Your Factory's Digital Manufacturing Roadmap: A 5+ Item Checklist!

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By Peggy Fonrose - October 29, 2021

The right path can make all the difference in getting your factory to where you want it to be. A digital manufacturing roadmap is a lot like the roadmap you use when traveling. It gets you from A to B with as little hassle as possible—over smooth roads, on time, and with important pit stops marked along the way. You can travel without a map and without GPS. It’s just harder, and you’re a lot more likely to get lost.

It’s the same with your digital manufacturing transformation. You can get your facility to its goal without a roadmap, but it’ll probably take longer, and you’ll risk plenty of resources to get there.

At Worximity, we work to make the journey as simple as possible for our clients. Whether it is our dedicated staff of experts and customer service professionals or our wealth of knowledge and proven best practices, you’re never more than a click or call away from a solution.

If you’re ready to evolve from a 20th century factory into a 21st century leader in digital manufacturing, here’s some easy-to-follow advice—a digital manufacturing roadmap—to help you stay on course and arrive safely at your destination.

Advice for Your Digital Manufacturing Journey

1. Have a Clear Vision (Know Where You’re Going)

We all know someone who’ll just get in their car and hit the open road, not knowing where they’ll end up. This is a BAD idea for your digital manufacturing journey. According to Boston Consulting Group, only 30 percent of digital transformation efforts succeed, compared to 70 percent of more traditional IT projects.

Creating a readiness assessment is the best first step to:

  • Account for the many ways digital transformations differ from your previous IT developments.
  • Set clear objectives, target goals, and begin thinking about KPIs to measure.
  • Consider where your business is (e.g., current performance, current pain points, where you rank in the market and compared to competition).
  • Bring in fresh perspectives (e.g., leaders, management, staff, outside experts).

Readiness assessments give you the chance to take a breath and not rush change. This pre-transformation assessment keeps your decision-making less emotional and more rational.

2. Address Inefficiencies & Complex Processes ASAP

Once you know where you’re headed, it’s time to figure out how to get there with as little difficulty as possible. On the road, that means avoiding potholes, construction zones, weather damage, or rough terrain. For your move to digital, it’s all about eliminating bottlenecks, staff or equipment inefficiencies, unnecessary overhead costs, and technologies you just don’t need.

A digital continuous improvement plan can help. Its ROI is high and its operational costs are low. More data can be captured than with a traditional, manual plan, and everything from data to final analysis is done faster and with greater reliability. All in all, you find the quickest, most convenient route to get to your digital manufacturing destination.

3. Keep Your Team Moving in The Right Direction

You have the right route; now, it’s about getting your people in place. Who is driving the car? Who is navigating? Who is responsible for snacks? Putting the right people in place as you travel can cut down on costs and time and headaches.

When you conduct your readiness assessment and digital continuous improvement plan, look out for the employees who are the most engaged and the most enthusiastic. 

They need to be in on this from the start. Consider the following questions:

  • Who is most unsure of the plan? 
  • Who fears the move to digital? 

Get these naysayers in early, too—they’ll help you responsibly assess what can go wrong. And if they end up getting turned around on digital, it’s a sign you’re doing it right!

4. Prioritize Communication Across Your Supply Chain

Communication has to be about more than just your internal team—you need to be in conversation with your whole supply chain.

Start by telling your trusted business partners what you are doing, why you are doing it, and how it can help their business too. Where possible, share information and best practices so everyone can move in the same direction and at a pace that doesn’t leave anyone behind.

Finally, keep talking with them. As your digital manufacturing transformation progresses, see what they think. Do your suppliers and consumers support your transformation efforts? Are you creating unintentional new pain points? The more you can communicate effectively, the more you’ll avoid hurting the business you’re trying to help.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Directions

Proper change management requires that you make adjustments to a business plan if things go wrong. Plenty of businesses have been where you are. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and advice. Our team of experts can assist you with identifying valuable resources, and there are countless communities of business leaders willing and ready to share their experience—you’re probably part of some already!

Before you can lead, sometimes you have to follow where others have been. Use their insights to locate new trends in digital, new technologies that could work for your business, effective best practices, and lessons learned and mistakes to avoid.

6. Watch Your Speed Limits and Gas Gauge

Just like on the road, if you go too far or too fast, you can find yourself in trouble. Whether it is undergoing a digital transformation, implementing a Smart Factory system, or any other growth project, you have to walk before you can run. Trying to go faster than your capabilities can result in systems failing and confidence falling, or you could even end up worse off than when you started.

Think about what is achievable today. It may not be your ultimate goal, but sometimes you can only go so far with the resources available. To fully milk the road trip metaphor: How far can your car go on one full tank of gas? Know your limitations. When you advance smartly, the opportunities to scale up will reveal themselves.

7. Today’s Destination Is Tomorrow’s Starting Point

A manufacturer’s journey never ends. There’s always a new product, a new technology, a new market, a new supply chain partner, or a new way to build and add to your team.

Keep an eye out for what your competition is doing or how your current technologies may be falling behind what’s trendy. Digital manufacturing transformation is going to be a foundational part of successful businesses well into the next decade and beyond. Don’t let this roadmap become a one-and-done resource; every time you are ready to level up or jump forward, use these steps to make the most out of that journey.

Smart Factory Analytics Make Digital Manufacturing Easier to Achieve

Successful digital manufacturing doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a constant journey, and the right roadmap makes everything easier. Our Smart Factory e-book can be that roadmap you keep by your side as your business grows. Free to access, Smart Factory Analytics, will help you:

  • Identify internal champions of change
  • Locate factory bottlenecks and inefficiencies
  • Create a plan to measure the right things and ignore the noise
  • Calculate a realistic and attainable project ROI
  • Select the optimal technology solution for your business

If you’re ready to travel the open road toward digital manufacturing, Worximity’s resources can assist you on your journey. Download the Smart Factory Analytics e-book today and work with the technology professionals who’ll put your business needs front and center.Smart Factory Analytics Ebook

Worximity provides simple realtime technologies to solve food processor pains such as downtime, rejects, waste, overtime; helping them gain profit velocity by improving throughput, yield and OEE.

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