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The Future of the Factory Is Here for the Taking

Metamorworks for Getty Images smart manufacturing
Legacy systems are a cloud over manufacturing that block the benefits of digital transformation tools that are already here.

Manufacturers across industries are striving to improve the quality, efficiency, and effectiveness of their operations by utilizing new digital technologies and data. This involves understanding the data-centered convergence of manufacturing operations and supply chain management.

For many, the history of legacy manufacturing is a cloud that looms over their operations and prevents them from realizing the benefits of digital transformation. This is because turning the idea of smart manufacturing into reality takes vision and doesn’t happen overnight – but many manufacturing leaders have begun to seek out new initiatives to help them on this journey.

One such initiative is the Factory of the Future, which will be built on intelligent operations, a clear roadmap for innovation, and agile-at-scale deployment – and manufacturers must be prepared to jump in.

This video explains the role of smart manufacturing in automotive sustainability:

The following techniques will ensure that your organization is ready to adopt the factory of the future approach.

Remove Siloed OT and IT Operations

In many enterprises operating on legacy manufacturing models, there is a significant level of fragmentation between their OT and IT departments – often to the degree that they feel like entirely separate organizations. This creates a lack of trust between the OT and IT leadership that acts as a barrier to seamless manufacturing and operational savings.

Organizations must focus on removing these silos and enabling a seamless dialogue between their OT and IT departments. By doing this, leaders can improve their manufacturing processes, break down barriers to information sharing, and significantly improve time to market with new solution deployments.

This also involves a degree of cross-education – where the IT workforce must learn about OT operations and vice versa.

Identify a Statistical Quality Control (SQC) and Statistical Process Control (SPC) Expert

So what’s the difference between SQC and SPC control? For background, SQC applies statistical and analytical tools to monitor process outputs, while SPC encompasses activities that monitor processes in real-time to prevent defects. Manufacturers that identify partners with proven expertise with these processes will be better able to better manage their outputs and close the gap between when issues occur and when they are addressed.

This can result in quantitative positive change for customers and has a massive potential impact on sustainability initiatives.

Because sustainability is a top priority for today’s organizations, it is essential to embed green initiatives into the core of your strategy. This quantifiable data provided by SQCs and SPCs can impact end-to-end supply chain review to reduce waste and help manufacturers realize their sustainability goals.

Leverage Hyperscaler Ecosystem Partners to Accelerate Transformation 

Manufacturers looking to transform should leverage hyper-scaler partners. According to research, organizations report that of their entire partner ecosystem, hyper scalers are the top contributors that allow them to harness the full power of their data and improve the performance of their supply chain. They enable a decision layer around complex manufacturing data, from IoT and operations data to sustainability measurements.

Hyperscalers are moving swiftly – orienting their sales teams, solution experts, and manufacturing positioning – and making investments available for proof of concept (POC) and proof of value (POV) initiatives to fuel accelerated innovation. These partners are utilizing API connectivity frameworks and other technologies to deliver IT and OT convergence, all while leveraging sustainability momentum and championing a greener future.

Empower a Future-Ready Workforce

Building a future-ready workforce goes beyond the factory floor alone, and should be a top-down, organization-wide priority. Chief Experience Officers and executive leadership alike must spearhead the effort to prioritize talent initiatives.

Overall change management, skill upgrades through training, and education are all essential for building a workforce for the future. To empower a truly scalable, future-ready workforce, manufacturers will also need to engage with strategic partners and invest in scalable centers of excellence (COE) and delivery centers.

Leverage Data to Solve Supply Chain Challenges

54% of companies have acknowledged that their supply chain has changed significantly in the last two years. During the pandemic, many manufacturers were not equipped to handle the mounting supply chain pressures and labor shortages that ensued.

The solution is in the data. To ensure preparedness for the future, manufacturers should focus on tapping into data to improve logistical and post-sale efficiency, utilizing an integrated collaborative platform for planning, and implementing automated operations and goods-to-person technologies to improve the efficiency of operations and mitigate similar unexpected labor shortages.

What’s further, leaders should increase the amount of data that their organizations provide to suppliers, and vice versa. Sharing long-term forecasting, production data, scheduling, etc., promotes a data-driven culture that can enhance collaboration with suppliers and partners – increasing competitive edge and improving overall business outcomes.

By leveraging data in new and innovative ways, the manufacturers will be prepared for the future, instead of scrambling to adapt to it. 

Ensure Your OT Security

In any organization, OT cybersecurity is critical. Pulling large quantities of data can open manufacturers up to several unwanted security threats, making preparedness key for preventing potential security breaches. Implementing cybersecurity measures, enabling cloud monitoring capabilities, testing for threats, and investing in a mechanism for responding to threats should be prioritized in advance to avoid losing the trust of your customers.

Thinking of cybersecurity as an afterthought is no longer a viable strategy, and leaders who utilize this method open their organizations up to significant potential risks.

The convergence of IT, OT, data-based decision-making enabled through hyper scalers, and new guidelines around sustainability and supply chain are pushing manufacturers to refine their operations strategy. This can be a significant challenge for enterprises but, with the right strategy, can deliver business-wide results.

Preparation is key, and by outlining the proper roadmap – and ensuring that your organization has readied itself for this process – the transformation can be seamless.

The future of manufacturing is intelligent – and it has already arrived.

Vamshi Rachakonda is Vice President of Manufacturing, Automotive, and Life Sciences at Capgemini Americas. Venkata Achanti is Vice President of Cloud, and Custom Applications at Capgemini America.

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