Technical focus

Make your industrial digital transformation a success

Involved in more than 200 industrial digital transformation projects over the last few years, Creative IT would like to share its experience with you in order to carry out your own project and allow you to benefit from it as soon as possible.

We are talking about transformation because it is the whole activity of a company that is impacted with in-depth changes, which can go from a modification of the organization to the establishment of a new business model. The technologies and the ecosystem that accompany these changes (towards factory 4.0) have now reached maturity, allowing us to better respond to the needs of manufacturers by guaranteeing the success of their project.

Article outline :

  • Factory 4.0 as seen by Creative IT experts
  • What not to do to take full advantage of these technological advances
  • How to make money with your industrial digital transformation ?

Reading time: 8 minutes

For 88% of French companies, the priority in 2020 will be digital transformation

Source : 2020 Netwrix IT Trends Report
Transformation digitale industrielle - exemple d'animation d'équipe en temps réel

In concrete terms, the industrial digital transformation will simultaneously address several issues:

  • Achieve a high degree of adaptability to respond to rapid changes in your markets
  • Manage the operational efficiency of production units
  • Monitor and measure industrial performance in real time
  • Reduce or even eliminate additional costs related to maintenance, quality management, information transmission, etc.
  • Provide a digital tool to reduce repetitive actions and make production data more reliable.
  • Familiarize operational staff with digital technology to promote change management: actors, not users.
  • Optimize energy efficiency by monitoring energy consumption.

Complex and costly to implement, some industrial digital transformation projects end in failure.

The reasons?

Underestimated complexity, uncontrolled costs and deadlines, solution unsuited to real needs, unstable internal organization, poorly evaluated change management are all inputs that influence the implementation of a solution, which is sometimes not even usable.

For this reason, a phased approach allows to considerably reduce the risks and, above all, to perceive the gains of this transformation more quickly.

Factory 4.0 as seen by Creative IT experts

Industry 4.0, Industry of the Future, connected factory, Factory 4.0, industrial digital transformation, digital transformation: so many words that we find in the readings of industrialists who have made changes in their organizations in order to optimize their industrial performance, economic performance, and more generally their supply chain through the adoption of digital technologies.

The 3 most promising technologies

The three most promising technologies in terms of ease of implementation and return on investment are :

  • The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) which allows to collect data thanks to sensors and to restore the information in real time
  • Industrial Big Data to improve the processing of collected data and consequently the efficiency of plants and the understanding of processes (predictive maintenance, machine learning, etc…)
  • Cloud services to centralize, monitor and secure data, and reduce hardware and resource costs related to the maintenance of application servers on industrial sites.

Other technologies also allow digital technology to be brought into the workshop, but they are less successful with manufacturers. These include additive manufacturing, cobots, Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality, etc. ….

Challenges related to the shift to digital industrial transformation

The transition to the connected factory is an issue that is well understood by manufacturers, but there are still many challenges linked to the shift to digital industrial transformation:

The first is to know what to do, when and how. Indeed, with the arrival of these new technologies, new business models with new ways of designing and new methods of manufacturing are emerging. The complexity of this changing environment has a strong impact on decision making. By being accompanied, the company limits the experiments that cost time and money, but also the bad maneuvers.

The second challenge, which is just as important, is to make a substantial financial investment to digitalize its production. Digitalization becomes an industrial investment axis in the same way as a machine or a new production unit. It is important to know that local authorities provide both consulting services (with experts in industrial organization) and a whole range of support for productive investment (up to 30% of your projects funded).

The third is to federate the teams around these new digital tools. Easy to say, harder to do. The digital tool should not be the choice of the project or IT teams alone, but also the choice of the future users.

Transformation digitale industrielle - les erreurs à éviter

What not to do to take advantage of the digital transformation

1 | Thinking that its industrial digital transformation is to quickly integrate a multitude of features/technologies

The many opportunities that digital offers to the industry make it very easy to get lost in it. With the ultimate prospect of getting the factory fully connected, critical goals and needs tend to be forgotten/minimized. This is not the way we recommend.
To obtain the desired result, the best solution is to start with a smooth digitization and to proceed step by step to answer the different problems one by one.
Let the experts guide you through their needs analysis and compare it to the solutions you had imagined. You won’t regret it!

2 | Thinking that your digital transformation will take less than a year

With 20 years of experience in the field, our observation is the following: projects always last longer than initially planned and schedules are not always respected. Because the arrival of a new software is an upheaval for a company and we do not measure enough the impact that it will have on the organization. It seems crucial to us to involve the business and the end users in the choice of the solution.

To be successful and obtain results, a more progressive approach makes it possible to quickly realize these unidentified training needs at the outset and to put them in place during the deployment of the solution. This ultimately ensures a quick start-up but also a better adhesion of the operators.

