Expert Insight

Expert Insight: Understanding The Digital Operating Model In Manufacturing

Roland Kümin
November 16, 2022

The most common mistake that manufacturers make these days?

Taking a scattergun approach to digitalization and smart manufacturing.

Most manufacturers know that they need to implement digital solutions to stay competitive in the modern world. But it can be a costly mistake to apply Industry 4.0 tools haphazardly in a rush to be ‘cutting-edge’.

You need to have a good understanding of the digital operating model and how it fits in with the wider manufacturing process, especially the supply chain and production processes.

Masood Hassan is an expert in the field of digital operations. As part of our consultancy team, Masood will guide the digital strategy and implementation for companies looking to benefit from smart manufacturing technology.

We recently interviewed Masood to pick his brains on how manufacturing businesses can successfully integrate smart technology into their day-to-day operations.

Optimizing business operations and processes

With over 30 years of global consulting experience in operations, supply chain management, product development, and business growth, Masood has plenty of expert insight. He has helped companies and startups to successfully implement digital strategies in industries as diverse as retail, energy, chemical processing, aerospace, oil and gas, and industrial manufacturing.

Masood focuses on simultaneously simplifying and optimizing manufacturing operations through the identification of key value areas, the implementation of digital technology, and the creation of strategies to shift behavior and encourage buy-in across all operational levels.

How to gain a strategic advantage with smart manufacturing

When it comes to creating a strategic advantage, Masood recommends taking a wider view. Rather than simply tackling individual operational inefficiencies, manufacturers need to devise an end-to-end plan and implement it carefully.

Being lean and agile is not enough, at least in the traditional sense of the words.

In fact, Masood goes as far as saying that we need to create a new definition of lean manufacturing for the era of smart technology. A ‘lean refresh’ that moves us on from the six sigma days.

Traditional lean concepts still hold true from a purely operational point of view, but they are highly people oriented.

Masood and O3 embrace a refreshed version of lean, which encompasses the technical advances made since the dawn of Industry 4.0.

The smart lean philosophy follows these principles:

  • Start with the end in mind – Make sure your strategy is highly focused on results. What do you want to achieve? Faster production? More agility? Smoother supply chains? Deeper market understanding? Reduced operational costs? All of these things can be achieved with the implementation of digital technology, but it needs to be a joined-up strategy that considers people, equipment, and technology.
  • It’s not just about the technology – A recent McKinsey report revealed that 60% of digital initiatives fail. Indeed, throughout his career Masood has worked on more ERP re-implementations than anything else, due to failed adoption. To increase the chances of success, manufacturing companies need a clear operational plan, as well as education and buy-in strategies to get people on board. Also, it helps to have an expert team who can give you the guidance and technology implementation you need to gain a strategic advantage.
  • Grow in digital maturity – A common mistake that businesses make is doing too much, too soon. Implementing digital solutions is a bit like completing a jigsaw puzzle. You can’t just put pieces together randomly and hope for the best. Digital maturity needs to be built over time and gradually. In other words you become more agile, by first taking things slowly. The O3 smart manufacturing platform supports this philosophy with our modular approach – we can add the tools and solutions for you as and when you’re ready for them.

Work backwards to gain forward momentum

How can manufacturers gain a strategic advantage these days?

Masood is clear that the best way to do this is to work backwards, “Most companies still think from the machine outwards. A better approach is to think from the results back to the machine, and consider everything in-between”.

He goes on to say that the following questions can help to specify the intended results:

  • What is the market requirement?
  • How can you compete in a rapid-growth disruptive marketplace?
  • What value do you want to add to your product, processes, or services?

Once you have a good idea of the results you want, then work back to the machine.

Rapidly achieve digital maturity

Here at O3 smart manufacturing, we have designed a fast-track assessment to identify your current digital maturity level and help you on your journey. We can implement solutions to take manufacturing companies from the pre-digital level right the way through to autonomous manufacturing.

If you would like to find out how O3 can help your business to achieve advanced connectivity, implement digital solutions, and become an advanced smart factory, then get in touch today.

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