4 Steps To Successful Digital Transformation In Manufacturing
4 Steps To Successful Digital Transformation In Manufacturing
Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 are phrases that are heard frequently these days. But without any concrete examples of what they are or how to implement them, these terms don’t really mean much in isolation.

Digital transformation and Industry 4.0 are broad, catch-all terms that describe the transition from traditional ways of doing business and industry to new ones. To understand what digital transformation is, you need to view it in context. Digital transformation involves the application of digital technology such as cloud services, AI, machine learning, and software solutions.

However, it isn’t immediately obvious which steps manufacturing companies need to take if they want to transform digitally. In this brief guide, we’ll outline four steps that you can follow to achieve successful digital transformation and thrive as a modern manufacturing business.

Step 1 – Identify digital gaps in key impact areas

The first step is to make a concrete plan. The goal here is to find areas where implementing digital solutions will make the most impact. You can do this by estimating the affect on key metrics, such as:

●      reducing energy,

●      reducing labor,

●      reducing waste,

●      increasing agility,

●      increasing throughput,

●      improving quality,

●      and, saving time.

To identify areas that can be optimized through digital transformation, you first need to evaluate the current performance of different processes and workflows. The quickest and easiest way to do this is to pinpoint an area, quality management for example, and analyze success against KPIs.

By checking KPI metrics you may be able to identify optimization opportunities in:

●      Supply chain

●      Planning efficiency

●      Preventive maintenance

●      Quality management

●      Cycle times


Step 2 – Decide which technology fills the digital gaps

The next step is to research the available technology and find out which solutions are the most appropriate to meet your needs.

For instance, you may realise that your production orders are still being drawn up and handled manually or make use of outdated spreadsheets and email. In this case, you would probably be best to look for a software solution that automates elements of that process for you to cut costs, save time, and release extra labour.

Another area that affects all manufacturing companies is maintenance. Modern digital technology allows you to implement a predictive maintenance strategy, which involves the use of IoT (Internet of Things) sensors, cloud technology, and data analysis software to highlight potential machine failure and take preventative action.

Step 3 – Run pilot projects

Before committing to a company-wide rollout of a digital solution such as automated ERP production orders or a quality and KPI management platform, it’s best practice to run a pilot project. Carrying out a pilot project allows you to evaluate the success of a digital solution implementation and whether it may be viable for a wider rollout .

The key to a successful digital transformation pilot is to plan and prepare carefully in advance. Be very clear on the problem you’re trying to solve and don’t implement any software or platform until the strategy has been agreed amongst all stakeholders.

Maybe you want to speed up your supply chain by introducing AI image recognition technology to automatically read delivery labels. Or perhaps you want to reduce losses by applying advanced data analytics tools. Make sure you are very clear about what you want to achieve, set out your goals, objectives, and targets, then choose a digital solution that will deliver results.

Step 4 – Scale up to a full rollout

Presuming that the pilot project was a success and the results proved positive, the next step is to scale up the project to meet the wider demand.

For example, you may decide to embed a predictive maintenance machine learning solution across a production line after trialing it on one machine initially. The speed and size of the scaling up operation will depend on how effectively the sensor data was analyzed and how well the algorithms performed.

Save yourself time with an all-in-one platform for your shop floor and production lines

And there you have it – four simple steps to achieve successful digital transformation across your manufacturing operations.

Obviously, there’s a lot more to consider when striving for digital optimization across your operations and it can be quite a complex undertaking, especially if you don’t know which solutions to choose.

For that reason, we have developed a smart manufacturing platform that takes a lot of the hard work out of transforming digitally. To find out more, book a discovery call with one of our experts today.