The Smart Factory Part One: Digitization, Digitization, Digitization – News Couple
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The Smart Factory Part One: Digitization, Digitization, Digitization

Manufacturers and distributors want to dramatically increase their efficiency, productivity, and accuracy through intelligent technologies, data analytics, and connected services. Moving from manual processes and implementing automated solutions improves processes, improves performance monitoring and decision-making, avoids rework, downtime, defects, bottlenecks, and ultimately improves customer service and increases profitability.

The digital transformation of plant and supply chain operations and operations depends on the digitization of carefully selected machines and the digitization of related business processes. One of the main drivers of digital transformation is to give the organization the ability to respond quickly to changing market conditions and customer requirements. In a research study led by SYSPRO, 29% of companies reported that their systems lacked response during the pandemic and that they would be adopting new business systems to meet immediate needs and accelerate digital transformation.

What would they change without a thorough understanding of the new business landscape, the new technologies available, and where they can best be used? To understand this question, we need to understand the difference between digitization and digitization? These terms are often used interchangeably, yet understanding the difference is critical in moving towards smart factories powered by digital technologies.

So here it is – read on to gain a greater understanding of these concepts and the role they play in your journey to a smart factory.

Digitization: from analog information to digital data

Analog data cannot be collected or processed digitally, while digital data can be easily collected and analyzed. This will make it nearly impossible to determine any trends around things like customer preferences and requirements, as well as determine the optimal future direction for your organization from a technical perspective if the organization is only producing analog data.

Therefore, the first step is to get all the information – documents and data – in a digital format. This has two separate activities attached to it. First, collect all your old data and convert it to digital format. This means scanning documents or entering data into a computer manually. The best approach is to start with your main engines because once this information is digitized, you can start processing it to get tangible benefits for the organization.

The second step will be to transform all critical business data that is produced from now on that requires analytics to be collected from now on. You may have traveled fairly down this road already. It may seem like a fundamental change, but digitization has made it possible to eliminate paper archives as well as countless papers, folders, and files. Besides taking up much less space, digital data is easy to access, share, and manage – allowing processes to be analyzed, improved, and ultimately automated. In a factory environment, one example is the digitization of records for a more efficient way of keeping records, thus improving batch tracing.

Digitization: Transforming Business Processes

While digitization is all about documents and data, digitization is focused on digitizing existing business processes. It goes beyond digitizing information and focuses on digitizing systems and introduces the concept of automated processes to improve accuracy and efficiency.

The Internet of Things (IoT) and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIOT) are a prime example of digitization. It is about the interconnection of the supply chain – reading data from a digital machine, acting on it and sending the data to another entity in the chain. Imagine your refrigerator being able to monitor how much milk you have left, and when more is needed, it sends a notification to the dairy who then packs the milk and delivers it to you.

Using digitization, you can reliably manage daily performance, learn from the past and respond to future fluctuations in market dynamics. Drive innovation, create value, improve safety, and enhance resource management. Regular jobs have been automated and all employees are actively involved in decision making and improving business results.

Imagine a company that uses analytics powered by artificial intelligence (AI) to implement an intelligent supply chain. The system constantly monitors the performance of its devices, including early warning indicators. Thanks to AI technology, the system has a greater ability to anticipate late deliveries, material shortages, and even malfunctions before they happen.

When the sensor fires an early warning signal, the system automatically analyzes the machine’s production performance, including trends collected over the past period and predicts the best way to meet current and future demand. Then it automatically schedules maintenance work to take place before the machine fails and at a time that results in the least potential loss of business productivity. Or if the equipment breaks down, it restructures the production plan and priorities to provide the best service to important customers.

Digital Transformation: Strategy

Digital transformation is all about reimagining business in the digital age. It is about using digital technologies to create new — or modify — business processes and modify culture and customer experiences to meet changing business and market demands.

In the manufacturing and distribution industries, digital transformation often involves developing an intelligent factory that controls operations, makes decisions, transmits error warnings, and makes proactive recommendations. It’s not about handing your business over to a computer, it’s about using technology to give you insight into running your business that you didn’t have before. There is so much data, that the average human would never be able to make the best decisions. But the data supported by the analytics will actually occupy all possible iterations and will recommend the best few options.

As a result, data-driven decision making with real-time view of the plant and supply chain is an essential component of digital transformation. Helps manufacturers and distributors improve efficiency, manage risks and improve opportunities. An example of digital transformation is the integration of customer sales volumes with raw material suppliers, and the integration of the supply chain to increase efficiency and responsiveness.

The journey to the smart factory

At the heart of the smart factory is the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system. It provides an integration platform for all different systems, and provides solutions, processes, and tools to help manage data to gain key business insights and make informed decisions.

Manufacturers and distributors need a focused approach to adopting emerging technologies that can add value, simplify complexity where possible and ultimately provide a competitive advantage. Your ERP system provides much of the foundational framework required for smart and connected factories.

Digital transformation requires a well-thought-out digitization followed by a digital strategy that will put the business on the path to building a digital business. The key to successful digital transformation is aligning these initiatives with your core business goals – you can’t digitize everything and digitize because you can’t leverage and respond to all information effectively. On your journey towards digital transformation, it is essential to prepare a digital roadmap. Without a roadmap, you cannot plan or budget for the process. You also won’t have a communication plan to share with the company, ensuring they’re all on board.

Manufacturers and distributors also don’t need to see digital transformation as an “all or nothing” investment. At the most basic level, launching a Shop Floor Data Collection application is seen as one of the cornerstones of the Industry 4.0 initiative and is a good place to start. It includes tracking jobs in real time against schedule and identifying and analyzing any delays.

This is a unique journey for your business based on your unique industry challenges and the set of constraints you face in your business. Each transformation will be unique to achieve specific goals while making digital changes to operations, operations, business models, and strategies. Prepare and plan carefully, carefully explore each new technology, and understand what it can do for your transformation.



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