3 minute read 4 Jul 2018
Two businessmen looking at graphic on glass pane in factory hall

How smart factory success needs a grasp of the basics, plus imagination

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EY Global

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

3 minute read 4 Jul 2018
Related topics Alliances Industrials Advisory

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Identify your pain points, then explore the art of the possible in the solutions that technology provides. 

At EY, we’ve been working for several years with our alliance partner Procter & Gamble (P&G) to license its Integrated Work System IP in order to help EY clients achieve manufacturing excellence. Yet, after all this time, the applicability of this IP sometimes surprises clients.

Recently, we took a mining and metals company to a P&G diaper factory so they could better understand how to address some of their operational issues. The client was initially confused: where is the parallel? But when we showed them that the diaper factory had capital-intensive equipment running 24/7 and was overcoming problems with drought, energy and dust — exactly the same issues the mining and metals company was struggling with —it became clear.

This is a principle we’re applying when we work with manufacturing organizations — showing them the art of the possible. But rather than showcasing all the exciting technology first, we start with the basics: identifying pain points in the manufacturing process. The technology maturity assessment comes afterward.

There are two good reasons for this:

  • Until you can identify the problems you’re trying to fix, you certainly can’t work out the return on investment in new technology.
  • Only once you know where you are on the technology maturity spectrum can you find the starting point of your journey toward solving problems.

It’s one thing to imagine the future, but why not deeply experience it today? We often bring clients into one of our wavespace centers, where they can get their hands- on technology like virtual reality to visualize maintenance environments or to see how advanced analytics on top of a data lake can help predict hairline cracks in engine blocks. Through such an immersive experience, our clients’ engineering teams can get involved in imagining what’s really possible with technology. And as manufacturing organizations progress along the technology maturity spectrum, even more becomes possible.

Until you can identify the problems you’re trying to fix, you certainly can’t work out the return on investment in new technology.

Technologies may be born in a particular industry, but eventually, through diffusion, they end up crossing over into different sectors. For example, robotic process automation is finding its way into scheduling reporting in the manufacturing space and will soon have cognitive learning overseeing it — something that, to date, has primarily been seen in financial services.

Leaders are finding that by embracing new technology, they may gain opportunities not just to catch up with the leaders in manufacturing efficiency but potentially to surpass them.

To give an example, we worked with a coal mining company whose CEO was mindful that they needed to research and explore the latest advanced technologies. Working together, in a highly consultative and collaborative approach, we touched every level of the organization and identified eight use cases around pain points that could benefit from emerging technology — from creating a digital twin of the end-to-end value chain process to using augmented reality to visualize the surface of the material being worked on. The result? The investment in the pilot was repaid in less than 10 months and achieved an 8% unit cost reduction.

It’s easy to get excited about new technologies — especially those in the field of blockchain, artificial intelligence and the internet of things. That’s where vision and imagination come into effect, in places such as an EY wavespace environment, where the art of the possible truly is on display.

But as a reminder, it’s important to focus on the basics first — to look at the pain points of your enterprise, develop use cases that take advantage of emerging technologies and then go to proof-of-concept. It’s important to crawl, then walk, then run — all part of a compelling vision of where you want to take your manufacturing operation next.

Summary

More becomes possible for those manufacturing organizations that are progressing along the technology maturity spectrum.

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By

EY Global

Multidisciplinary professional services organization

Related topics Alliances Industrials Advisory