Do you know where you are in your smart manufacturing journey?
As business leaders strive to become competitive and resilient, they recognize a need for digital transformation. As such, their interest in smart manufacturing is becoming more prevalent in factories across the globe.
Smart manufacturing refers to the integration of physical and digital processes within manufacturing facilities and across other supply chain functions to optimize supply and demand requirements, both current and future. A smart factory transforms the ways in which people, processes and technology work together to improve quality, efficiency, cost and agility for manufacturers.
The benefits of smart manufacturing are numerous, as it allows manufacturers to:
- Improve productivity and efficiency with increased uptime, shortened time to market, better asset utilization and early fault detection — all while minimizing wastage and energy consumption
- Reduce costs because of improved quality and reliability
- Create automation to accommodate product variation and production runs during the manufacturing process
- Rapidly (re)configure site and office layouts and enhance remote working functionality to meet changing business requirements and user needs
- Deliver agility to efficiently adapt and respond to change, whenever and wherever needed
While manufacturers are increasingly seeing the value of creating smart factories, some are unsure about how to get started. One of the first steps is to understand and assess your smart manufacturing current state and maturity. This will help you identify your business goals and desired outcomes and devise a plan for adopting smart manufacturing.
Understanding and assessing your smart manufacturing maturity
Assessing your maturity across your organization, factories, supply chain and human resources will help you prioritize and focus your efforts on the implementation of your digital transformation. A maturity model can help.
Maturity models give users insight into the current state, best practices and direction for future growth and continuous improvement. Using a maturity model as a foundation for improving practices, performance and processes enables your company to benchmark internal performance to determine where the organization is in its transformational journey. This, in turn, helps you set clear objectives for future investments in performance improvement, as well as catalyze improvement by producing action plans to close performance gaps and improve maturity.
An effective smart manufacturing maturity model/assessment examines four critical areas of your organization and operations:
1. Organization as a whole
A smart manufacturing strategy must begin by securing leadership commitment. Leadership should spearhead new cross-functional initiatives and change management endeavors to seamlessly implement and scale smart manufacturing deployments. This can be accomplished by:
- Fostering alignment among cross-functional teams to establish a deep understanding of the advantages and implications of integrating autonomous operations across the supply chain, warehouse and worker development
- Evaluating internal resources, including staff skill levels and availability, to ensure the successful deployment and management of the transformation initiative
- Leveraging external expertise to integrate various technologies and related change management strategies
- Implementing activities to tightly integrate smart manufacturing technologies into existing processes and systems
- Deploying operational management techniques to ensure transformation works effectively
2. Factory maturity
To unlock efficiency and growth through smart manufacturing, it’s critical to harness the power of AI, machine learning, robotics, analytics and 5G private networks. However, a smart manufacturing strategy is much more than enabling technology — it’s about transforming and digitizing your data, processes, decisions, business models and, ultimately, the roles of your workforce. It also involves understanding challenges, leveraging data insights and securing your digital future. To accelerate factory transformation, spend time:
- Focusing your current and future smart factory initiatives by segmenting those that will enhance core of operations and those that will foster future innovation and process capabilities
- Rallying around operational excellence by emphasizing reductions in variability
- Avoiding isolated technology projects by viewing smart manufacturing as part of an agile system designed to service demand
- Creating a catalog of enabling use cases that can deliver benefit across different production styles and process types
3. Supply chain and warehouse management
Improving supply chain efficiency by automating routine tasks brings several benefits. It boosts productivity by reducing required manual labor and utilizing transport systems, improves quality by reducing errors and damaged parts while ensuring timely delivery, and enhances safety by using autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) to replace conventional equipment and take on risky tasks. To succeed, focus on the following key priorities:
- Addressing critical paths, risks, gaps and areas of immaturity
- Investing in clusters or combinations of technologies
- Assessing value in technologies comprehensively through processes and governance
4. Worker maturity
Leadership plays a crucial role in aligning talent development with business strategy, culture and values — while ensuring frontline workers possess the necessary skills to perform daily tasks. This involves providing clear guidelines on how to utilize operational solutions and ensuring worker safety. Additionally, leadership must set high expectations for future factory workers, focusing on the following:
- Foundational skills, which encompass a deep understanding of the company, its core lean principles, critical thinking and a broader orientation for process
- Digital capabilities such as data literacy, which enables workers to identify, interpret, and utilize data streams to solve problems
- Behavioral competencies, including adaptability, collaboration and receptiveness to learning
- Safety protocols surrounding functional operations and process automation, as well as emergency planning and response procedures
Introducing Ericsson’s Smart Manufacturing Maturity Model and Assessment
Ericsson, in partnership with inCode Consulting, has developed a smart manufacturing maturity model and assessment designed to help manufacturers understand, analyze and benchmark their smart manufacturing maturity and readiness.
The brief, 23-question assessment, generates a detailed report outlining an organization’s smart manufacturing maturity level, compared to others who have completed it. The report also includes recommendations to assist an organization to grow in their smart manufacturing capabilities, maximize return on investments and ultimately deliver business value. So, how’s your smart manufacturing journey coming along?
inCode Consulting, a division of Ericsson, is a global professional services firm providing business strategy and technology consulting to the telecommunications industry. inCode distinguishes itself through a combination of deep technological expertise and exceptional strategic vision. From private equity firms to multibillion-dollar companies, executives and decision makers trust inCode to tackle the unprecedented challenges disrupting today’s increasingly connected world.
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