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Blog October 17, 2017

Future Directions of Digital Manufacturing

For the last decades, manufacturing industry has been under very tight competition when companies have tried to improve efficiency and decrease costs in order to respond to global competition. Besides cost and efficiency pressures, companies have also faced demand on high quality to secure the precision of their customer delivery. Digitalization of manufacturing has referred to fourth industrial revolution and Industry 4.0, I see there is a good reason for that, since its possibilities are enormous.

Even though digital manufacturing has been at the top of hype for few years, only 5-8 % of the European manufacturing companies can say that they have digitalized their factories, when at the other end 10% have not even started their digital journey. Majority the remaining 80% has done already something but I dare to say that the whole potential of digitalization is unclear for many.

To measure performance manufacturing companies are overall using KPI called OEE, meaning Overall Equipment Efficiency that consist of following indicators: uptime of assets, speed of production and quality of gods produced. Digital manufacturing can improve OEE significantly, since the digital solutions are affecting to each of the indicators. For instance Predictive maintenance can improve uptime of the assets, modern digital business platform connecting production data and asset/ maintenance data together can make totally new insights to how operations work, this together leads often also to higher quality.  

Technology for digital manufacturing solutions already exist. In the market, there are excellent sensors, platforms, analytic solutions and system integrations. In the future, we will have more packaged solutions that simplify and make the implementation more efficient, results can be achieved quicker and Customer will gain the value much faster.  

I want to remind that Digital manufacturing solutions will not come from nothing. Like other business development projects, also digital manufacturing requires investments and commitment from management team. Our customer Outokumpu understood this extremely well showing excellent commitment from management side by making the project as their priority. Results advocate this investment, since Outokumpu managed to improve its manufacturing process efficiency.

Expected ROI for these type of solutions is 6-18 months and the companies investing on it are aiming 12-15% higher efficiency within 2-4 years. The promise of the digital manufacturing is great and I honestly believe that doing it in a right way will meet the expectations can be reached and even outreach.

Mats Eliasson, EVP Business Solutions. Mats have over 30 years of experience in the field of Service and Manufacturing companies i.e. 15 years for ABB.

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