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Jump Start Your Connected Factory: Recap of the Recent #CiscoChat

Connected_Factory_Chat

Manufacturers are challenged with how to start digitizing their factories. Many have told me it is not inertia or budget holding them back, but being overwhelmed or unsure of where to start. Yet the value that awaits them is great – connected factories can boost profits by up to 19 percent (according to our latest Manufacturing Thought Leadership Study).

To help manufacturers navigate the complexity, I hosted a #CiscoChat with Brandon Lackey, Manufacturing Vertical Business Development Manager at Cisco, and Lorenzo Veronesi, Analyst at IDC. We discussed the benefits of a connected factory, the roadblocks manufacturers face, and how to take the first step. Many industry thought leaders and luminaries joined us and it made for an animated discussion.

If you missed the chat, the full recap is here, and I will share with you a few of the highlights:

We kicked off the chat by asking: How are manufacturers making factories more connected and intelligent?

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#CiscoChat: Jump Start Your Connected Factory

CHat_connected_factory_LINKEDIN

A new year- and time for new initiatives and a chance to fast start your competitiveness as a manufacturer. According to our recent Manufacturing Thought Leadership Study, digital manufacturers who have connected their factories and production facilities are driving up to 19% more profits (over 10 years) than their ‘unconnected’ counterparts.

What are some of the issues holding manufacturers back from undertaking networking and automation, wireless or security initiatives in their factories? Many have told me it is not inertia or budget, but sometimes being overwhelmed and unsure of where to start. In today’s typical factory , there are so many “things” to connect (including machines, robots, sensors and more) as well as processes to allow manufacturers to reap benefits and address challenges that more traditional models and operating practices were not able to do. The challenge is identifying and prioritizing what area to tackle first.

We all know that major gains in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), reduced downtime, and manufacturing flexibility can be achieved with a factory that is digitized and connected. By providing visibility to machines and processes, Read More »

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Analytics: Building a Winning Strategy in Manufacturing

Machinery, supply chains, and raw materials have always been core concerns in manufacturing. Today, another asset is just as critical — data.

General Electric Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Immelt said it well: “The industrial world is changing dramatically, and those companies that make the best use of data will be the most successful.”

I certainly agree. If manufacturers want to gain the agility, innovation, and hyper-awareness needed to compete and win, they must start thinking like technology companies. That means leveraging data — and the real-time insights derived through analytics — in impactful new ways.

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The Digital Manufacturing Landscape and the Path Forward.

Any discussion on digital transformation and IoT leads to the fundamental question – “What are the possibilities and impacts in my industry?” The manufacturing industry has been dealing with this question for the last 50 years and in fact, has been an early adopter of technology to enable transformation.   For example,  in the mid-to-late 20th-century, automated inventory control systems (ICS),  material resource planning systems (MRP), and  enterprise resource planning systems (ERP) had a tremendous impact on the foundational operations within manufacturing across the world.  Then in the later part of the 20th-century and the early part of 21st-century transformations within this industry were enabled by the emergence of the PC, explosion of the internet, realization of e-business, availability of IP-based technologies, universal  adoption of RFID and proliferation of wireless components.  All of these innovations marked the first era of digital manufacturing.  This era had a primary focus on using technology to achieve efficiencies, effectiveness and productivity gains particularly within the supply chain, and product lifecycle management functions.

Digital Manufacturing

Today pioneering and prominent manufacturers are looking at the next generation of digital manufacturing which will utilize technology to enable new customer experiences that enhance profitable revenue growth. The German government is credited with calling this next era Industry 4.0. They characterize this era as a time when “people, machines, and industrial processes are intelligently networked.”

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As Manufacturers Go Digital, Customer Value Expands

Every single day, I’m reminded that a digital revolution is taking place—from researching local coffee places on the dashboard of my car to ordering coffee on my mobile device—it’s clear that our lives are becoming more digitized. This is also apparent for the businesses and industries that manufacture the goods that we use everyday. In order to compete today, manufacturers must respond to complex and constantly changing demands from their customers. That requires the agility, rapid innovation, and fast execution that only digital manufacturing can deliver. Too many manufacturers, however, still lack these critical capabilities and suffer from fragmented and siloed organizational structures.

This was reinforced by new research from Cisco on the current and future state of digital disruption in manufacturing. The study included economic analysis, interviews with manufacturing industry thought leaders, and a survey of more than 600 senior leaders from 13 countries, representing both industrial machine builders and end-user manufacturers.

Our research confirmed that manufacturers get it. They understand that a digital revolution is taking place, and they want to be part of it. Seventy-nine percent believe that digital disruption will drive a moderate to major impact at their companies in the next three years. Moreover, they see digital technologies such as cloud, IoT, and analytics as having the biggest impact on their production — not more manufacturing-centric technologies such as robotics and 3D printing.

However, in terms of driving new value, many are faltering. Their service strategies, for example, are seen as a key opportunity for new revenue, but they are not driving expected levels of growth.

Digital business transformation is the solution, but it can’t be done in a piecemeal fashion; it must be implemented across the entire organization and beyond, throughout the ecosystem. Analytics, cloud, machine-to-machine connections, and collaboration tools all enable new opportunities for sharing data insights. Getting those insights to the people (or machines) who need them most, on the other hand, can be challenging. In this context, silos — between IT and operational technology (OT), engineering and design, and so forth — are the enemy to progress.

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