Digitization in manufacturing companies
What do a car part manufacturer, a maker of railway vehicles, and a company that produces protective equipment for militaries throughout Europe and the world have in common?
They are hindered by ERP systems that prevent them from developing rapidly enough and adapting their processes to the unstoppable force that is digitalization. All three face the same challenge of raising their workers’ awareness of the need for innovation while providing them with intuitive IT solutions adapted to their circumstances.
These and other conclusions sprang from a discussion that was held during a conference organized by Novacura Poland — a provider of comprehensive mobile process tools that work in conjunction with pre-existing ERP, CRM, or EAM solutions.
The panellists — Bartosz Blaszke from SumiRiko Poland, Jarosław Zakrzewski from PESA Bydgoszcz, Piotr Piechota from Rockfin, and Aretta Świderska from NFM Production — discussed the topic ”Digitization: What it is and who needs it”. Artur Buła, Managing Director at Novacura Poland, introduced the topic by making reference to a study commissioned by Siemens and conducted by Millward Brown, entitled ”Smart Industry Poland 2016”.
‘The findings of these studies show that the need for digitization in Polish manufacturing businesses is great: 90 per cent of companies are undergoing this transformation, and as many as 95 percent have budgeted for projects involving digitization,’ said Artur Buła.
Novacura Flow enables businesses to rise to the challenges posed by digitization and to do so much more quickly and painlessly than might otherwise be possible. The solution is flexible and compatible with ERP (such as IFS Applications, M3, SAP). A unique added layer overlying the systems that are already in place, it makes them more intuitive and capable of meeting business targets quickly (and while on the move); and it does so for a diverse range of companies, including a manufacturer of railway vehicles.
”Digitization is a natural process that is imposed by the growing requirements of our customers. They want to be involved in the assessment of their product at every stage of its life,” said Jarosław Zakrzewski from PESA Bydgoszcz. ”For us, digitization is the ideas of Industry 4.0 coming to fruition. The emphasis here is on being able to track and visualize the entire planning and production process, as well as generating pitch-perfect task reports so that key information gets fed into the databases (for later BI analysis). All of this is aimed at achieving maximal optimization of the process and being able to react quickly to any changes. We are also keen for our logistics to be as efficient as possible, which means tracking the production preparation process every step of the way,” adds Jarosław Zakrzewski.
The panellists stressed that one of the key aspects of digitization and a suitably matched IT system is that the people responsible for strategy at companies need to receive up-to-date information about the condition their business is currently in when they have to make an important decision. There is also a clear and growing need for good tools to simulate and appraise planned changes in how a company operates.
”Digitization is about saving time and about the smooth flow of information that is connected to this,’ says Aretta Świderska from NFM Production. ‘All of the various elements that make it up, both in external and internal flows, allow operations to be streamlined, processes to be accelerated, and — most importantly — mistakes to be avoided.”
There was no shortage of discussion concerning the hurdles involved. What are the greatest barriers keeping information technology from helping companies?
”Most often, the problem turns out to be the human factor and organization. Digitization triggers resistance from workers. Another barrier is administration and getting a handle on the data or, more precisely, extracting from them what is important and relevant for the business in question,” said Bartosz Blaszke from SumiRiko Poland.
Aretta Świderska from NFM Production concurred. She also drew attention to people’s reluctance to change and make processes more transparent. Moreover, she added that the key to solving this problem is to give people appropriate training and make them aware of what is required, so that they understand that this is for them and to make their work easier. She also emphasized that for new IT systems to be successfully implemented, management must be convinced about the merits of digitization.
The conclusions drawn by the specialists invited to the Novacura Poland conference are clear. We cannot fight the inevitable. A new generation is emerging and it demands digitization from companies. So the time to begin thinking about IT transformation is right now — this process cannot be carried out effectively and comprehensively in a year. To help make it happen, there is a role to be played by intelligent and flexible IT systems which integrate seamlessly with ERP platforms already in place, making processes more intuitive and allowing users to respond to the dynamically evolving business reality — all at the push of a button.
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