There is a great deal of hype around the potential of digitising manufacturing operations through Industry 4.0 technologies. To realise the competitive advantage of digital manufacturing, the initiative must result in fundamental change in the baselines of operational costs, speed, flexibility and agility.
Unfortunately, the path to true digital transformation remains elusive for most manufacturing organisations. According to Forrester’s 2020 report titled Drive Transformational Outcomes at Scale, more than 90 per cent of manufacturing decision-makers believe that digital transformation is important for their organisations’ success but only 12 per cent of manufacturing leaders have delivered digital transformation programmes at any degree of scale across their businesses.
The single largest obstacle to achieving true transformational outcomes is ‘scale purgatory’. Many customers ask us “how can we capture financial impact at scale?” and simple mathematics is at the root of this question. A global manufacturer with 50 factories could realise $5 million in financial benefit by deploying a use case within a single factory, but transformation is only achieved when that same manufacturer captures that $5 million benefit across their network of 50 factories ($250 million). In our experience there are five critical components to driving transformation: shifting the focus from technology to financial impact; identifying standard high-value use cases that can be deployed at network-wide scale; evolving from DIY development to commercial ready-to-use applications; planning for a scalable edge-to-cloud architecture; and executive level programme design and governance focused on driving impact, speed and scale.
To help manufacturers deliver these initiatives, PTC and Rockwell Automation released Factory Insights as a Service. Built on top of Microsoft Azure, the software-as-a-service solution features repeatable, high-impact applications for driving improvement in labour, assets, and processes that are configured, rather than coded from scratch. This significantly reduces development time. Companies can realise value in as little as 30 days and scale efforts across the organisation 66 per cent faster than via a DIY approach. The applications align to the foundational requirements that most companies seek, but the solution itself leverages PTC’s robust and extensible ThingWorx platform for that last mile of tailoring.
At the end of the day, PTC, Rockwell and Microsoft are rethinking what it means for the manufacturing community to deliver digital transformation.
Howard Heppelmann is general manager of smart connected operations at PTC
This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue of Technology Record. To get future issues delivered directly to your inbox, sign up for a free subscription.
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