Prepare for the Digital Age of Manufacturing

The advent of digitalization in the manufacturing industry is affecting every part of the plant, form staff to equipment.  All assets and machinery in operation are connected digitally with entities outside the plant and with each other. While the digital revolution unlocks opportunities for more streamlined and effective operations, it can substantially raise complications for those who not ready for the change. In this article will discuss issues related digitalization of your plant. For the purpose of this article, we have considered the manufacturing industry, but the concepts and ideas discussed are applicable to other industries that are undergoing digitalization as well.

Smart manufacturing plants carry out just-in-time deliveries by connecting their supply chains and factories. Automating this process enables the plant to receive whatever it needs, whenever it is needed; thus improving efficiency, minimizing waste and boosting reliability. However, such lean manufacturing processes require equipment in the plant to be available at all times. This means that you need to keep the machinery well maintained and operational at all times. Any unplanned downtime can seriously impact your operations, which can be caused due to a number of factors. For example, if new technology or machinery is installed in your plant and the technicians are not familiar with it; or perhaps your experienced staff is retiring and new people need training.

Training, Skill gap and Reliability

Workers with critical thinking abilities and technical skills required to diagnose and repair advanced machinery are becoming increasingly hard to find. Sometimes, even the most experienced maintenance personnel don’t follow the systematic method for diagnosing problems and end up relying on trial and error for fixing them. This can be unnecessarily costly and time-consuming.

To make sure this doesn't happen in your plant, conduct on-the-job training for your workers. Workers who are trained to resolve electrical faults in a systemic method will resolve those issues with the least possible expense in terms of time, costs and danger. Such Maintenance professionals for all the functions in your plant will safely, quickly and efficiently diagnose and resolve issues before they hurt your plant's reliability.

Safety and cyber-security

Smart, streamlined, digitalized operations come with their own risks. While no one has a single solution to completely eliminate the threat of Cyber-attacks, it is strongly advised for companies to be careful while sharing access to companies digital assets; especially to outside entities such as the Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

It is also necessary to train your staff on the security protocols inside the plant. Establish policies related to personal cell phones in the workplace and conduct email-phishing training to minimize most vulnerability. Training your employees in this front is integral to your company's long-term growth.

Future of Plant digitalization

In the near future, plants belonging to all industries will enter the age of extensive digitalization. The supply chain, plant and enterprise will be interconnected. Advanced automation, like robotics, will be the key to success and training will still hold a bigger role in the industry. This is because operating complicated cutting-edge equipment requires an even higher level of skills and know-how. A plant’s training program is inevitably the part of its digital transformation today as well as in the future. 

In conclusion, it is important to bring your staff up to speed with the latest technology, conduct training programs to deal with the skill gap and boost your plant's long-term reliability by accounting for its cyber-security.
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