Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robots, 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT)...there’s a whole world of advanced manufacturing technology and innovation just waiting for manufacturers who want to step up their digital game. Unfortunately, manufacturing digitization can present some fundamental challenges.
So how do manufacturers increase their smart factory capabilities while balancing the associated risks? Let’s dive into some of the top challenges for manufacturers when it comes to implementing advanced manufacturing technology applications.
One of the biggest manufacturing digitization challenges is the lack of relevant knowledge to implement advanced manufacturing technologies in the proper manner. But overcoming this learning curve may be as simple as reaching out to external consultants experienced in providing guidance and resources to manufacturers.
Enlisting outside expertise for any kind of technology implementation can help an organization leverage knowledge, skills, and abilities they wouldn’t be able to access otherwise. At MCA Connect our manufacturing experts take pride in consistently delivering innovative solutions and guiding manufacturing companies to the best one for their company. Outside experts can provide immediate implementation guidance and training to help organizations take advantage of innovations such as the following:
- AI / machine learning
- Advanced data analytics
- Augmented / virtual reality
- Cloud computing
- Sensors / IoT
Technology changes at a much faster pace than traditional manufacturing equipment, often with an expected lifespan of less than 10 years. The older a technology infrastructure is, the more difficult it is to make it compatible with a digitized manufacturing environment and the more expensive it becomes to maintain.
In a fully realized digitized environment, appropriate data can be shared between a variety of systems. However, if business platforms and technologies are over five years old, they may not be able to read, write, or share data as needed.
Updating technology can be extremely challenging since numerous interdependencies must be considered. A carefully tested, phased, or piloted implementation approach can be used to upgrade systems without impacting the production line. Leveraging a more modular approach to technology, such as by using standard application programing interfaces (APIs), can reduce these concerns for future innovation implementation.
One of the most common manufacturing digitization challenges is humans. Human errors represent one of the most common risks facing all organizations, including safety, quality, and cybersecurity risks. For example, humans can:
- Configure machines incorrectly or insecurely;
- Forward unprotected business sensitive information to outside parties for quoting;
- Mishandle equipment
Digitizing manufacturing may require new processes and re-training on equipment. Unfortunately, humans are especially resistant to change. Where possible, change shouldn’t be imposed. Rather, it should instead be the outcome of a continuous discovery phase that empowers employees to test current processes and identify room for improvement. A Change Management plan and implementation can help with lack of user adoption.
The discovery process requires engagement at all levels of the business. It should begin with the company’s president or leader and then continue through key multi-departmental staff, including decision makers at every level of the organization.
Each of these manufacturing digitization challenges can be addressed with an implementation plan that works with current processes, while enabling future growth opportunities to stay competitive. Fortunately, there are resources for manufactures to take that first step towards advanced manufacturing technology integration. Contact us to talk about how your company can get started with a digital transformation and how to overcome your challenges.