We are revisiting the topic of digital transformation from our previous post on Industry 4.0 and Manufacturing, which focused mainly on the different technologies being adopted in this sector. This time, we look more closely at the challenges and opportunities in manufacturing, fresh off the pandemic as well to see what is needed to propel business and revenues in this space.
Manufacturers have generally been slow to catch on to the Industry 4.0 bandwagon compared to other sectors like Supply Chain and Insurance. The general reluctance among industry experts and leaders in the field to adopt 4.0 technologies including Intelligent Automation, Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), etc. has got everything to do with costs and return on investment.
Especially for small and mid-sized firms catering to select market segments, there doesn’t seem to be a great need to go digital when things are running their course in optimal fashion. Also, another factor contributing to their reluctance is the costs involved in hiring and honing skilled labor to operate these new age technologies. Traditional manufacturing methods get the job done adequately.
It is only in the past few years, with global economic uncertainties looming large and long, that companies are beginning to realize the need for “accelerators” in this field. The need to change is also because of the emergence of a connected enterprise that is forcing both SMBs and large corporations to build integrated systems within their businesses to keep up with the rest of the world. The 3 challenges facing manufacturers in adopting new technologies:
...are also opportunities for growth and sustainable business development. By addressing these difficulties, companies will be able to take the leap in digital transformation sooner than estimated.
Since data forms the crux of business operations in this sector, optimizing data-driven operations can be the starting point of overcoming these challenges and setting the course for through and through digital transformation.
Most manufacturing companies still resort to dealing with paper and paper-based processes. Incorrect data entry, filing, missing paperwork, time-to-retrieve, reworks, cross-checking and validation, and approvals for file transfers to the next stage of business — all add to the mounting costs of manual paperwork. Having a system in place to consolidate all business data from distributed networks on a single platform can increase visibility, transparency, accountability, and timely implementations of process and data flows across an enterprise. This is the beginning of establishing a connected enterprise, which will set the stage for steady digital transformation within companies.
Having control over data and data-driven processes also sets the ball rolling for adoption of other Industry 4.0 technologies — Machine Learning and IIoT technologies depend heavily on data, which is why having a mechanism to ensure ready data availability across an organization makes it convenient to implement these new age technologies faster. Intelligent Process Automation of document-based functions gives companies ready business data.
Timely sharing of accurate data and business information is what makes a connected enterprise. By controlling data and data-driven processes, manufacturing units, big and small, will be starting off on the right foot in their journey towards Industry 4.0 adoption.
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