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How DX is driving real change in key industries – Manufacturing

Vice President of Product Management
In this, the final article of the series, we look at manufacturing and what the future might hold for organizations on their Digital Transformation journey to become more competitive, agile and efficient.

The need for speed

Requiring faster, better products, services and experiences, customers and their changing needs and expectations are pushing the manufacturing industry towards Digital Transformation. The target is enhanced efficiency, cost reductions and innovation. With technology more attainable and cost effective, it is no longer only the largest organizations who can benefit from Digital Transformation. According to a 2018 PWC report, 86% of the manufacturers they interviewed expect to see cost reductions and revenue gains from Digital Transformation over the next five years.

Change is in the air

Billed as the fourth industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, the Digital Transformation of the manufacturing industry is mixing traditional manufacturing with technology. The vast array of available innovative technology includes advanced analytics, machine learning, the IoT, Cloud computing and many other developments.
Below we look at some of the ways in which Digital Transformation is already impacting the manufacturing industry.
  • Smart factories - Manufacturing has relied on automation for some time, and by using innovative technology factories are improving visibility, connectivity and autonomy as they become the factories of the future. From learning and adapting in real time, organizations are able to be more flexible than ever before. Advanced algorithms are transforming the way the manufacturing industry collects and processes information, performs skilled tasks, and predicts consumer behavior.

Smart factories with integrated IT systems provide accurate real-time data to both sides of the supply chain, increasing production capacity. Silos are broken down as manufacturers, suppliers, collaborators, transporters, and customers form a seamless and transparent integrated network.
  • Real-time tracking  - By using IoT, manufacturers gain greater control over supply chain management. An example of this is Nobilia, who have incorporated real-time tracking of their furniture through each manufacturing stage. Manufacturers are improving operating performance and product quality, leading to supply chain transparency. At every stage, each item is automatically checked and accounted for, allowing for closer inventory management, less wastage, and empowered decision-making.
  • Anticipate the future - Manufacturers can react to disruptions, but they are now able to anticipate them by using models and creating potential scenarios. These then immediately feed into adjustments in the supply chain as conditions change.
  • Faster processes - With product lifecycles (PLC) becoming shorter, manufacturing processes need to get faster and faster, and Digital Transformation is making this happen. By increasing efficiencies, and availability of data, processes are sped up, and time to market is reduced.
  • Optimized production - The ability to swiftly adjust production is now a possibility. Thanks to the analytics, organizations have insights into how to speed up production, enhance efficiencies, monitor and carry out machine maintenance and servicing, as well as alerts of any defects or damaged goods. Manufacturers can also gain a clear understanding of how well they are handling operations with metrics related to speed, inventory, and finances. Live product performance has increased productivity by allowing for fast product enhancements and changes. Due to the availability of digital tools and automation, manufacturers now have more streamlined and efficient operations without sacrificing quality.
  • Connected consumers with customized experiences - Consumers are now connected to each step of the process through social networks, interactions and data analytics. By listening to what consumers want, organizations are embracing the technology available to them and are efficiently producing customized products. This is achieved by combining the efficiencies of mass customization and feedback from customers on what they want from a product and organization. This 1:1 approach also puts the customer back at the center, enhancing the customer experience and cultivating customer loyalty.
  • Flexible and connected employees - Employees have direct access to real-time data enabling them to easily do their jobs from anywhere, using the device of their choosing. Remote working in the manufacturing industry, although lagging behind other industries, is growing in popularity. Organizations are redesigning processes and training their workers to operate in the digital world.
  • Service providers - Some manufacturers are making a move away from products to services as part of a service-based model. According to a Capgemini report, 18% of manufacturers have reported that they plan to stop manufacturing products altogether, instead developing data, IT and software competencies, to deliver a pure service-based model.

What’s next?

The manufacturing industry today is almost unrecognizable to that of 100 years ago, and the future also promises to make another big leap. Products may be automatically tested, repaired, adjusted and personalized before they even hit assembly lines. AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) will continue to develop for future product design, including live demos and full immersion. By using advanced data analytics, AI (artificial intelligence), advanced industrial robots, and collaborative robots, even more efficiencies may be achieved in the sector. We will continue to see a rise in the use of 3D printing, with the manufacturing industry heavily involved in driving innovation regarding this technology.
Part 1 - How Digital Transformation (DX) is driving change in key verticals
Part 2 - How Digital Transformation (DX) is driving change - Legal
Part 3 - How Digital Transformation (DX) is driving change - Education
Part 4 - How Digital Transformation (DX) is driving change - Finance
Part 5 - How Digital Transformation (DX) is driving change - Manufacturing

What other changes have you seen because of Digital Transformation? What do you think will change in the future for the manufacturing sector? Please share your thoughts with us by using the below comments section.
Matej Štefaník
Matej acts as a connector between customers, partners and development teams. He is a big fan of artificial intelligence and a cooking enthusiast, occasionally baking cakes using secret family recipes.
View all posts by Matej Štefaník

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