Articles, IIoT, Industry 4.0, Smart Manufacturing

World Café Report: Digital Manufacturing Transformation by Rockwell Automation

Industry of Things World USA 2018 - World Café Sessions

The third edition of the award-winning Industry of Things World USA was unanimously characterized as a successful conference. The 400+ attendees put the success down to the rich mix of Industrial Internet of Things experts, the presentation content and the interactive sessions throughout the 3 days of the event.
With keynotes about the future of robotics, ranging all the way to how IIoT technologies and smart manufacturing are changing competition and disrupting business models, one thing became clear: the Industrial Internet of Things is here to stay. There is still a need for discussion and planning, but most importantly the need for collaboration across job functions and with different stakeholders to maximize the effectiveness of these technologies and tools, but the possibilities opening up are part of our business reality.

Automation Café

Digital Manufacturing Transformation
Overcoming typical road blocks and realizing the benefits of the Digital Revolution

David Stonehouse leads Rockwell Automation’s Global Consulting Services Team. He has over 20 years of experience as an operations leader and management consultant. His operations experience includes: plant manager, general manager, multi-site management and global supply chain leadership. Prior to entering consulting, he led Kohler’s supply chain operations for the Americas. His consulting experience includes five years with PwC’s Strategy & Operations practice, supporting companies as they transformed their manufacturing and supply chain operations.
David‘s World Café Round Table focused on the below points:

  • Digital transformation is a process leveraging unprecedented levels of data from machines, smart assets and predictive equipment
  • Early IoT investments are driving results: productivity improvements and reduction in operating costs, improved quality and better coordination with customers
  • The broad deployment of digital technology requires rethinking both business and operating models: it changes the way an organization works and can create value
  • Most firms have not yet started their Digital Manufacturing Transformation

Most companies still have not even started their transition to digital transformation.

The main goal of the World Cafe was to investigate the reasons why some large organizations have still not started their digital transformation journey. During the different discussions rounds participants mentioned the problems and talked about solutions and ideas about how to overcome these issues.

What are the main problems within organizations that are causing this?

There are a lot of reasons why companies are still lagging behind and haven’t yet gone digital. Participants mentioned that companies sometimes lack the technical know-how and skills to fully support such a transformation project. The IoT ecosystem and its technologies are developing in an extremely fast pace and companies are often struggling to keep up with all the technological advancements. Not only does the lack of skilled talent also play a critical role at this stage – people need to have a clear understanding of what needs to be done when and how in order to support a successful transformation – but also management is not up-to-date enough to be able to follow along the steps of a transformation project.
During the conversations at the World Cafe it was also brought up that there is a lot of terminology that one needs to be familiar with as well as a lot of new infrastructure. The IoT topic clearly seems to be overwhelming for some organizations and needs a very careful approach – especially during the early stages of a project. In addition, the lack of tech support within an enterprise and certain organizational issues also came up between attendees as reasons that are hindering the IIoT transformation.
Another important issue that came up is the fear of large projects in the business. Companies and most importantly executive management focus on the short-term planning and on quick wins thereby losing the bigger picture. Time is an important issue – such projects require careful planning with multiple pilot tests but the lack of tolerance and the strong focus on costs are not allowing manufacturing processes to develop further. Going digital – especially the transition from a traditional manufacturing enterprise to a connected one – is not a 6-month project but rather something that continuously develops over a timeframe of at least 2 years. Lastly, matching business with technology and identifying the benefits of a projects, i.e. return on investment, can be challenging and slower down the whole process.

David Stonehouse, Global Consulting Leader at Rockwell Automation, in discussion with the World Café participants.

Looking beyond the problems

What can be done to overcome the above mentioned problems and how should companies embrace a successful transformation? An important step is setting up the first stages for the project including a roadmap in which all the technology that is needed to support this transformation will be defined. The roadmaps should also include goals and outlooks for the top management in order to receive greater support for the project.
Participants also shared the view that an executive leadership support is crucial if a company really wants to do a full digital transition. Becoming less short-term sighted and being visionary is an essential part of the process. A better education for the top management is also an important part in order to get a clear understanding and be able to develop trust and be more supportive during a transformation journey. Another idea that was proposed by one of the participants was to organize a program including relevant workshops and bootcamps for the leadership management.
With regards to talent, participants believed that organizations should look into how to grow and train people and also take into consideration their career path. Identifying what needs to be done in-house and what can be outsourced is also important in order to find a balance for a company’s own needs. Furthermore, organizations need to employ the relevant back-end infrastructure to be able to support project of this large scale.

What are the key take-aways from the World Café Round Table?

During all different discussions, the audience supported the opinion that there is no “one size fits all approach.” Each organization has to set its own goals and planning and individually look into the implementation of its transformation projects.
The ideas presented above have to be combined and be taken into account in order to allow for a flawless and successful start into the digital manufacturing transformation. One thing that was became clear throughout the discussion and the exchange between the attendees however is that missing out on the Industrial Internet of Things and its opportunities is not an option – the space is evolving fast and organizations have to be agile and open towards going fully digital.

Input Summary of the Automation Café at Industry of Things World USA