How To Accelerate Your Production Cycle With Digital

Roland Kümin
September 23, 2022

Most manufacturers are aware that digital transformation is crucial to success in our modern digital age.

But it isn’t always obvious where to focus your efforts in order to get the best results.

The main goals of any digital solution that you apply in the manufacturing industry should be to increase productivity, boost efficiency, and reduce cost and waste.

In this article, we’re going to look at digital solutions that tick all those boxes by speeding up the production cycle.

Defining the production cycle

Before we dive into exploring some of the digital technology that’s out there for manufacturers to choose from, it’s important to understand what we mean by the production cycle.

A typical manufacturing production cycle looks something like this:

  • Product design  
  • Bill of materials  
  • Sales forecasting  
  • Manufacture goods  
  • Quality management
  • Maintenance
  • Sales and marketing

Production cycle challenges

Challenges exist for manufacturers across the entire production cycle, but we’re going to focus on the ones that provide competitiveness gains and lead to success in the global marketplace.

  • Sales Forecasting – To hold your own in a competitive market, it’s important to ensure that you forecast demand as accurately as possible. Supply chain issues should be monitored carefully to make sure that enough materials can be sourced to meet demand.
  • Regulatory Compliance – Depending on the industry, you may need to comply with strict regulations. Even in industries that are less heavily regulated, there are government-mandated environmental controls that must be followed. Meeting regulatory obligations depends on the application of controls and checks at the design stage, production stage, and during post-production quality assurance.
  • Eliminating Waste and Reducing Environmental Impact – In order to meet regulatory compliance, enhance brand reputation, and meet customer expectations, manufacturers need to put environmental sustainability near the top of their priority list. More efficient production methods and processes can help to achieve environmental goals.
  • Predictive Maintenance – Effective maintenance of manufacturing equipment can reduce machine downtime and cut overheads. Monitoring and analyzing the condition of equipment using digital technology will increase both efficiency and productivity.

Benefits of applying digital solutions across the production cycle

Digital transformation is the secret to success in modern manufacturing. In order to create a smart factory that is up to speed with Industry 4.0 technology, manufacturers need to implement profitable digital solutions.

McKinsey recently published a breakdown of the value potential of applying Industry 4.0 digital solutions to different parts of the production cycle. The report revealed that the application of digital solutions can:

  • improve forecasting accuracy by 85%
  • reduce unnecessary inventory holding by 15 to 20%
  • reduce machine downtime by 30 to 50%
  • increase productivity by 15 to 30%
  • improve quality by 10 to 20%
  • and increase throughput by 10 to 30%.

As you can see, digital solutions provide efficiency and productivity gains across the value chain. It is clear that manufacturers cannot afford to neglect digital transformation.

Examples of digital solutions to accelerate the production cycle

Speeding up the production cycle relies on identifying and reducing inefficiencies at different stages of the manufacturing process.

  • Analytical tools are a highly effective way to reduce inefficiencies. For example, a car manufacturer may analyze data from their production line and identify a bottleneck that is slowing down output. Using the insights generated from analysis, the manufacturer can take the necessary steps to streamline that section of the assembly line and reduce inefficiency.
  • KPI analysis can be automated through the implementation of digital tools. IIoT sensors can collect all the necessary data from the production line and financial data can be imported from the ERP system. Performance can then be aligned to simultaneously maximize throughput and minimize costs. Quality assurance is a particularly important part of the value chain that can be improved by KPI automation.
  • Preventive maintenance systems can be applied that collect data from sensors and feed it into specialist analysis software. The software will highlight potential machine and component failure before they occur. This allows plant managers to initiate maintenance work or set up autonomous maintenance programs (training operators to carry out basic preventive maintenance tasks). Preventive maintenance systems can reduce or even eliminate machine downtime and increase the efficiency of maintenance labor allocation.

Summary – Accelerating production with digital tools

Digital solutions can bring about productivity and efficiency benefits across the value chain. Manufacturing companies are well advised to invest in digital tools that are focused on the automation and streamlining of production activities and workflows.

The O3 Smart Manufacturing Platform is a modular solution and, thanks to integrated benchmarks and metrics, also knowledge-based and self-learning in the sense of lean manufacturing and operational excellence.

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