The single key to digital transformation in manufacturing is that there is no single key. But as participants in a panel discussion at the 27th annual ARC Advisory Group’s Industry Leadership Forum in Orlando noted Feb. 7, there needs to be commitment at all levels of an organization in order to begin to realize the potential of digital manufacturing.
Leaders from Pfizer, Lockheed Martin, Dow and P&G, all members of the ARC Digital Transformation Top 25 rankings, all discussed the individual journeys their companies undertook in the digital transformation process. From the pandemic efforts to get a Pfizer vaccine out to billions to the continuing upgrades to military aircraft at Lockheed, the essential step in getting on the digital transformation journey is to just get started.
“The idea of making things happens helped push this digital transformation,” said Mike Tomasco, VP of digital manufacturing at Pfizer. He cited five basic tenets at Pfizer for its digital transformation:
- Interconected digital and physical systems
- Real time intelligent data analytics
- Automated processes
- Intelligent control
- Technology-enabled workforce
The workforce engagement at all levels of the digital transformation is crucial. Clark Dressen, an electrical engineer at Dow, said one significant part of the transformation was “getting the IT department talking to the operations department.”
John Dyck, CEO of CESMII, the smart manufacturing consortium, said digital transformation is essential not just for plant improvement, but to maintain America’s global leadership in manufacturing. “The last 10 years about Industry 4.0 has been about creating awareness of where we might go,” Dyck said. “Innovation is not our challenge. The real question is how we can enable that kind of innovation. Unleashing innovation at scale through interoperability is the key.”
The ARC Top 25 in digital transformation leaders come from a variety of industries—while more than half are in life sciences and consumer goods, there are representatives from automotive, aerospace, machinery, mining, chemicals and high tech. ARC analyst Greg Gorbach said despite those diverse backgrounds, the top 25 companies had a number of objectives in common. They include:
- Sustainability needs action now
- Scalability is the next challenge
- Group and prioritize transformation targets to facilitate management
- Empowering the operational front line is critical
- Culture change is necessary
- To succeed, connect and learn from others
Jeff Kent of P&G noted one further area of competency that all successful companies share—quality. Obtaining quality in a digital age requires the same levels of commitment as in other areas of the journey.
“Manual quality assurance has to be converted to a dynamic and digital quality assurance process,” Kent said. “A diaper and a Tesla should have the same quality on each one.”