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The term ‘digital transformation’ has attracted a lot of attention across the manufacturing industry and throughout the media recently. Defined by The Enterprisers Project, digital transformation is “the integration of digital technology into all areas of a business, resulting in fundamental changes to how businesses operate and how they deliver value to customers.”
With digitalisation comes the rise of trends such as Industry 4.0, smart manufacturing and smart factories.
Industry 4.0, also known as the fourth industrial revolution, is all about focusing on connectivity and communication. It presents us with a future where devices are connected so that they can communicate and make smart decisions.
Digital transformation is a combination of traditional manufacturing processes enhanced with new advancing technologies, working together to drive manufacturing forward and address inefficiencies in the current sector. Driven by technology, Industry 4.0 will transform production and reshape businesses, creating greater efficiency and better relationships between producers, suppliers and customers.
Global Data’s Disruptor Tech Database reveals that big data, analytics and additive manufacturing (3D printing) are amongst the technologies considered crucial in transforming industrial manufacturing. Powered by data and automation, digitalisation is transforming every step of the manufacturing process, from supply chain and enterprise to the shop floor and end users.
Smart manufacturing is connecting factories digitally, with central networks linking with machines, not only to automate but to learn processes independently, adapt to change, generate orders, understand quality issues and even assign tasks to other machines.
But how will this affect manufacturers?
Smart manufacturing, mass customisation, automation and lean manufacturing are disrupting the industry. By adopting and implementing smart technologies, manufacturers can increase productivity, improve inefficiencies and further sustainability. Smart manufacturing can increase throughput, uptime and performance while reducing overhead, operating and capital costs.
With the introduction of smart manufacturing and smart factories comes the importance of good data. Information is an asset to all businesses and is now powering digital transformation by enabling real-time, learning-based decision-making across all business operations, including product development, manufacturing, supply chain and customer experience.
Manufacturers need to take inspiration from past industrial revolutions, embracing the change or risk to stay competitive.
Change is scalable and with a few small changes manufacturers can improve their data, make better connections between systems and teams and ultimately make their business more digital, resulting in a better customer experience.
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