“For this reason, now can be a very interesting moment for a digital transformation.” These were the concluding words from Theo van Andel (Equinix) in an interesting article on Linkmagazine.nl. In this article, a finger is laid upon the sore spot in the Dutch manufacturing industry: the speed of the digital transformation. However, our experience shows that businesses in the Dutch manufacturing industry are actually able to realize this digital transformation in no-time. By creating a digital foundation of the newest generation cloud-based software. And by starting the digitalization in the pre-production processes. From the first contact with your customer, to the actual sale, work preparation, and engineering.
The numbers presented in the article do not lie. The Netherlands would be far behind the rest of Western Europe. Which would mean that every Dutch manufacturing business, with- or without international aspirations, would be behind the curve. For this reason the Dutch government presents 24 goals in a so-called digitalization strategy.
However, the government’s plans are not concrete enough for an individual business to ‘suddenly’ digitize processes. What will be highly prioritized is reaching and/or maintaining competitive advantages in comparison to other (inter)national players. For where reaching a competitive advantage can be swift, the same goes for losing this very advantage. Competitive advantages must be maintained, by solidifying them in a digital framework.
The main painful areas concerning digital transformation in the article are described below. The question is how manufacturing businesses should tackle these obstacles. And which obstacles should be tackled first.
A number of pain points we run into within many manufacturing businesses are explicitly pointed out in the article:
The technological developments stack up so quickly that something programmed today can be overtaken in a month. Software flexibility mainly exists in its compatibility with other software. And in scalability of the software itself. Software should scale with your business processes. This makes it easier to expand your infrastructure and to add the newest technologies to your processes.
Within a fragmented IT-infrastructure, the internal software is not able to communicate between themselves. As a result, data will start to lead a life of its own. Article prices for example are managed in one place, but have to be used on multiple platforms.
What was the correct BOM belonging to that quotation we brought customer X again last year? What products belong to this BOM? These are questions that should be avoided.
Often manufacturing businesses still use a few basic systems such as ERP and CAD. By linking these with smart applications, you are able to automate all sorts of manual processes. Think automatic follow-up of a quotation after x weeks.
Or, a representative knows in which region of the country hosts a large number of active quotations with a high order value. So that his visits can be planned in a more targeted manner.
The obstacles above can be bridged by creating a strategic digital foundation using best-of-breed cloud-based infrastructure. Best-of-breed, meaning use of cutting edge software for each task package. Resulting in the use of multiple packages. Through a cloud-based infrastructure all these different software packages can be integrated more easily. Cloud-based solutions are able to communicate between themselves in a standardized way. And this is much easier than locally installed systems.
These accessible possibilities for integration should enable more flexibility between different applications. Your ERP package would not only be linked with, for instance, CAD, but also your dashboarding software or quotation generator.
This strategy prevents dependency on one software provider (vendor-lock in). And you will be ready for Industry 4.0 by always exercising the latest technologies.
What is not mentioned in the article is which internal processes should be overhauled first? A replacement for the outdated on-premise ERP package? The use of old-fashioned Data Sheets? We always focus on a business’s pre-production process first. Here, a lot of advantage is easily gained by shortening runtimes. On top of that, flawless input equals flawless output. Resulting in a notable reduction in failure costs and wastage. And erring in the products that distinguish and authenticize your business is something you want to prevent.
‘The digital transformation’ probably sounds like an intensive project to many businesses. A process wherein expansive (digital) strategies, endless meetings, and a lot of time and money have to be dedicated to.
However, from our rapidly growing customer base we notice that our software and philosophy clearly work well for businesses who want to quickly set the first steps towards a digital pre-production process. If you recognize yourself in this, we can set these first steps towards digitalization together.
Would you like to know more about this subject, our software, or Elfsquad? Contact us. Or request an online demo, free of charge.