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On your mark.
As the starting gun cracks, athletes streak down the track to clear hurdles in a race to the finish line. Some will clear them all, others will knock over one or two, and one athlete might seem incapable of getting the rhythm, height, and pace correct and crashes into them all.
Like this race, manufacturing companies face key manufacturing challenges in the form of hurdles that must be cleared to remain competitive and succeed in their industry. But increasingly, those who have woven the digital thread into their manufacturing processes will clear the hurdles and win the race.
Likewise, those with disparate legacy systems will knock over a few and stagger across the finish line. At the same time, those with manual processes will crash into them all. In the end, clearing them all fastest determines the winner.
Many execs, managers, and even line operators have become fatigued over years of new software deployments, each promising to make life in manufacturing better. These patchwork and bolt-on solutions often create imperfect systems that lack full integration and interoperability.
Smart manufacturing software addresses this by unifying the solution under a single version of the truth. These systems automate processes and standardize and consolidate data across legacy systems to leverage real-time data so each system component is part of a seamless whole.
To overcome the bias hurdle, pilot programs focusing on solving or eliminating a big problem or headache will trigger confidence. As more manufacturing components are added to the mix, the bias becomes buy-in as team members witness dramatic results with less stress.
Few companies have the depth of resources for their entire manufacturing operation to consist of new machines of the same OEM and model. Because spending likely consists of multiyear or multi-decade projects that overlap, factories usually have multiple OEMs represented on their floor.
Further, even those from the same OEM may be of different models or generations, making connectivity a concern. This difference creates an ecosystem of differing connectivity capabilities.
Clearing the connectivity hurdle to implement a smart manufacturing platform requires a deep dive into the capabilities of all assets. What machines are already connection-ready? Which ones require additional sensors and retrofitting? And what are the costs of bringing each piece of equipment up to speed to provide the data to the smart manufacturing software that yields the best results?
By tasking implementation teams with answering these questions, the connectivity hurdle can be cleared to allow the smart manufacturing software to create a seamless ecosystem that drives your business and manufacturing processes with real-time data and actionable insights.
Today, manufacturing is in crisis mode due to a lack of skilled labor to run its factories. The National Association of Manufacturers predicts that by 2030, as many as 2.1 million manufacturing jobs could be unfilled.
This number is bad news for companies looking to expand their product lines and grow their business. As the shortage continues, it threatens to constrain business and could even result in more product shortages in the middle of this century.
To clear this hurdle, companies must realize the urgency and threat and prioritize smart manufacturing. There will be a significant learning curve to upskill and train workers on the new software. And it will revolutionize how manufacturing companies produce, communicate, and work.
This learning curve is like the athletic training for hurdle racers and is necessary to transition.
However, that training will work in favor of companies who have implemented it and will result in significantly less labor to produce more goods, thus circumventing the labor shortage that constrains others.
Crashing into all the hurdles makes for viral YouTube videos. But it's terrible in terms of business practices. If you're looking to begin your journey with smart manufacturing and clear all the hurdles, There is help.
The new Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer's Guide will provide you with the information you need to make the best choice in software to "train" your company like an athlete to clear all the hurdles and win the race.
The guide covers the industry challenges above in depth. It also explores manufacturing trends, technology forces, strategy, implementation, and deployment for adopting smart manufacturing to your company.
If you're ready to clear your hurdles with speed and agility, read our Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer's Guide here.