Even before the shock of COVID-19, many manufacturing SME’s were already under cost pressures, which will only intensify further after the crisis. Many corporate executives will react to this with cost-cutting programs, downsizing the workforce, postponing IT projects and reducing departments. However, those who neglect, or even interrupt, the digital change in these uncertain times are falling into an inescapable gutter.
More than ever before, future business models are based on the collection of data. Proof of this is provided today in various industries: from medical technology to the fast-moving consumer goods industry, whose value creating is shifting from product to service. Those who manage to turn digital production, and data collection into an added value for customers will be met with unprecedented opportunities.
But what about the digital maturity of Swiss manufacturing companies? Have they created favourable conditions for digitisation?
Optimal and target-oriented use of existing possibilities.
As a study by Balmer-Etienne AG shows, the need for action in Switzerland is still considerable. Although digitisation and computerisation have largely been implemented, the connectivity of machines, devices, processes, and employees amongst themselves is still largely unrealized.
The main reasons cited are lack of time and expertise, as well as, the lack of willingness to change within the organization. Regulatory requirements and legal uncertainty are additional hurdles. This comes as no surprise though, as these findings had already been confirmed in an earlier study by "Digital Switzerland".
The digital transformation in manufacturing is no longer "Rocket Science" and is now affordable for every company. It does not require a highly complex digitisation strategy to take the first step towards digital transformation. It is now a matter of making optimum and targeted use of the modern opportunities available.
Access operating data in a fraction of hours.
With the right competence and experience, operating data of machines and devices, regardless of make and age, can be accessed in a few hours. The future-oriented Open Platform Communications Unified Architecture (OPC UA) standardises industrial connectivity and ensures interoperability between systems and devices. Modern databases, analysis and visualisation systems, such as the WAPS system of the Irish Smart Factory Ltd. are already pre-configured and are delivered ready for use. Only the installation of sensors is the responsibility of the company electrician.
Data collected from controllers and sensors are sent to a time-series database, where they are used for analysis and real-time visualisation. Instant dashboards provide all key performance indicators such as operating status, downtime and causes, output, performance, OEE, energy consumption and environmental information, etc. in real time. The dashboards are browser-based displays with diagrams and traffic light indicators.
Make smarter decisions, faster.
Interconnected information in real time enables decisions to be made faster and evidence-based. In addition, universally available data can increase overall operational efficiency and also help create new business models. The important thing is that management has a goal in mind, gets stakeholders on board, and takes small steps that can be broken down. With a turnkey IoT solution, digitisation can be driven forward without risk and enter the age of Industry 4.0 faster.