The equipment and machinery operating in a plant—robots, conveyors, compressors, chillers, heaters, among others — are engineering marvels that produce a large part of our economy. Today, even the most advanced equipment can produce only so much innovation in hardware. Manufacturers are moving beyond the basics by adding software sensors, cognitive intelligence, and analytics to produce higher value solutions.

Digital transformation is reinvigorating the manufacturing industry by facilitating smart, connected plants and assets. However, for most of the modern manufacturing companies, the digital transformation initiatives often lose momentum. Digital technologies, however promising, demand new thinking and processing. In other words, it is pivotal to have a digital transformation roadmap for the manufacturing industry to unlock the full potential of such initiatives.

This blog shows how building a robust digital transformation roadmap in the manufacturing sector, when accomplished in the right way, can streamline everyday operations.

Implement One Solution at a Time

The first step in this roadmap is to understand all the bottlenecks in each of the processes. It then leads to finding out the areas where digital transformation efforts could yield better results. Companies should identify a particular problem, roll out digital strategies, and expand a large-scale transformation from there.

For example, digitizing the processes of pump monitoring or heat exchange monitoring and then continuing the digitization process to more complex processes. When the whole shop floor is integrated in this way, executives can go on to measure multiple assets and have a real-time view of the entire operations.

Integrate Digital Projects across the Organization

A lot of modern digital transformation efforts remain scattered and experimental. None of it is interconnected. When there is no unified workflow to manage business-critical processes, manufacturing companies struggle to build automation at scale.

The value is in having a common infrastructure on top of which companies should leverage technologies across all aspects of the business. It is important to digitize the assets, actions, and processes to create a seamless flow. Only by implementing digital transformation across the shop floor, manufacturers can streamline the entire operations. Digital solutions attune the disconnected processes and create a seamless digital ecosystem.

A S&P 500 manufacturer had disparate technology platforms and data-quality issues and the company implemented digital technologies to overhaul and standardized the processes. When their global operations were digitally integrated, the manufacturer could double their revenues every 3 years. Digital transformation enabled them to integrate key business processes such as order-to-cash, source-to-pay, plan-to-stock, and prospect-to-order.

Data-focused Approach to Manufacturing Transformation

After integrating their fragmented processes, it is important for a manufacturing floor to create a data-driven ecosystem. Real-time insights and end-to-end visibility can help manufacturers make optimized decision-making across manufacturing outcomes (cost, productivity, and quality).

McKinsey reports about a factory that lost USD 5 million because of unplanned machine breakdowns. By collecting the data meticulously and tracking the production line in real-time, it became possible to collect historical machine data and use that to identify areas of improvement on the shop floor. In less than 12 months, they were able to control 15% of costs.

The Digital transformation roadmap in the manufacturing industry presents opportunities to scale up and integrate digital implementations, enable data-driven automation, and expand digital transformation more broadly across the business landscape. Those who align their business goals and actions with the digital transformation roadmap can reap its full benefits.

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