Technological transformation in the manufacturing industry is essential in today’s climate, but integrating IIOT takes an innovative culture and wealth of technical talent to reap the rewards.
Over the years many of us seasoned manufacturing veterans have read article after article about how transforming your factory to include the latest smart technology will increase productivity, reduce operating costs, provide greater access to data, and allow for better decision making. In fact, a recent google search on “Technology Transformation” produced 1.4 billion results, most of which highlight the positive impact a technological shift will bring to the plant floor. However, such a transformation will only be worthwhile if your operations strategy includes these two things:
- A culture that encourages employee innovation and change
- Tech-savvy talent
Without these, you may find yourself eating the cost of a technology that is highly under-utilized, turning your technological transformation into an uphill battle.
A truly innovative manufacturing culture
Technological transformation is more of a corporate strategy than a scattered implementation process. The success or failure of your technology investment will be attributed to the digital IQ of your organization’s leaders and their teams. They must first promote a culture of innovation and change, encouraging employees to focus on continuous improvement, innovation and ongoing training. There are many transformation strategies to choose from, but your leaders must be on board with this type of cultural transformation or they will have no use for the information the technology transformation will provide.
Connecting technology and performance
One of the key drivers of innovation in manufacturing is the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) — leveraging high-speed communications technology and data in order to improve insights and decision-making. IIoT in manufacturing can have numerous applications, with predictive maintenance and machine health monitoring being two of the most effective.
Driven by industrial sensor technology, machine health monitoring uses vast amounts of real-time data to determine potential underlying performance issues, allowing technicians to diagnose and remedy possible problems in a much more proactive manner, significantly reducing or even eliminating unplanned downtime.
A further extension of IIoT in manufacturing, machine health monitoring also makes use of real-time performance data collected by industrial sensors to provide a more accurate, long-term big picture of equipment efficiency, wear and tear, operations and potential maintenance needs. Machine health monitoring and factory IIoT can drive effective predictive maintenance and, over the long term, can help create more efficient maintenance and inventory planning and strategy.
Technical talent for the 21st century
In light of a recent skills gap study, it is clear that many companies continue to struggle selling the younger generation on a career in manufacturing. In order to combat this, manufacturers looking to benefit from a technology transformation will need to revamp their talent strategy to include attracting the next generation’s workforce of tech-savvy millennials as well as investing in their current workforce. Bridging the talent gap will be a focus for the entire manufacturing sector, so companies looking to get ahead of the competition on the technology front must make this a part of a strategic priority. This will put pressure on your Recruiting and HR departments, but long term it will pay off, resulting in having the skilled talent when and where you need it.
Bottom line, true digital transformation requires a shift in strategy to develop an entirely different business model that places technology at the core of its strategy and culture. It can be achieved if the right steps are taken, but many organizations still have years to go before fully embracing what it takes to make it a successful reality.