Accelerating Manufacturing Competitiveness
- January 18, 2022
Most manufacturers have started embracing Industry 4.0 (I4.0) or plan to do so in the near term. These plans reflect the pressure on manufacturers to remain competitive and agile. To better understand the challenges of transforming for I4.0 as well as the benefits of that transformation, NTT DATA recently joined with Oxford Economics to survey 528 business and IT executives. The survey has made clear that the manufacturing leaders are thinking about both the promise and the challenges of the I4.0 transformation. The survey has revealed several interesting facts about the I4.0 transformation.
Continuing acceleration fueled by data
Certainly, manufacturers have no shortage of data — from machines, sensors, PLCs, and more. Accessing the data is not itself a significant challenge. But creating semantic data is. It requires putting context around data coming from disparate devices and systems, and then deriving actionable insights via AI and ML.
But manufacturers often find that getting data into the cloud, where AI and ML algorithms can do their work, poses challenges. The data volume, data security, data governance, interoperability, and performance need to be consulted. This complex issue varies by company, but addressing it is foundational to accelerating competitiveness.
Delivering a better customer experience means making informed decisions that best serve the needs and desires of customers. Indeed, manufacturers reported using data and analytics predominantly in customer-centric areas like customer and sales operations (48%) and after-sales services (45%). But that requires an intelligent approach to managing and making the most of your data.
Enabling the workforce with Industry 4.0
Workforce enablement is one of the key aspects of Industry 4.0's ability to accelerate manufacturing competitiveness. Consider how to bring the new generation of millennials into the shop floor. Technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) have come into play for extended collaboration and virtual training of employees.
Most manufacturers — 70% — have reskilled employees for work with digital technologies. Almost as many have trained workers around new processes (66%) and technologies (61%). These results demonstrate a solid commitment to harnessing I4.0 transformations, and maximizing their benefit to the workforce is a priority.
Sustainability drives transformation
It's evident from the survey that achieving sustainability targets is one of the key business objectives of Industry 4.0 transformation. The leaders believe that I4.0 could potentially reduce the environmental impact of a product, process, or service. Therefore, Industry 4.0 might contribute to developing sustainable digital operations, allowing the manufacturers to meet their sustainability targets.
Achieving faster benefits and ROI from Industry 4.0
Equally important to accelerating competitiveness is finding ways to realize more immediate advantages and swifter return on investment from Industry 4.0.
- The first requirement is to ensure that you have a very clear objective of the business problem you seek to address. That might be improving operational efficiency, reducing costs, or combining all of those.
- The second concern is ensuring operational visibility. You can't fix the problem if you don't have a detailed and precise picture of what you want to fix. This process entails having a basic understanding of what business problem you want to address, the current maturity level and what kind of IT infrastructure exists.
- The third consideration is ensuring that you have the right tools to realize your vision. And, most importantly, ensuring that you have the right partner who understands your ecosystem very well.
Our survey covered all of the topics we have discussed. In addition, the survey branched out to areas such as prioritizing revenue growth, cost reduction and increased resiliency and innovation for the three years ahead. If any of this resonates, I invite you to view the report. I think you'll find it illuminating.