Everyone knows that global manufacturing is changing at a pace that even Usain Bolt couldn’t match in his hey-day!  But, when you actually take the time to meet senior leaders within the manufacturing sector (from IT and engineering to micro-biologists) and understand what’s important to them, it’s that same things as before: productivity, quality and reputation.

So what has changed and why is it important?

 

Firstly, listening to the senior leaders to understand where they are on their digital transformation journey (along side their “Industry 4.0” journey) – and how they have implemented the latest technologies to improve their processes from field to factory and right the way through their supply chain to their end customer was fascinating; AR is proving invaluable (reducing operator time to set up factory equipment by 25%), so is AI (keeping operators up to 50% more productive on production tasks).

 

Secondly, the technology points:

  • IIoT/IoT is rife; but big questions are still being asked about who is responsible for securing these devices on the factory floor or when they hit the end consumer? One key message from multiple sources at the event was: if you have a smart kettle or smart teddy at home – turn it off now! I found that marrying unified communications with IoT strategies were not commonplace, but by talking through Charterhouse’s use cases, coupled with Mitel’s advanced UC and cloud technology, proved to be a huge hit – offering automation of processes based on sensor/probe/big data information being fed via an automated process through CMR/ERP systems has huge benefits to make use of machine-human and machine-machine interactions
  • Big data and analytics; integrating legacy systems, processes and machines with new and getting intelligent and meaningful information from unstructured data is in big demand and of huge importance to any business
  • The gaps are still evident between IT and OT strategies; the corporate IT machine typically leaves in its wake the operational side of the business, but service workers (the “boots”) & information workers (the “uniforms”) are key to success in the manufacturing sector (the remaining 20% being knowledge workers – or the “suits”. This makes it crucial to the business making the right choices to standardise and centralise technology across the business
  • Mobility & devices; even though there are more mobile devices in the world than people, it was surprising to learn that some workers are using the wrong type of device for their job function integrated
  • Customer experience; by 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator. If reputation is key and the customer is always right then the best route to delivery is to accelerate workflows through an integrated multi-media/channel contact centre and automation of processes – faster resolution will improve advocacy

And finally, with all this technology transforming the manufacturing sector, the sky is the limit right?  Who knows?  An interesting question that no one was willing to either confirm or deny, was whether the digital foundation that underpins everything – block chain – will enhance or hinder their business within 3 years…watch this space!

 

Charterhouse has a clear strategy focused on the manufacturing sector; the next time you hear a machine with a voice (or a machine talk) – think Charterhouse!