Is there a competitive advantage offered by digitisation in manufacturing? MachineBuilding.net asked Greg Hookings of Stratus Technologies for a view.
History has shown us time and again that companies which adopt emerging technologies gain a competitive advantage over those which do not. The competitive advantage of digitization in manufacturing is a tale almost as old as time. In 1913, Henry Ford was the first to adopt and apply the automated assembly line process (then used by the food industry) to his own factory floor. Doing so shortened his production rate from 12 hours to 2 hours and 30 minutes per vehicle and made Ford a household name.
On the flipside, history also shows us that companies who fail to restructure their processes in order to keep pace with innovation risk their bottom line. A well-known video store resisted change and ultimately found themselves buried by the door-to-door delivery of the DVD, and streaming giants. The company's reluctance to adapt their business model to keep pace with emerging media delivery systems ended with the organisation filing for Chapter 11 with $900 million in debt in 2010.
Today, advances like the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industry 4.0 have brought to the manufacturing world smart machines that are capable of constant, intuitive communication. We are truly on the edge of an industry-wide transformation as the number of these devices continues to rise. Manufacturing organisations which are willing to take the leap and leverage this new, cognitive computing by integrating their Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) systems will become the industry's next success stories. By emulating the flour mills and canning factories whose assembly lines were structured for efficiency and fast production Henry Ford was able to lead the automobile industry. Similarly, manufacturers who adopt the digitisation that has served other industries so well will be the ones that rise to the top in modern manufacturing.
Machine builders might note that our ebook, The Power of On-Machine Intelligence by Stratus Technologies and the International Society of Automation (ISA) states, "Machine builders that incorporate onboard computers which support digitisation will be the preferred suppliers". Those who automate to keep pace with the innovations that the IIoT and Industrial Internet 4.0 is bringing will ultimately be sought after and valued for their efficiency.
Go to www.stratus.com to learn more about the potential offered by digitisation in manufacturing.