The business world is littered with big name companies who failed to keep pace with the changes required by digital innovation and have ceased to exist. In manufacturing, digitalisation is already threatening to create its own class system, with those who embrace the industrial transformation element of digital transformation securing their long-term health, and those who ignore it, their demise. David Baskett, technical strategy manager at SolutionsPT, looks at the manufacturing divide already being created by digitalisation and imagines what the future looks like for those who don’t make the change.

UK manufacturing has long needed a boost. Plagued by productivity problems, a lack of skilled employees and the shadow of Brexit, good news for UK manufacturing has been in short supply. However, digitalisation - or Industry 4.0 – has offered cause for optimism, promising transformational improvements from the factory floor to the supply chain. Digitalisation is offering a lifeline to British manufacturing, so you’d think manufacturers would be racing to embrace it. Not so. In a session during

a recent conference, ARC Advisory Group (ARC) cited its recent research of 157 process manufacturers that found there were still barriers in organisational accountability, culture and employee change management that impeded transformation.

Preparing for transformation The research found that although more than 80% of industrial process manufacturers are piloting advanced technology, only 5% to 8% of them are ready for digital transformation. Where other sectors have harnessed the Internet of Things (IoT), artificial intelligence and big data to meet the changing needs of their customers, the manufacturing sector has been slower in adopting new

Rafi Billurcu, partner, Manufacturing at Infosys Consulting, predicts the five key areas that will demand our attention in 2020: Brexit - Manufacturing leaders must prepare accordingly for Brexit, regardless of how uncertain the outcome is. Changes in tax and trade regulations means organisations must take corrective action to make supply chains more future-proof and efficient. While devaluation of GBP will make UK exports more attractive, organisations must carefully consider where to export and what to export, depending upon the market needs, competitive landscape and margins. It will become less feasible to import intermediary goods or raw materials, so organisations must re-think their strategic sourcing and develop the UK supplier base.

David Baskett, technical strategy manager at SolutionsPT

technologies. So, what are the main

barriers to adoption? For many, the issue is internal, with a shortage of skills to implement and maximise technologies, and a generally low awareness of how to build an effective business case for the required investment proving problematic. Other challenges to adoption include concerns about cybersecurity, challenges posed by legacy equipment and concerns about the cost of change. It’s important to remember

that technological advancements usually come in response to changing consumer requirements. Manufacturers used to be a step removed from the consumer, but changes to the buyer journey have filtered down every part of the supply chain. Mass producing one product for millions of customers is increasingly rare; consumers want options, personalisation and customisation, and to do that in an industrial environment requires the technology to dynamically adjust production, dialling up and dialling down, whilst looking for efficiencies and monitoring maintenance requirements. Digital transformation is

key to achieving objectives like improving efficiency and quality, reducing costs and waste, and creating innovative products and services. It also enables improved asset health which helps eliminate unplanned downtime and enhance incident prediction capabilities. Other digital


innovations now available for manufacturers include Artificial Intelligence and Machine learning, which allow the automation of low skilled tasks and IIOT devices that use sensor technology to deliver low cost sensing to drive efficiency without impacting control networks.

An evolving process Digitalisation is no longer simply a tactical aspect of the manufacturing business – it is becoming vital to pursue end- to-end digital transformation in order to achieve production improvements. To be a successful manufacturer of the future, the need to build an effective roadmap to guide you along the transformative changes of the next five, ten or fifteen years needs to start now. The key is to see industrial transformation not as a one-off implementation project, but as a constantly evolving process designed to add incremental value. Perhaps, for some, the

scale of what they feel is required for digital transformation is too daunting, but what’s important is to take those first initial steps. Continuously improving via the use of digital technologies is more appealing than stagnation or decline. It’s easy to see how failure to act now will create a huge gulf between manufacturers in the next two to three years. Digitalisation cannot be delayed any longer; the potential of Industry 4.0 must be recognised now.

5G - Following 5G’s widespread rollout, next year we can expect this to become a critical enabler for fulfilling the biggest promise of Industry 4.0: cyber-physical systems, which are the convergence of the physical and digital world through connected devices. Despite various challenges, 5G will be able to offer the ultra- reliable low latency connectivity that Industry 4.0, AI and big data analytics will rely on to deliver this future. Through better connectivity between machines – enabled by thousands of sensors – 5G will help make real-time decisions within a fraction of a second.

Smart factories - Embedding IoT technologies into machines promises to transform manufacturing facilities into smart factories. The impact will be seen across all aspects of operations, from asset management and machine maintenance to planning, quality control, and even field service. With smart sensors already being rolled out, particularly IoT technology, we’ll start seeing more real-time monitoring of machines. But predictive maintenance isn’t possible with sensors alone. Employing artificial intelligence alongside IoT will enhance this, and, integrated with machine learning, will enable a more sustainable system that can learn over time and provide an even better return on investment. This technology could save millions.

Increased energy efficiency - 2020 will see greater investment in technologies to improve energy efficiency in factories. For example, the rise of intelligent factory floors, where different IoT sensors can monitor and control a facility’s energy consumption through more intelligent lighting, heating and air conditioning. As for artificial intelligence, the best use of this requires investment in equipment upgrades to intelligently schedule the use of certain machines at off-peak times when energy prices are lower. Benefits will include reduced overall energy consumption and costs, and sustainability targets will be hit.

Agile manufacturing - We’re already seeing the whole manufacturing industry undergoing a shift towards agile manufacturing, moving from B2B to B2C models – and even towards B2B2C models. In 2020, we can expect to see organisations continue to build additional capabilities to enhance their customer offering. This will be through offering different kinds of services and reducing the focus on the product. This will enable organisations to tap into new revenue pools through targeting new customer segments, and achieve better margins, establish continuous revenue streams and differentiate themselves from the competition.


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