Technology Record - Issue 27: Winter 2022

124 I NT E R V I EW Putting the ‘digital’ in digital transformation Avanade’s Chris Lowndes and Barry Maybank share why digital twins and service-centric business models could be the answer to the ever-evolving challenges facing the manufacturing industry Recessionary headwinds, energy costs and sustainability – these are three key challenges facing today’s manufacturers, according to Avanade’s senior director of Industry X and digital twin lead Chris Lowndes, and Barry Maybank, senior director for manufacturing advisory in UK, Ireland and Europe. “Manufacturers continue to strive for a competitive advantage and new revenue streams, with an increasing need for resilience and optimisation in operations,” says Maybank. “At Avanade and Microsoft, we are seeing increasing demand from our manufacturing clients for help, advice and solutions across these key areas.” According to Maybank, these clients are looking to increase quality, speed and efficiencies in production processes; drive greater agility and resilience to respond to crises and changing demands; develop more sustainable manufacturing, with a drive to net zero; and upskill workforces. “There is now a unanimous understanding from IT, business and operations teams that digital tools, technologies and information are key to transforming manufacturing and meeting these needs,” says Maybank. “We help our customers with practical advice that builds on the digitalisation that we saw accelerate through Covid-19. However, we now have an increased focus on connected and intelligent manufacturing. We refer to this as ‘smart digital manufacturing’.” But for manufacturers to see real value in the form of cost reductions, new revenue models, progress towards sustainability goals or a happier, more engaged workforce, they need it to happen quickly. “Our speed to value is a key aspect of why clients adopt our approach,” says Lowndes. Avanade uses digital twins to enable this speed to value. “We are able to create intelligent digital replicas of anything from physical manufacturing assets, resources and processes to the finished products in everyday use,” says Lowndes. “These digital twins create an abstract solution space, where data and artificial intelligence are deployed as problem-solving optimisers. Unlike their physical twin, digital twins can be used to replicate, simulate, test, alter or even destroy, in order to uncover hidden insights that the physical twin could never reveal.” For example, Lowndes highlights that a focus on reducing energy consumption will drive value not only by lowering production overheads, but also by decreasing carbon emissions. “A solution based on digital twins allows the client operations team to drill down and optimise energy consumption, even at the level of an individual machine or process step, whilst showing tangible progress towards overall business sustainability goals.” With the manufacturing landscape constantly evolving due to external pressures and technologies like those from Avanade being updated to meet these needs, manufacturers BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S “ Digital twins are becoming a key enabler of the ‘smart digital manufacturing’ movement” BARRY MAYBANK, AVANADE