We can write at length about the problems facing manufacturers today. There’s nothing new about rising challenges in an industry that is heavily dependent on manual labor, fragile supply chains, and outside inputs. And, while for years, manufacturers have been able to get by, the pandemic proved to be a pivotal tipping point.Since the early months of 2020, many have been forced to accelerate smart technology adoption to safeguard their business.
Smart technology (i.e. Industry 4.0) isn’t a futuristic or unproven concept. These tools and applications are very real and at work within a growing number of industries – especially the manufacturing sector. In fact, in a survey by McKinsey& Company, 94 percent of manufacturers confirmed that this technology helped them to keep operations running during the COVID outbreak, and 56 percent said it had been critical to their crisis responses.
It is becoming increasingly clear that technology implementation, or expansion, is no longer a luxury. Rather, it is the foundation for business now and for the decades to come. If you’re not ahead of, or at least on the technology curve, you’re living on borrowed time.
Technology is evolving at a rapid pace
Smart technology allows manufacturers to improve productivity, uncover hidden capacity, and reduce costs. These and other factors are now more important than ever. Research shows that, across industries and geography, the pace of adoption is growing, with a large majority of manufacturers recognizing the importance of implementing smart manufacturing to remain competitive.
With advancements in automation, connectivity, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and beyond, Industry 4.0 technology is transforming the way businesses operate. Innovation has led to the development of more integrated systems that can connect and coordinate processes from the front office across the manufacturing floor to the shipping dock. Additionally, the use of data analytics and machine learning has allowed for the optimization of manufacturing processes and the prediction of equipment failures, leading to increased efficiency and reduced downtime. As technology continues to advance, smart manufacturing is becoming even more integrated and connected, moving towards fully autonomous and self-optimizing factories.
The benefits outweigh the cost of implementation
One key benefit of smart technology is the ability to gather and analyze data in real-time. This allows management to monitor operations and identify areas where improvements can be made. Various data acquisition methods (sensors, PLC connectivity, APIs, and other communication protocols) from both automated and non-automated manufacturing systems provide information on machine performance, production rates, quality, yield, and more. Quick access to this data allows management to optimize production schedules, reduce downtime, and identify potential issues before they become major problems.
Smart technology also offers the ability to create more agile production processes. This is particularly important in today's fast-paced business environment, where companies must quickly adapt to changing market conditions and customer demands. Now manufacturers have the reliable insight to quickly switch between products or production lines, which helps better meet their customers' needs.
Using technology not only allows manufacturers to become more responsive, productive, and efficient, but it also reduces the company’s environmental impact while saving money on energy and other costs. It’s no secret that evolving ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) standards will influence business operations. Those who stay on top of how technology like smart manufacturing advances green initiatives by reducing energy consumption, minimizing waste, reducing carbon emissions, and tracking related data, will undoubtedly have a clear advantage.
Despite its many benefits, many remain hesitant to invest in smart technology. These companies cite a variety of factors including concerns about cost, lack of expertise, and resistance to change. It’s important to note, however, that smart technology is not just for large companies with deep pockets. Many cost-effective solutions are available for small and medium-sized manufacturers, and many of these can be easily integrated into existing operations.
Answering the concerns of many
At Worximity, we’ve taken a step back to fully understand the needs of our clients and the industry. According to Worximity founder, Yannick Desmarais, “The sheer volume of data available from a plant or multiple plants can be overwhelming. Decision makers must have actionable data without relying on a team of analysts to provide it.”
That’s why last year we set out to develop a cost-effective solution to close the loop between the acquisition of production data and the analysis of it to drive improvement. Our software transforms key metrics from the shop floor into concrete improvement opportunities prioritized according to the highest impact on the bottom line. A comprehensive solution that goes beyond real-time production monitoring.
What’s more, Worximity provides an understanding of, not only which actions will deliver the fastest and biggest ROI, but the exact order in which issues should be addressed. Desmarais explained that these enhancements stem from the company’s ongoing quest to provide manufacturers with even more value, detail, and responsiveness.
Imagine coming into work, after having toured the manufacturing floor, you open your computer, tablet, or phone to a list of opportunities that will help you do everything from improve productivity, to increase capacity and boost margin. Opportunities that are organized according to how much money they can add back to the business. That’s game-changing. But delaying investment will only cost you.
“Leveraging historical performance to understand long-term trends is critical to making improvement decisions,” said Desmarais. “This requires a minimum amount of data. Ultimately, what this means for you is that the later you start, the more catching up you’ll need to do."
The time is now
There are no excuses. Today’s smart technology is scalable, affordable, and adaptable to virtually any manufacturing application. This point is echoed by Veronic Chenier, Director of Continuous Improvement for galvanized steel ventilation ducts manufacturer, Prolifik.
“We’re a small company of 75 employees, proving that anyone can connect their business,” she said. “You just need to put things into perspective, allocate the right resources, and proceed gradually. You don't have to connect all your lines at once and you don’t need a director of improvement or a big supporting infrastructure to get results.”
Today, there are two types of manufacturers: those investing in smart technology and those content with business as usual. The future of any manufacturer hinges on the ability to embrace technologies that will generate measurable bottom-line improvements. This is why CFOs like vehicle exhaust manufacturer, Martin & Ginger Barkey’s Edward Henderson understand that such advantages are the result of investing in the company’s future.
“We consider Worximity to be an investment rather than an expense,” said Henderson. “The software is quick to deploy and easily integrates with our legacy equipment. This all adds up to a quantifiable and continuous return on investment.”
Learn more about our one-month paid trial and our ongoing coaching and support that is guaranteed to give you results.