From the earliest days of information technology, manufacturing firms have benefited from systems and applications that deliver greater efficiency and improved productivity. This trend is set to escalate as the manufacturing industry begins to transform through increased use of digital technologies.
The benefits of digital transformation are compelling, and the ability of manufacturers to deploy these solutions will separate digital predators from digital prey. Market research firm IDC predicts that by 2018, 60% of large manufacturers will bring in new revenue from information-based products; and by 2019, 75% of large manufacturers will update their operations with Internet of Things (IoT) and analytics-based situational awareness.
Let’s examine five key elements driving digital transformation in manufacturing, and the steps your organization can take to enable a new industrial age. Click on the picture below to start the slideshow.
Enabling Industry 4.0: Necessary people, technology, & processes
One of the mistakes that some manufacturers will make as they strive to become a digital enterprise is viewing each project as a tactical, isolated opportunity. The danger here is that a disjointed and segmented corporate technology infrastructure will emerge, which makes it impossible to link critical initiatives without major changes and large new investments. Therefore, it’s important that the chief information officer (CIO) and his/her team build a strategic digital infrastructure platform that can support all of the initiatives enabling Industry 4.0.
The platform will provide the integration and coordination required for success. However, the IT team will likely rely on key partners that bring specific expertise, skills, and technology. Managed service providers (MSPs) will be important partners, offering leading-edge solutions and the skills to deploy, administer, and manage them. Often, these will be cloud service/technology suppliers that can help the manufacturer move forward more quickly.
In the manufacturing sector, CIOs view increasing operational efficiency and transforming the business as imperative to driving technology investments
The Digital Network As the “Nervous System” for Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 depends on the real-time integration of vast amounts of data. This information must be shared with supply partners and with those who distribute and sell the finished goods. This will put a substantial strain on the wide-area network (WAN) currently in place. Many existing networks are long in the tooth, designed when digital manufacturing was science fiction. Today it is science fact, and enhancing the WAN is critical to the overall success of Industry 4.0. The network infrastructure that can deliver on the promise of Industry 4.0 must have centralized control/policy management, far greater agility and efficiency, and the ability to prioritize applications and workloads to ensure appropriate service levels. With so many moving pieces, the next-generation WAN must be able to deliver on the need to manage data flows in a granular fashion.
Global Company Deploys a Seamless Global Application Platform
An excellent example of digital transformation in action is Teknion. A leading international designer, manufacturer, and marketer of office systems and related office furniture products, Teknion needed to implement global strategic networking in order to serve its global operations and customers. It was having great difficulty connecting its sites worldwide with various suppliers in disparate countries, as well as locating issues and identifying how to quickly solve the issues.
By partnering with a managed service provider like Masergy for a next-generation secure hybrid WAN, Teknion was able to improve business agility and reduce its time to market to meet the demands of over 2000 customers worldwide. Teknion’s vision for digital transformation and quick action led to success with implementing new direct and innovative solutions on a global scale.
The Industry 4.0 initiative is transforming the manufacturing industry into a digital model. The goal of a fully integrated, digital organization that designs, builds, delivers, and tracks the use of manufactured products is the top priority for these firms. The starting point for the path to Industry 4.0 will be the deployment of a next-generation and secure IT infrastructure that can support individual projects that are the milestones of this journey.