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MANUFACTURING & ENGINEERING

In Manufacturing and Construction, the race to adopt Industry 4.0 principles will decide the winners and losers in a battle to remain meaningful and thrive in a digitized economy. The Smart Factory and Smart Building may be the goal, but technology adoption is essential from design, through execution and into the life of products or facilities being created.

The founding principles of Industry 4.0 to promote the digitisation of industrial operations is presenting fantastic opportunities in both sectors, but this is tempered by financial constraint and other practical implications creating a precarious minefield for IT Leadership. 

IoT

IoT has rapidly evolved from an interesting notion about intelligent fridges to a pervasive source of Big Data critical to product development and production cost reduction.

Whilst IoT has its highest profile from its impact in a domestic setting to control and protect our home environments, the ability deploy small intelligent sensors provides insight and control right through the production or construction process. The potential gains in reduced working capital, reliable materials scheduling and improved productivity are compelling. More domestic applications are having a commercial impact with organisations able to match building location, capacity and occupancy overheads to an increasingly mobile workforce.

At Coeus we are helping organisations grapple with the, often unexpected, consequences of this dramatic change on the IT operating model and user experience.

Systems and Data Integration

In the 80s and 90s manufacturing surged forward with Just in Time production as a first step in improving integration with the broader supply chain, but this was often limited to a single plant and required a lot of daisy chain systems to make things work as intended.

The Construction industry started a bit behind with a variety of disciplines operating largely independently to haphazardly deliver the architects vision. The resulting buildings looked impressive, but lacked integration of systems, consumed excessive resources and have a legacy of in life management information gaps.

The rise of APIs has been game changer in manufacturing allowing systems and data to integrate seamlessly. Integration with departments, supply chain partners and customers outside the core production facility creates a more reliable information flow allowing costs to fall, transparency improve and choice expand in a world where customer experience is king.

The life-cycle of buildings is, of course, much longer. However, retrofit solutions are enabling rapid progress through probes connected to disparate building management systems feeding shared data lakes. The connectivity effected is enabling mobile applications for a variety use cases including access management, environmental control, maintenance and integration with social media.

The data available is leading to better building utilisation and layouts. New buildings will have both more integrated management systems, but also be designed, planned and constructed with the benefit of data insights not previously available.

Coeus are experienced in supporting businesses to embrace digitisation, and understand the strategic impacts and disruption this can cause, whilst also recognising the challenges of moving existing IT organisations to new ways of working.

Data Analytics

IoT is enabling data capture throughout the production process and out in the field with intelligent sensors transforming the potential of SCADA control systems. At a basic level this enables faster more accurate detection of faults at an affordable cost. The application of data science allows the generation of even greater value through the predictive analytics reducing maintenance costs and, more importantly unplanned outages can be avoided.

A preponderance of other technology

Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, 3D Printing, AI and Machine Learning combined with this wealth of end to end data is re-shaping everything from product development to training and health and safety management. Industry 4.0 is happening at a bewildering pace and organisations need to work out which elements will be the game changers for them and which the Betamax moment.

ROI

Manufacturing and Construction are highly competitive sectors operating with tight margins. This makes major investment decisions a challenge. Some of these emerging technologies can feel a bit speculative when seen through the lens of businesses comfortable with established ways of working. IT leadership may need to persuade the rest of the business to join the 4th industrial revolution.

At Coeus, we guide our clients through this transition by helping to identify the technology choices with greatest ROI. We don’t, however, get swept away in the hype cycle. A good example is data analytics where organisations can sink a lot of money in expensive tooling without a clear data strategy. We encourage our clients to focus on the data management side first and work with simpler tools that they may already have before committing to more eye watering spend.

We also encourage our clients not to be mesmerised by the new opportunities. A back to basics focus on cost optimisation, operating model effectiveness and good sourcing can all free up money and resources to deliver transformational change within constrained overall budgets.

Read some of our Manufacturing & Engineering case studies here.

Get in touch to speak to our Sector Lead, John Gorrell, here.