Manufacturing digitisation bolsters flexibility – Part 1

Manufacturers are experiencing interesting times as the pandemic has affected workforce availability and consumer demand. Moreover, with a shortage of skilled staff and increased material and energy costs, they need to adapt to survive. Enterprises are rethinking how manufacturing digitisation and smart machines can help address these challenges without excessive costs or larger workforces.

To address these challenges, OEMs and users should consider how they apply digitisation technologies to a less predictable “new normal.” The OEMs because they design, commission, and support the machines for digitised industrial operations, and the end-users who need these machines for their future production.

Manufacturing digitisation benefits the entire smart machine life cycle

Establishing a solid infrastructure of more efficient, flexible, and agile machines implies integrating machines that are more digital. According to Schneider Electric, the cumulative effect is to unlock new business potential and higher efficiency improvements.

The three phases of machine life cycles where digitising operations often result in efficiency gains and a faster ROI are:

Machine design – In the design and engineering phase, automated engineering and simulation tools are reducing time-to-market by up to 30%.

Commissioning and operation – During these phases, OEM integration, commissioning and operational support efficiency can improve by up to 40%.

Maintenance and service – In this phase, efficiency and agility are delivered through connected machines that enable remote access, predictive maintenance, and remote monitoring in a cyber-secure environment. Such digitised support tools can reduce the time for corrective actions by up to 50%.

A digital approach to machine building and operations involves better connectivity, increased mobility, access to inexpensive cloud computing, and analytics.

Manufacturing digitisation benefits include resource optimisation and the ability to make smart decisions faster, while also improving serviceability to reduce downtime.

To succeed in this new world, both OEMs and end-users will need to develop new sets of skills. These skills should centre on enabling higher operational agility and leveraging real-time demand intelligence to improve process visibility. The benefits of digitisation include faster cycle times, higher efficiency, lower cost, and better decision support for a machine’s lifecycle.

EcoStruxure Machine Advisor digital platform works to minimise manufacturer line changeover times and to simplify OEM machine life cycle management. For a helpful case study on how one manufacturer put manufacturing digitisation into practice, see Part II of this article.