The rate at which digital transformation occurs in the modern world is accelerating, and businesses must be able to define their vision before turning them into actionable goals. The future state of manufacturing plants, in particular, hinges on long-term strategies that can benefit from smart factory software.
When deployed correctly, this type of software can meet and exceed customer expectations and demands. By investing into a competitive edge, manufacturing plants can secure growth, improve their products and continuously win in their markets. This post provides the steps required to reach these goals.
The importance of digital transformation
It’s integral to first understand the meaning of digital transformation. As a quick review, it pertains to the integration of digital technologies into a business. These integrations must then result in a revamp of the business by reorienting it around value, constant changes and the customer experience.
Common integrations within manufacturing operations can be achieved through smart factory technologies that do the following:
- Makes smarter decisions based on real-time production data.
- Provides an understanding of overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and machine downtime.
- Standardizes processes and performance metrics.
- Improves product quality while reducing waste and scrap.
- Integrates enterprise resource planning (ERP) data under a centralized system.
- Reduces high labor costs.
- Reduces time to market.
- Champions a culture of continuous improvement.
After defining digital transformation within a business, the next step is to assess digital maturity by identifying a plant’s level in terms of its current technologies.
Defining the level of digital maturity
Knowing the current state of a manufacturing plant allows business leaders to figure out where they would like the plant to be headed in the future. To get an understanding of the technology ecosystem and map out a viable digital transformation journey, one must identify where the current technologies and processes fall in the first place.
There are several levels of digital maturity:
- Level 1: Whiteboards and spreadsheets. This type of operation lacks automation due to the use of manual whiteboards and paper schedules. Since operational data is collected manually, the information is both inaccurate and unavailable at times.
- Level 2: Silo systems. This type of manufacturing operation has one or more systems in place for digitization, but the information is not centralized and the standalone systems lack bi-directional data communication.
- Level 3: Digital novice. The operation has some automation in place and is showing interest in full digital transformation. It’s beginning to explore the benefits of connected and flexible digital solutions.
- Level 4: Data explorer. The operation has implemented some digital solutions and wants to drill into more meaningful real-time data to make smarter decisions and engage employees.
- Level 5: Digital trailblazer. The manufacturing plant is digitally mature with connected and integrated solutions to manage production processes. Additionally, all involved staff members are knowledgeable of the benefits of scalability and the enterprise-wide adoption of smart factory technologies.
Lean benchmarks through a lean manufacturing philosophy
Once the competitive advantages of new technologies are determined, the next step is to establish benchmarks and understand the interactions between lean and smart factory software. This type of lean manufacturing philosophy refers to eliminating waste within a system. Businesses that embrace the key principles of this can reach their benchmarks and full potential.
Benchmarking is a structured way to compare products, strategies, programs and processes. It helps with the understanding of how other manufacturers perform their processes to achieve targeted performance levels. Setting the right benchmarks for lean objectives and utilizing the right data through smart factory technology enables operations to determine which processes need improvement.
The main idea here is to convert these insights into actions that will improve the bottom line. For instance, a multinational food manufacturing company used Shoplogix to achieve a five-year digital transformation execution strategy. With the help of Shoplogix, the food manufacturing company established lean benchmarks that focused on machine truth, accurate data collection, improved processes and employee engagement.
The powerful relationship between the right smart factory technology and lean objectives allows a company to not only elevate operational performance and continuous improvement, but also enhance the workplace culture in a shorter amount of time.
Key takeaways for getting started with digital transformation
The first step toward successful digital transformation involves understanding the required integration of digital technologies into a business. Next, it’s about defining the current and ideal level of digital maturity. Moreover, it’s key to leverage lean benchmarks via a lean manufacturing philosophy.
This guide covered the first few steps toward full digital transformation. Be sure to subscribe to our newsletter and stay tuned for our upcoming guide that builds on these foundational steps to bring your manufacturing plant to the future.