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American Manufacturing Summit

TAKEAWAYS FROM THE 2019 AMERICAN MANUFACTURING SUMMIT

APRIL 15, 2019

Predictronics had a successful experience at the 2019 American Manufacturing Summit in Chicago, IL.

The purpose of this event is to provide a platform for innovators and industry heads to converge and explore new ideas to maximize manufacturing production, boost profitability, optimize operations, and achieve standardization across all facilities.

The summit played host to numerous roundtables, networking meet-and-greets, and workshop sessions, connecting solutions providers with manufacturing leaders to discuss topics such as reducing wasted resources and inefficiencies in production, increasing the lifecycle of production assets and products, improving process performance and product quality by integrating AI approaches and IIoT digitization, and overcoming barriers to realizing sustainability.

The event boasted noteworthy appearances by top-tier level executives from industry giants, such as Toyota, GE, P&G, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft, Dow, 3M, Coca Cola, CVS, Nestle, GM, Sherwin-Williams, Keurig Dr. Pepper, and more.

A common challenge emerged amongst manufacturers at the event. Many expressed issues with advancing beyond the pilot stage when assessing new innovations. While businesses recognize the benefits of certain technologies, many find executing a full-scale rollout and realizing the potential of those benefits has proven to be more of a challenge.

CEO Dr. Edzel Lapira shares his top three causes of and solutions for “pilot purgatory,” as observed at the summit:

  1. Many manufacturers embrace technology for technology’s sake without choosing an initiative that could serve as an actual application to solve real-world problems. This can lead to wasted expense with no true impactful outcome. Not only this, but it can set solutions providers up for failure and possibly sour the partnership, as well as the perception of the technology, even though it may hold value.

    Instead, businesses should deploy a solution that cuts across numerous divisions and facilities, as opposed to one that only makes a difference in one particular location. This can be achieved by defining broad objectives or Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), such as establishing predictive maintenance schedules, improving product quality, or optimizing production efficiency. Companies should treat each individual innovation initiative as a single component within their larger business strategies. This will allow them to more easily meet operational goals and see real value.
  2. Companies often initiate isolated PoC projects without developing long-term goals and properly preparing for digitization. Statistically, only 40% of employed innovation initiatives are successful, which is often due to a misalignment in strategic business plans and technological readiness.

    To combat this, technology providers should clearly establish what is required from manufacturers in order to better equip facilities in the transition to Industry 4.0.

    Not only this, but underlying issues to solution deployment should be addressed early on and at every stage. Examples of these challenges can include everything from gaps in technological framework to a lack of good available data.

    To tackle these issues, here are three questions manufacturers should ask themselves before starting a new pilot project:
    • What would a full roll-out/technology stack look like for this application?
    • What are the skill sets needed to support this new technology?
    • What culture change is expected of my workforce once the technology is implemented?
    Being better prepared will guarantee a more successful test project and provide greater impact for the business at large.
  3. Some businesses have a culture that promotes developing solutions in-house. While this does guarantee confidentiality, developing in-house solutions and acquiring necessary expertise can cause a longer roll-out time frame and greater resource allocation and expense.

    By forming partnerships with hardware, software, and solutions companies, manufacturers can take advantage of the research, experience, and domain knowledge these providers have to offer, making application development a smooth process and ensuring support and maintenance when issues arise during roll-out.

Pilot projects are a key first engagement step for manufacturers in understanding, evaluating, and testing solutions. However, a PoC should be the beginning, not the end, of technological advancement and innovation. By considering the three points above, manufacturers can better harness the value of new solutions and ensure that more pilot projects extend beyond the testing phase, achieving company-wide rollouts that impact business goals and create real value.


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