Whatever the size of your factory, it’s time for all organizations to embark on the journey towards digital transformation in an aim to get the most out of the plant by applying the different solutions offered by Industry 4.0 (Artificial intelligence (AI), Machine learning (ML), Big data, Cloud, Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT) or Digital Twin) throughout the whole production chain.
Author: Joseba Montoya, Lantek Commercial Director for Spain and Portugal
The pressure not to miss the Industry 4.0 train drives many manufacturers to adopt some of these disruptive technologies without first planning properly and considering communication between machines. A lack of knowledge of these solutions coupled with a shortage of qualified personnel to tackle digital transformation means that the industry sometimes makes mistakes. These are the most common ones to avoid:
Not transmitting cultural change across the board. A change that starts with the CEO and their immediate team. They need to be the first to believe and understand what digital transformation involves and know how to gradually adapt the plant. If the change is radical, we’ll fail. For some time now, there’s been a new figure within organizations, the CIO (Chief Information Officer), who no longer works as a sealed department, but aligns information systems and technologies with the business’ strategy. The CEO relies on this person to get to grips with the digital transformation process and contribute to cultural change in a transversal way. Equally, we need to prepare our talent. The lack of personnel trained in these innovative technological enablers is a well-known issue, so we need to try to provide the tools to help staff catch up within the organization. Because technology allows for disruption, but people are the ones who cause it.
Not including the digital tools needed in all stages of the production process. The digital transformation process has to be complete. It can’t be partial and only applied to one area, neglecting the rest of the production chain. In the sheet metal and metal industry, the first step is to perform a "consultancy" of the plant to identify which processes can be improved with these new digital technologies, how quickly and in what order. The plant must also be connected in an orchestrated manner, meaning that it must be sensorized so that machines and processes can communicate, collect all the data generated in real time and send it to the world of artificial intelligence and automatic learning in the cloud environment. That’s why having the right software is key. Lantek 360 is the value proposal for comprehensive management of the plant, making it available anywhere and at any time. It’s a suite of digital solutions hosted in the cloud and aimed at providing a 360 overview of the factory in real time, analyzing data to offer intelligent answers that help operators to make better decisions in terms of manufacturing, quoting and purchasing, among other advantages.
Not implementing agile methodologies. For some time now, everything has revolved around the client and today new work methodologies are emerging at the production and software level that are supported by some of the Industry 4.0 enablers mentioned before, keeping the focus on the client to offer top manufacturing quality with the greatest possible efficiency. Little by little, methods such as Lean, Agile or DevOps, applied differently to both industry and software, are being incorporated into companies’ daily lives, regardless of the sector, to improve the production process and gain in competitiveness.
The size of the company doesn’t matter. Large, medium and small companies can, and must, set off on the path of digitizing production, obviously adapted to their size. We all have to travel on the same train and get on at the same stop, otherwise the transformation will take place at different speeds, which is a risk for those bringing up the rear. The second point can be used as a roadmap for any company, regardless of its size.
Co-creation. There’s no common standard and each production reality comes with its own idiosyncrasies and, as such, must be treated differently. So as not to make mistakes and compromise the factory’s digital transformation process, we have to rely on the experts and co-create. This new ecosystem brings with it a new collaborative paradigm where we must undertake the digital transformation journey accompanied by the very best partners.
There’s no doubt about it, digital transformation improves factory productivity, profitability and competitiveness, but we have to take into account the factors above to do so effectively and jump aboard the Industry 4.0 train that, after the pandemic, is running full steam ahead.
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