Let’s face it: digitalization is now everywhere. Everything will be digitalized, whether you want it, believe it, expect it, or not. Even in manufacturing. Our beliefs or previous experiences from the past do not count, at all.
Digitalization as a term is pretty tricky; it is not easily definable, and thus can be categorized as a generic meaningless buzzword. It’s easier to give examples: Typically to a bystander it is a reminiscent of the transformation of music industry from delivering pressed plastic discs first to iTunes and iPod and then eventually to Spotify and similar streaming services where music is distributed and consumed in a digital format, without any media like LP’s or CD’s. Some may even relate the latest well known election results to digitalization, since those were claimed to be affected by big data analytics and psychometrics, based on findings in data from digital social media services like Facebook.
Actually one of the most interesting and relevant digitalization trends related to manufacturing really is Dematerialization, which states that due to the digitalization things that were physical in the past will dematerialize basically into a software product or a service, or to a simpler structure, with potentially more complex individual parts though. This of course is already happening all the time, like the music example above, or through the fact that metal keys are turning first into plastic, and then applications on our mobile devices. Furthermore, think about car industry and electrical drives which are much simpler to manufacture and consist of much fewer parts than an internal combustion engine. When the battery technology evolves more and the electric cars become common that’ll not be the only drastic change. Here the main point is that the physical media which has had to be manufactured in a way or another is disappearing or changing, which naturally has direct implications to manufacturing. The things to be manufactured either do not exist anymore, or require different tools and methods.
Manufacturing industry is on the other hand in the forefront of technological development, naturally in for example utilizing robotization in general, or applying new materials and production methods. On the other hand it is very traditional and resistant to changes the ethos being not to touch anything that works, because it might affect the production output in a negative way. Now however, dematerialization through digitalization actually has a direct effect to manufacturing and forces it to adapt new thinking. And it’s not only about the dematerialization, but it is also about the speed in which new products and services are being introduced. End customers are in a way coming closer and having direct effect to the workshop floor.
For being able to play this game with the required speed and flexibility you need to have a right kind of player which is in the center of factory operations and has interfaces towards both ERP/MES and the automation/robotics of machine and other manufacturing tools. Fastems, the world leader in flexible manufacturing systems, as an example, is such a company, being in the center of digitalization in the manufacturing industry. We provide innovative solutions to all the needs of the industry, by for example utilizing big data, and real time data analytics in completely new type of product service systems that help our customers to excel in their operations. Already two thirds of the engineering work we do is related to software and digitalization, and the number is growing rapidly. The digital customer value will be created with software and services, backed up with solid hardware solutions, by using completely new business models.
Come and meet us in MPD 2017 – event to hear more!
Let’s get it done, together.
Chief Digital Officer @ Fastems