According to a recent report by Smart Industry, digital transformation initiatives in the industrial sector have steadily advanced over the past four years. However, the same survey found that there is still a lack in confidence that their companies have done enough to achieve the touted benefits of digital transformation. This got me thinking about what I see as the top three tips that will ensure your organization capitalizes on your digital transformation.
Tip 1. Think big, Start Small, Fail Fast, and Scale Quick
A major obstacle that is holding back companies from putting their digital transformation in to full gear revolve around the roadmap to digitization and how to get there. This is an area where a lot of work has been done and much has been accomplished. In fact, the roadmaps and the planning started long before IoT or Industry 4.0 were ‘real’, and results are now emerging. However, a digitization strategy alone should not be perceived as the journey nor the vehicle. It is simply a map. How you travel, at what speed, in which vehicle, and what parts of the journey you undertake all depend on the culture, the people, and the process. Just as very rarely do you plan the entire trip across the continent, the key is to start somewhere, otherwise it will get overwhelming. Taking on an agile, fail-fast mentality will help you to get on the road and to get wins on the board.
Tip 2. Empower Smarter Operations
People, culture, and processes have always been the foundations of any change and that is no different when it comes to digitization. Many industries are facing a human capital crisis with the retirement of baby boomers and soon the Gen X workforce. Prior to the proliferation of IoT, and even now, there is an inherent art in managing operations and assets efficiently based on decades of experience. While IoT has simply tried to “quantify” this, we are far from perfecting it in its execution.
At the same time, we have been presenting operators with magnitudes of data more than ever but rarely with actionable information or intelligence. The capacity of the human brain to process data hasn’t kept pace with the volume of data, nor will the younger operators that don’t have decades of expertise to count on.
To mitigate the risk of retiring expertise, and take advantage of the information age, we need to elevate our operators away from repetitive task of parsing data to instead making decisions based on their expertise and the actionable insights provided to them by tools, such as artificial intelligence (AI) platforms. We saw this when robotics came to the factory floors and we equipped and trained operators to do more complex and sophisticated tasks vs. the mundane and repetitive ones. The impact of doing this with AI has been estimated by Accenture to increase workforce productivity by 40%.
Tip 3. Understand, Optimize, Automate
Key to capitalizing on your digital transformation is having the tools and technological capabilities to respond quickly and with agility in times of change. This is why it is increasingly important for AI to underpin every aspect of your digital transformation strategy.
While an immediate benefit of AI is its ability to crunch the massive amount of data being generated on a factory floor or a plant faster and more accurately than possible with humans, the real value is the ability to derive deeper insights from the data and identify opportunities to not only optimize individual machines but automate the entire manufacturing line.
This starts by using AI to understand and formulate complex processes. In many operations, there are aspects or parameters of a process that isn’t fully understood or quantified. Once that has been accomplished, optimization can take place and then eventually autonomous operations.
Today, with AI, industrial companies are experiencing real benefits to their bottom line. By being able to predict equipment failures, improve capacity planning and monitor the quality of production throughout the process, AI-powered environments are producing better quality output, resulting in less scrap, lower operating costs and reduced energy consumption. And where many organizations have launched remote and integrated operations or lights out initiatives but have struggled to achieve results at scale due to current methodologies, the predictive capabilities of AI can be a game changer.
Canvass Analytics’ vision for AI-powered industrial analytics goes beyond notifying operators that parameters have fallen out of spec, but to advance industrial operations to a point where AI will optimize and automate them, avoiding quality defects altogether. If you are ready to learn more about Canvass Analytics and how we are supporting some of the world’s leading industrial companies to accelerate their digital transformation, contact us today.