Technology, Processes & People Crucial for Digital Transformation

March 14, 2023
In the second video of this series, Jose Rivera and Machine Design discuss how companies can use system integrators to boost their digital transformation strategies.

The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity.

See Chapter 1 here

See Chapter 3 here

Bob Vavra: And that goes to something that that we've seen in the in the market in the last year or so and it's really starting to gain some momentum. It's this systematic approach that suppliers have to digital transformation. Siemens has launched its Xcelerator program, Bosch Rexroth has ctrlX Automation, Rockwell has FactoryTalk. There are other programs that I know that are in development. So these are integrated solutions. So how do these solutions impact the system integrator?

Jose Rivera: Digital transformation is something that helps our companies become more competitive, our economy be more resilient. The more support and drive we have for this initiative, the better, the better it is for everybody, for the whole ecosystem. It's like a win-win-win situation. These more expansive platforms from the different suppliers help because they're integrated and they have one approach of integrating all these different aspects.

I must stress that it's not just about technology. There is a huge component about processes and another one about people. It's not just putting like the newest technology, and here we go. It requires a lot of retraining of people, like having them leverage data that they will be gathering to make better decisions, a rethinking of processes in better ways.

These tools hopefully can help simplify the process and make you view the whole picture, not just like the mechanical and like the electrical and control part, it's beyond the technology part. Processes and people are very important.

BV: Those last two are really crucial because we're really looking at a different kind of worker in a broad sense for manufacturing going forward. It used to be a very stereotypical and a very manual process, and it's getting less and less manual and more and more intuitive and instinctive and, to a certain extent, reactive to the to the data and to the information that you're getting. So, we're looking for a different workforce today, too.

JR: Yes. What I also think is happening is that the workforce will be hopefully more engaged because it will be in smaller batches, much more customization, so much more variety in their work. And in addition to the people that will be working on production, you will also have workers that will be working on the machines that lay out the changing of the productions.

This is something that maybe in the past it was set-and-forget; now there will be a lot of adjustments just because, for example, fashion dictates that as opposed to having this type of a packaging, you have this other package, you know. And so that means changing production lines, updating modifying machines, reprograming machines.

The workforce that will be doing those type of and regular updates to setups. 

 And let me also say one thing: We started this conversation about this reshoring or nearshoring, and we said that these are going to be modern plans because they need to integrate all the technology to make them competitive. I think these are great opportunities for these plants, not just to be about new technology, but also about new ways of engaging and having the workers interface and engaged in the production. I think these are great opportunities and for the U.S. and North American manufacturing base.

BV: One of the things in this area we see a lot is the silos coming down in manufacturing, the design team and the operations team and the maintenance team were very distinct and straight, straight line kind of groups today. It's essential to have them all integrated from the start, so that they're all working in concert with all this data to take the highest and greatest value of the data to optimize the plant's operation.

JR: All of this reminds me of all the work that was done around quality started by the Japanese companies. It was not just about, “I passed my problem over to the next part of the of the assembly line.” We stopped the line. We all come together and we fix it.

It's that was [an] earth-shattering ability of the Euro plants to be able to pull the cord and stop the whole production line. That was like a no-no before then. But they had that new approach...one that really required worker engagement to solve the problem and continue to deliver on their quality commitments. 

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