The Future of Manufacturing is Digital
Why Digital Manufacturing?
Like many other sectors, manufacturing is going through a significant shift – driven by the availability of new technologies and the emergence of innovative concepts. Traditional processes and legacy systems are giving way to disruptive methodologies that will change the face of manufacturing forever.
The Upside of Digital Manufacturing
The advantages of implementing modern, digital manufacturing practices, processes, and technology include but are not limited to:
- Improving resource, material and equipment planning and scheduling
- Increasing worker safety, preventing workplace accidents, injuries and diseases
- Virtually eliminating human exposure to hazardous waste or by-products
- Eliminating bottlenecks, increasing efficiency and productivity, while driving down costs
- Reducing production equipment idleness and downtime
- Increasing job variety and satisfaction for factory workers
Connecting all enterprise resource planning systems with people and equipment means achieving an unprecedented oversight over all processes, assets and resources in a manufacturing facility. Better oversight and control lead to better planning, fewer contingencies, and an improved workflow of all systems involved – the workings of a modern plant.
Machines Replacing Factory Workers?
In a tech-driven age, developing and testing new technology happens quickly, which isn’t typically the case with the people who need to operate it. Despite widespread fear of machines and AI replacing all human workers altogether, the reality is quite different.
While it is true that machines can automate many monotonous, repetitive and mundane tasks previously performed by humans, most workers would happily outsource those tasks anyways. There will continue to be a need for plant workers, though – whether it’s to operate the machines whose intellect is still nowhere near ours, to supervise, or maintain them. This would most certainly result in a need for new skills. Thus, retraining programs should be offered to ensure workers’ knowledge can match demand, going forward.
There is a risk associated with the level of retraining many workers would need to match the new realities of digital manufacturing. If the appropriate training time and resources to retrain workers in acquiring the new skills they’ll need aren’t foreseen, it is possible that not all staff will find an equivalent vocation or position to replace their old one.
Building the Factories of the Future
In the factories of 2020 and beyond, having siloed structures and departments as was previously the norm, will simply not support the way manufacturing digitization is meant to work. All information systems – ERP, operations, and production, and all hardware and machinery – production equipment, sensors, routers, IoT devices – need to exchange data in real-time, for the entire digital factory to operate smoothly and efficiently.
Logistics, supply chain, customer service, and configure-price-quote systems also need to be looped in, whether that’s through an almighty ERP system or a custom API developed to work with third-party software. Connecting all these systems is a major undertaking that’s not to be underestimated – however, the success of your digital factory depends on it.
Digitizing Your Smart Factory
Rapid digital transformation is often the key to reinventing industries, though, some slower moving players can quickly get left behind in the race. Enabling organizational change is paramount when undergoing such processes. Technology needs to follow people, organizations, and processes – not the other way around.
Finding the right partner to help you accelerate your digital manufacturing practices and connect all your systems isn’t an easy task. A simple app developer won’t do as they won’t have the manufacturing or system integration experience needed to understand the sector and its intricacies in depth. However, a technology partner with manufacturing sector experience could be invaluable – one like Verhaert Digital.
Get in touch with our team to discuss the best way to begin the digitization of your factory, plant, or manufacturing facility.