Questions to ask when considering the impact of smart manufacturing on your company - by Elizabeth Press

As industrial capabilities go beyond automation to smart manufacturing, managers, investors, customers and employees look for definitional clarity and insight into how to succeed in the digital economy.

Let’s start by clarifying some buzz words:

Internet of things (IoT): Internet of Things is a system where physical things have IP addresses and are connected to each other through the Internet. These devices can identify and communicate with each other.

Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT): The use of the internet of things in an industrial setting. The vision for the Industrial Internet of Things is that sensor data, machine to machine communication and automation technologies together with cloud technology, machine learning and other big data technology will enable smart machines to work in a more flexible and accurate way.

Smart Manufacturing: This is a broad term that refers to using new technologies (including IoT, Advanced Analytics, Cloud Computing) to improve and enable new capabilities in the physical manufacturing process.

Smart manufacturing unites the world of plant operations, supply chain, product design and customer insight.  Manufacturers hope to capture and action insights from the plant floor, through the supply chain and even from end customers.

Here are some use cases that have been tested by pioneering players:

  • Smart design: Autodesk Dream Catcher is a design software that generates designs based on requirements and constraints.
  • Smart supply chain: In BMW’s Munich/Wackerdorf plant, self-driving robots are used to navigate their complicated and extensive premise.
  • Predictive Maintenance: General Electric uses real-time analytics on the factory floor to predict interruptions such as a machine overheating.
  • Asset Utilization: Airbus uses embedded systems to supply workers with real-time information so they can be more certain that they are using the correct tools. 

One large area of opportunity is linking customer insight to smart manufacturing to enable a truly comprehensive customer-focused organization on an industrial scale.

IDC and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation expect smart manufacturing to generate $371 billion in net global value over the next 4 years: by 1) creating value from data and 2) streamlining design processes, factory operations, and supply chain risks. The technologies that they say will enable smart manufacturing are: Big data, predictive analytics, virtualized processes, modeling and simulation, high-performance computing and robotics.

Corporate-startup partnerships will be key to traditional manufacturers remaining competitive in the digital economy. Gartner says by 2017, 50 percent of Internet of Things Solutions will originate in Startups that are less than three years old.

Here are some key questions I ask my clients when they consider the impact of digitalization and smart manufacturing on their organizations.

Strategic implications:

  • How are IoT, IIOT and smart manufacturing reshaping other companies who are important to your industry? Customers, partners, competitors?
  • Will transformation in traditionally unrelated industries affect you and your organization? If so, how?
  • How can you strategically position yourself in this new competitive environment?
  • How might smart manufacturing transform your company’s focus?
  • What innovative partners will you need?
  • What form could such partnerships take?

Organizational transformation:

  • How will your IIoT solution reshape your organization? What leadership styles and structures will you need? What forms of corporate governance are possible for a smart organization?
  • What skills will you in-source, outsource or gain through partnerships?
  • How should the team responsible for your IIoT implementation look? What mix of skillsets do you want?
  • On a broader organizational level, what skillets and organizational structures should be in place for a successful IIoT implementation?

Elizabeth Press is founder of D3M Labs, a consultancy that empowers organizations to cultivate strategic advantages and monetize digital assets by creating and marketing digital products. Organizations D3M Labs has worked with include Mondelez, Betahaus, Accelerate Korea, IAV and global players in financial services and GovTech. As an intrapreneur at Dell, Elizabeth built up and managed advanced analytics functions globally. Before Dell, she worked in top-tier strategy consulting and quantitative finance. Elizabeth mentors at the ReDI school of Digital Integration. She has a BA in International Relations from Tufts University and an MSc in International Economics and Business from the Stockholm School of Economics.

Do you have questions about smart manufacturing, digitalization and creating a strategic use case and/or big data monetization strategy?

D3M Labs can help your team with workshops and management coaching sessions designed for your needs. You can book a use case strategy or Data-as-a-Service Product creation workshop for your team, as well as management coaching sessions with Elizabeth Press.  Customized services are available. Contact [email protected]