Enabling Industry 4.0 and Operational Resiliency through Data-Driven Decision Making
Customer and market expectations for more personalized products, deliveries, and services — as well as unanticipated events and sudden demand shocks such as COVID-19 — are driving change and creating opportunities for a company to transform how its operation stays aligned with its markets. Lean and other types of continuous improvement philosophies have been used by operations teams in factories and plants for decades and will always be important in the push for operational excellence. However, being solely focused on cutting costs and improving efficiency is no longer good enough for manufacturers in today’s rapidly changing environment. Forward-thinking manufacturers are beginning to define their future success by how well they react to market disruptions. They are doing so through a process IDC calls resilient decision-making. This process is the combination of ongoing efficiency measures by manufacturers and a new focus on providing employees with near-real-time information, detailed insights on performance, and analytics to improve the decision-making process. To achieve the balance between operational excellence and resiliency while remaining competitive, leading manufacturers are now focused on becoming more connected. Looking at the top priorities for organizations through 2021, it is clear that manufacturers realize the link between data and resiliency (Figure 1).
Figure 1: Top Organizational Priorities through 2020/2021
Source: IDC COVID-19 IT Spending Impact Survey Wave 11, September 2020
Asset management is a core aspect of connected factory operations and transforming this process through remote monitoring, control, and predictive analytics can serve as the foundation for operational resiliency. Traditional preventative maintenance processes are slow and generally ineffective, but strategic asset management will put an emphasis on condition-based monitoring and predictive analytics to raise the availability and efficiency of critical factory assets. Asset management has always been a priority for manufacturers, however, the roadblock most organizations encounter is the aging infrastructure and siloed systems that are being relied upon. It is important to build an asset management road map that includes the broader infrastructure upgrades needed to support Industry 4.0 and operational resiliency. The disruption caused by COVID-19 has had a lasting impact across the world, especially in terms to investments, with the majority of organizations decreasing or putting holds on spending. However, for manufacturing, there are key technologies where investment has accelerated in 2020 (Table 1).
Table 1: COVID-19 Highlighted the Need for Immediate Investments in Data and Digitization
Source: COVID-19 IMPACT ON IT SPENDING Survey (Wave 7) IDC, July 2020
Connecting business processes to eliminate siloed data and apply analytics to newly expanded and contextualized data removes bottlenecks and empowers workers to make rapid and confident decisions. The core technology strategy for manufacturers involves using IoT to connect products and processes, cloud to provide accessibility and share siloed information, edge computing to enable real-time decision-making, and AI to drive autonomous operations. Also, with this increased focus on data and connectivity it is also important not to forget about security, which must be factored in every step of the way.
The manufacturing environment is changing faster than ever before. It is clear that data-driven decision making will be critical to enabling Industry 4.0 and operational resiliency. While all the technologies highlighted are important for manufacturers to consider, edge computing plays an important role in a connectivity strategy. Edge computing is an effective way to decrease the amount of data traffic that must be sent across the network to a centralized location. Because of this, IDC recently surveyed over 125 edge computing decision makers to capture the state of edge initiatives within manufacturing, with a focus on where edge is being utilized, the benefits, who funds and makes decisions, and best practices. While many manufacturers are well underway on their edge initiatives, for those who have not started it is not too late.
For more information, please download the IDC Edge Computing Infographic, where more results from the manufacturing edge survey are highlighted.
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