Getting the Most from Digitization

April 3, 2017
The digitization of manufacturing is rapidly connecting equipment within plant walls and beyond. Full article brought to you by Rockwell Automation. Visit The Connected Enterprise for more.  

The digitization of manufacturing is rapidly connecting equipment within plant walls and beyond.

Digital operations allow machines to communicate and collaborate, while providing real-time data to improve both plant processes and the products they create.

That's the good news.

The bad news is that the volume of data moving through and beyond the plant floor is increasing exponentially, creating massive challenges for manufacturers in:

  • Managing data: Is data flowing to where it's needed to keep operations running smoothly (machine-to-machine transfers) and then into management dashboards to improve decision-making?
  • Capturing and analyzing data: Can senior executives and functional leaders (supply-chain management, R&D, customer support) sort through billions of bytes and find meaningful insights?
  • Leveraging data: Does information enable process improvements (safety, quality, speed, productivity) and product improvements (durability, appeal, value-added services)?

Although many organizations are on the road to digitization, most are taking a winding path.

Few have detailed strategies that optimize Internet of Things (IoT) technologies.

Instead we see piecemeal approaches, driven by convenience (the easiest applications of smart devices), or by a single problem, or by executives with the loudest voices.

Leaders must focus their organizations on core business objectives — delighting customers, limiting risk, increasing profits — during the digitization process.

Start by reviewing the movement of materials and information throughout your extended supply chain, looking for bottlenecks and waste that prevent improvement:

  • Where are deliveries delayed due to a lack of real-time data or inefficient handoffs of information?
  • Which processes and functions pose the greatest potential risks to employees or equipment?
  • Where is data susceptible to unauthorized access?
  • Which supply-chain partners restrict the efficient flow of goods and information?
  • Where can real-time data improve performance (productivity, costs, customer satisfaction)?

Before “value-stream mapping” became a lean buzzword, it was commonly known as material and information flow mapping.

Digitization requires material and real-time information flow, across the enterprise and out into the supply chain.

What's preventing your company's digital success?

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