This article is published by Skoda Minotti’s Manufacturing & Distribution Group.
Digitalization – i.e., the process of converting information into a digital format for any number of possible uses – is an evolving and highly competitive tool throughout the business world—and yet, many manufacturing leaders still are reluctant to embrace it. Companies that have implemented digital processes and tools, or are in the process of doing so, stand to benefit in big ways. Those that have yet to embrace digitalization, meanwhile, are quickly falling behind.
In an increasingly digital world, digitalization is proving to be a key differentiator in today’s manufacturing industry; as a result, most industry experts agree it must be adopted and implemented into core engineering processes in order to develop, and eventually maintain, competitive advantages.
The manufacturing sector is no stranger to change. Thirty years ago, manufacturers began automating processes and production in earnest. In the preceding two decades, technology and network communication advances have led manufacturers to coordinate automation and design. This, in turn, began to increase the capabilities of production processes. In today’s digital age, manufacturers can now replicate digital processes, which enables them to both enhance products and production processes simultaneously.
In a broad sense, digitalization offers numerous benefits across each focus of a manufacturing company’s production:
Efficiency – As commodity and energy prices continue to rise, sustainable production and waste reduction are fast becoming mainstream practices. Digitalization helps propel these initiatives in both areas through multiple strategies and tactics.
Quality – Digitalization facilitates traceability of process steps and sourcing of materials used in production processes.
Adaptability – Many manufacturing consumers demand customization. Manufacturers, therefore, must be able to respond to changes immediately and offer variety and functionality tailored not only to regional markets but also individual customer requirements.
Time to market – Products across industry sectors are becoming more and more complex. As this occurs, product lifecycles must be significantly reduced, and new products must be developed faster. Digitalization is the means to accomplishing all this.
Digitalization opens doors for manufacturing companies to discover and develop new business models that can potentially increase cash flow and profits. Whether it entails adding functionality to existing product lines or creating entirely new revenue streams for your company, transforming your manufacturing operation with advanced automation and digitalization can create sizable benefits that may exponentially increase over time.
Change can be stressful. But digitalization is growing, and its full integration in manufacturing is all-but-inevitable. Thankfully, it’s scalable – you can integrate it over time – so getting started means developing a strategy, taking small but meaningful steps, and pursuing the plan over time with fidelity and determination.