3 | Thinking that technology integration will solve all your problems

First of all, you should not start your industrial digital transformation without first identifying your return on investment (ROI). We are able to assist you in this ROI study so that you can benefit from our experience and our calculation tools. Secondly, it is necessary to start on the right footing and this will not work if the organization does not have full confidence in the solution with which it has chosen to move forward.

Digital transformation is not a cure-all. But deployed in the right environment, at the right time and with the right partners, it will bring its full added value.

4 | Delaying digital transformation because of unidentified needs

You are not yet sure that your specifications reflect all your needs and you wait until you have analyzed everything? However, it is impossible to anticipate certain needs that appear during the project.

So the way to go is to choose a solution that will fit accordingly and start with what you have on hand.

Other pitfalls

Investment choices, Proof Of Concept, lack of resources: there are many pitfalls in plant computerization projects. Topics that we have already had the opportunity to address in our webinars >> Webinars Webikeo – chaîne Creative IT


How to make money with your industrial digital transformation?

#1 | Adopting the right approach and anticipating organizational problems

Although the projects are all different, there is always a common winning process:

Identification of needs

Group the main needs of manufacturers into several categories: improving product quality, eliminating overcosts, setting up a better organization, improving information transmission, collecting more data, etc.

… and technologies

Which solution(s) will you choose to meet them?  If your needs are very different from each other, you should consider using service providers who will be able to integrate different technologies and connect them to your plants.

Setting up a pilot

To validate the choice of the solution according to the needs of your organization, equip a pilot line and test the solution to obtain feedback from the users, and integrate the modifications as you go along. The choice of the pilot line is preferable to the POC (Proof Of Concept): the POC is often similar to a demonstrator where the collection of data from production is not really exploited. On the other hand, the choice of the pilot line allows to have a real-life setting. This choice is more pragmatic and sustainable for the future generalization of the digital tool.

ROI calculation

In this third step, you will be able to start estimating an ROI by identifying long-term costs and making a forecast of potential gains.

Deployments

Finally, once you are convinced of the usefulness and profitability of the system in place, it is time to deploy it on other production lines, or even in your other factories.

At the same time, we need to consider the impact that the change will have on the work of operators, because it is around them that the digital tool should be built.

It is necessary to raise awareness upstream, to reassure and inform well before the project starts. This will allow for better acceptance, rapid learning and therefore a good command of the tool. And it is with this change management that the organization becomes agile and takes real advantage of the digital solution in order to show the ROI of the project.

#2 | Approach your project with an ROI-oriented approach

If manufacturers embark on a transformation of their factories, it is not simply to improve their image, it is to improve performance at the production level and gain in competitiveness.

How do you make money fast with your digital transformation? First, you need to focus on the easy wins:

  • Real time communication in the factory
  • Recording of all data
  • Animation on digital media
  • Change the image of the production
  • Data exploitation

And to do it in the long run?

pilotez votre transformation digitale industrielle par les gains

#3 | Start with a simple 1st step

Manufacturers can choose visual management (or visual animation of team meetings) as the first step in their industrial digital transformation. It allows to collect already existing data, to then optimize the exploitation of these data and to convey the information in real time for more reactivity in the decision making. The operators become familiar with the digital tool and the results are directly visible.

With TV screens in the workshops, the operational teams will be able to follow the indicators in real time and effectively diagnose productivity losses and eliminate problems related to the transmission of information. The goal is to increase reactivity in the workshops.

#4 | Deployments on several sites – parallelize the appropriation time

Still with a view to profitability, industrial digital transformation on several production sites can be carried out in several ways.

Currently, this is the way things are done: a software project is tested on a “pilot/test” plant, the results are evaluated over several months or even years and an identical functional scope is deployed progressively in the other plants. However, this is not the most profitable method.

In our experience, we recommend testing the solution on a first plant for a few months, then as soon as the first results of the software production are conclusive, we must learn from them and quickly start a second wave of launching on 2-3 other sites. This will lead to a successive roll-out to the various sites, with the knowledge acquired being used at each new plant equipped.

This approach has the added advantage of being able to learn while implementing the solution. The real plus is the autonomy that the manufacturer will then have to implement the solution in other production sites faster and better.

In addition, the first gains allow us to finance the rest: we will enter into a system of self-financing of the digital transformation solution.

Pilotez votre transformation digitale industrielle par le ROI

Conclusion

Thanks to the feedback and the active listening of the various actors of the industry, we propose a methodology closer to the expectations of the manufacturers facing the challenges of the industrial digital transformation.

To find out more about this new approach, just watch our webinar series on our Webikeo channel.

How to deploy digital in your plants in a cost-effective way?

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