Changing buyer expectations are disrupting the manufacturing sector. Consumer demands keep pushing towards higher productivity, efficiency and flexibility, while at the same time manufacturers need to lower costs to remain competitive.
Seems like a daunting task in the ever-changing market but manufacturers might be able to achieve those goals more easily than expected. The answer lies in the digital transformation of the manufacturing business processes and the integration of digital and physical systems.
According to the latest Smart Factories report, by 2022 the global manufacturing industry will increase its overall productivity by seven times. And guess what is the main driver for this rapid growth? That’s right, the smart factory.
The term describes a type of manufacturing where connected machinery and equipment can improve processes through automation and self-optimisation. The benefits also extend beyond the physical efficiencies derived from the production of goods into functions like planning, supply chain logistics and even product development.
Because smart factories use technologies such as Big Data Analytics and Internet of Things (IoT), they utilise insights to:
- ·optimise productivity and supply chain operations
- predict trends and quickly adjust to market demands
- drive innovation and accelerate time to market
- increase customer satisfaction and loyalty
- develop new lines of production and add new revenue streams
- get closer to customers through servitisation
- lower costs
Forward-thinking manufacturers, probably even in your vertical, have already started to prepare for the Industry 4.0 - the Smart Factory report states that 43 per cent of all manufacturers already have an operational smart factory initiative, while another 33 per cent are currently outlining a similar strategy.
It seems that the decision to embed a smart factory strategy into your business plan is not a matter of “if” anymore. It’s a matter of “when”.
So, how do you turn a factory into a “smart” one, what are the first steps and where to start?
By integrating Data Analytics tools and an IoT system first.
This is how we at Columbus help manufacturers on their journey towards a smart factory:
Utilising the power of the cloud, SpaceMAX IoT quickly deploys a Digital Time and Motion Study solution to your warehouse. It helps you decide where to place things, maximise available space, and it tracks people and forklift movement, showing where there are bottlenecks and where items should be placed for picking. It simultaneously records valuable data about the small improvements that add up to massive savings in your business within hours. The solution is scalable to meet different needs of manufacturers from large to small; it is secure and affordable, with a fixed monthly price.
The most successful enterprises understand that paying attention to the small details can add up to significant savings. If you could save just a small percentage of the energy costs of moving product around your sites, how would that translate on your bottom line?
Columbus Data Analytics
Using analytics, we provide you with business insights to identify patterns and trends. A powerful tool that enables you to take proactive actions, improve the features and longevity of your products or launch new offerings before your competitors do.
Advanced analytics enable you to visualise your supply chain and simplify the transformation of data into actionable insights.
Using IoT sensors on the machinery in a production centre provides operations managers with immediate visibility into how each is operating. That means you can perform predictive instead of reactive maintenance, reducing unplanned downtime.
Analytics further help you understand how customers are using your products and services, which results in improved customer experience, better design, innovative services, and, furthermore, new business opportunities.
If you want to see our IoT sensors in action, how they pick up movement and show data in real time, visit our stand at the Smart Factory Expo on 15th and 16th November at Liverpool’s Exhibition Centre. We’d be delighted to chat about how we could support you in generating new smart opportunities for your manufacturing business.
The discrete manufacturing series
Our series focuses on five common problems discrete manufacturers are currently facing, and how to solve them, including case study examples of where discrete manufacturers have implemented our solutions and seen success. The full series includes tip sheets – available for download - on: