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What Does a Digital Transformation Look Like on the Shop Floor?

Shaping Your Digital Transformation on the Shop Floor

A digital transformation journey can vary from company to company; find out what it could look like in your own manufacturing environment.

Digital tranformation in manufacturing - Shop Floor Automations

The global digital transformation market isn’t just booming – it’s growing at a steady rate of 20.8% CAGR per year. Because businesses are rapidly implementing these customer-driven growth strategies, it’s critical that you look into automated solutions for your own shop floor.

But what is digital transformation? And why should it be important to your manufacturing organization? Read on to answer these questions with this guide to shop floor digital transformation.

Shop Floor Digital Transformation: The Basics

‘Digital transformation’ is a broad concept that encompasses a “foundational change in how an organization delivers value to its customers,” describes CIO magazine, that includes the folding of new technologies and processes into business operations. The point of this concept is to streamline business in an increasingly digital world by using the technology at our disposal.

Transforming your business into a digital framework doesn’t focus on one singular aspect of the business, such as sales or quality assurance. Rather, it’s a shift in mindset and the overall way that your business functions. By incorporating digital technologies in all areas of your business, you stand to increase overall productivity and efficiency through greater visibility, automation and integration.

“Companies’ adoption of digital technologies has sped up by three to seven years in just months, with companies accelerating efforts for fear of being outflanked by competitors,” says Laura Laberge, McKinsey director of capabilities for digital strategy

What Does Digital Transformation Look Like?

Because digital transformation is a strategic initiative, it’s important to look at some of the specific things that make it successful. Automation is one of the core ways that businesses make this transition.

In the past, data collection and receipt was often a manual process – whether through data entry, handwritten notes and even some EDI setups that require human checkpoints and updates. Shop floor machinery also needed to be manually monitored and tracked. This wasn’t just difficult, but left a lot of room for human error.

Today, the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and other automation technologies have vastly improved the means with which manufacturers can remotely monitor machine utilization and output for significant insights into trends, failure predictions, capacity constraints and more. Advances in user-friendly interfaces and functionality make solutions far easier for operators to adopt and use on a regular basis.

CNC milling tooling - remote machine operation

Today automation technologies have vastly improved the means with which manufacturers can remotely monitor machine utilization and output for significant insights and better decision-making.

Software isn’t the only aspect of a shop floor transformation, however. Hardware can play a key role in increasing the visibility of data collection for uptime improvements, such as through the display of dashboards monitors on the floor, or even increasing program storage and NC program transferring capabilities among older machinery by outfitting them with portable floppy drives.

What Are the Benefits of Digital Transformation?

There are a plethora of benefits of digitally transforming your shop floor. They can include:

  • Increased capacity to meet customer needs and demands
  • Faster and more streamlined machine use
  • Reduction and optimization of time spent operating machinery
  • Greater access to documentation/file organization
  • Fewer opportunities for human error
  • High-level monitoring for all types of machines
  • Remote monitoring capabilities from mobile devices
  • Absorbing new competitive advantage(s) over other manufacturers
  • Faster manufacturing processes to decrease customer wait times
  • Improved overall customer experience to impact retention and business development efforts

Regardless of your desired end result, a well-executed shop floor digital transformation can have a direct impact on revenues, even during times of crisis. McKinsey reports that “organizations that experimented with new digital technologies…and among those that invested more capital expenditures in digital technology than their peers did, executives are twice as likely to report outsize revenue growth than executives at other companies.”

Get Started on Your Digital Transformation Journey

So how do you get started on your own shop floor digital transformation journey? One approach may be to compile gaps in information that are necessary to produce better decision-making across departments. As a preferred manufacturing integrator, Shop Floor Automations has the resources to help you identify and bridge such gaps with the latest available technologies. Contact us to set up your digital transformation consultation today.