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How Smarter Manufacturing Makes You the Envy of the Neighborhood

Smart Manufacturing, Digital Transformation
July 6, 2023

It’s hard enough keeping up with new products or system upgrades offered by the OEMs that built the equipment for your manufacturing operation. Staying current on software updates, new and more efficient electronics, and retrofits to add new functionality is difficult for even the most experienced managers and maintenance teams.

But that pressure grows when you add the stress of keeping up with your manufacturing “neighbors” to remain competitive. While they are facing the same challenges, there’s always a chance that they will find a path that moves them far ahead of you in efficiency gains, cost reduction, and process optimization.

Your neighbors may look to you to set the pace if you are a leader in your industry. Or, they may exploit a weakness and take advantage of smart manufacturing adoption to leverage powerful new trends in manufacturing that will move them past you.

To stay ahead in the race, study these trends from the Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer’s Guide.

The Digitization of Manufacturing

Smart manufacturing adoption requires the digitization of manufacturing. And as the benefits become more well known, it is no longer a question of “if” manufacturers will adopt them. Instead, it is a question of “when.” Companies will either adopt early to lead the competition, adopt late and play catch up, or fail to adopt and fade away.

Digital manufacturing represents a complete shift in business processes within a manufacturing enterprise. These trends include:

  • Product Design – With digital tools, product designers can iterate quickly using advanced technology such as 3D CAD or digital twins. Products can be designed with quality and performance in mind and automatically added to production BOMs, routings, and work instructions.
  • Manufacturing – Smart manufacturing leverages digitization to provide real-time data and analytics for production KPIs, operator and equipment performance, utilization, and maintenance. With advanced production monitoring, many problems can be addressed before they manifest.
  • Service – Digitization enables powerful extensibility for process improvement. Tracking the lifecycle and performance through sensors and IoT technology allows companies to improve production processes based on performance in the field.

Connected Workers

Traditionally, operators had to be taught to look for all machine issues themselves. This training often required intuition and “feel.” Smart manufacturing empowers workers through complete visibility of what is happening now.

Real-time data and advanced analytics can deliver customized KPIs and dashboards so operators can make decisions and act quickly. And smart manufacturing also enables many processes to be fully automated so that mitigation, alerts, or shutdowns happen automatically as off-spec conditions are detected.

The ability to respond more quickly extends the power of real-time data, and it also improves productivity and optimizes labor utilization.

ESG and Sustainability

Today’s manufacturing environments are becoming more aware of Environment, Social, and Governance (ESG) issues and the need to manufacture products sustainably. This push is being led by vigorous regulatory and compliance tightening by governments at the local and national levels.

Smart manufacturing adoption helps companies align with these regulations by automating monitoring, measurement, and documentation of ESG and compliance and sustainability requirements. As these regulations increase, manual tracking and updating may soon be dangerous, if not impossible, and smart manufacturing automates these processes to protect company liability while promoting ESG and sustainability.

Keep Up with the Neighbors

These are only a few factors decisionmakers must consider as they build strategies for transforming their organizations to stay ahead of manufacturing “neighbors” and be the envy of the neighborhood. As you seek to digitize your operations, connect your workforce, double down on sustainability, and kick off other key initiatives, you’ll need to have the right technology at your fingertips.

Ensure you make the right decision for your company by downloading the Smart Manufacturing Software Buyer’s Guide here.

About the Author

Plex Team

Plex Systems, Inc., a Rockwell Automation company, is the leader in cloud-delivered smart manufacturing solutions, empowering the world’s manufacturers to make awesome products. Our platform gives manufacturers the ability to connect, automate, track and analyze every aspect of their business to drive transformation. The Plex Smart Manufacturing Platform includes solutions for manufacturing execution (MES), ERP, quality, supply chain planning and management, Industrial IoT and analytics to connect people, systems, machines, and supply chains, enabling them to lead with precision, efficiency and agility.