The transition from initial pilot stage to the large-scale roll-out of an Industry 4.0 and digital transformation project is no easy task. In its "Digital Manufacturing Global Expert Survey 2018", McKinsey highlights how even successful pilot projects often fail to make it into everyday industrial life.
According to McKinsey, there are three main reasons for this--no clear change vision or detailed implementation road map, no executive leadership of the transformation project, and technical infrastructures that hinder or complicate the scaling and roll-out of Industry 4.0 projects.
From our practical experiences of implementing Epicor ERP projects, we've found that taking a critical look at the existing technical environment is a vital first step. It's an evaluation process that can help organisations to gauge well in advance exactly how simple or complex it will be to transfer promising Industry 4.0 pilot projects into everyday operations.
Assessing the following six capability areas can help shine a spotlight on where additional work on the IT infrastructure needs to be undertaken, and which of the options for action on the path to digital transformation should be prioritised.
Ability to scale IT infrastructures--cloud.
Any digital transformation--Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, artificial intelligence or robotics--will require IT services and performance that is only technically achievable and economically viable via cloud infrastructures.
Cloud services ensure that applications are available quickly and are demand-oriented and scalable--whether for pilot projects, test environments, peak loads or standard processes. Adopting a cloud strategy also ensures that the IT team can focus on tasks that add strategic business value, rather than being caught up managing operational routines.
Ability to reach consensus--central data and analytics.
Industry 4.0 solutions will affect a wide number of different business areas, so everyone involved must be able to participate in making decisions on the viability of any proposed innovation-driven change. Enabling these joint decisions means everyone in the decision-making circle will need cross-departmental access to all relevant data and a consolidated view of all relationships and consequences.
Today's integrated ERP systems are key to enabling these vital decision-support capabilities. Centrally capturing and analysing information from operational, finance and corporate management...