In an ARC Industry Forum keynote, ARC’s Andy Chatha shared research about manufacturers and producers’ desires to go digital. Key reasons include improved business responsiveness and agility, creation of new business models & revenue streams, new services based on smart connected products, increasing market presence and being a more attractive place to work for Millennial-aged people.
Some of the technology trends finding their way into automation technology include visual analytics, machine learning, streaming analytics, smart machines, cognitive computing, predictive analytics, augmented reality and smart plant apps. These technologies augment the experts across the organization and with the organization’s suppliers to address the challenges in running the plant safely, reliably and efficiently.
Numerous platforms are required to run the digital enterprise more effectively from the mobile devices used up through the analytics platforms running in cloud-based applications. New IoT analytics and applications are moving into the domains of maintenance, engineering, purchasing and corporate-level function. Rather than connected into the control systems as part of plant automation, they are connected to the business systems to help optimize workflows and processes.
Andy stressed that moving toward a digital enterprise is a game-changer. It starts with increasing the intelligence of the machines and production processes. Supply chains can be shortened in sped up, empowered workers can employ productivity-gaining tools such as augmented reality, collaborative communications, and just-in-time analytics to solve problems more efficiently.
The journey toward a digital enterprise is customer centric and demand driven. It seeks opportunities to transform plant & business operations. Throughout the entire value chain, it leverages real-time information and embraces open & secure hardware and software platforms. Finally, it encourages collaboration, both internally within the enterprise, and externally with partners. The key is to foster an innovation-friendly culture.
Andy shared steps along the path including closely monitoring emerging technologies, business models, and current organizational states. Target areas to focus on and identify potential technologies and platforms. As the transition begins, design new business processes with stage-gate project plans, carefully select technology and business partners, manage change, execute, learn and improve.