The output from industrial manufacturing enables mass manufacturing in other industries, by fabricating products intended for industrial use from raw materials.
There are two key segments of industrial manufacturing: industrial OEMs who make the products and industrial manufacturers who consume the products.
This industry is experiencing significant disruption, led by increasing customer expectations. Today, with technology advancements during industry 4.0 (which is coming to an end and giving rise to Industry NeXT) and the mass embrace of digital during COVID-19, customers now expect industrial manufacturers to create an industrial digital platform.
An industrial digital platform is a technology-enabled business model that streamlines processes and enables manufacturers to build connected products. This could range from wind turbines and connected buildings or oilfields to engines in vehicles.
“The customer now expects a digitally enabled and connected experience from digital platform OEMs that satisfy the demand beyond products and delivers the expected outcome, such as enhanced experiences in building, improved plant reliability and maintenance and improved worker safety,” says Vinay Bhanot, Senior Vice President, ERS at HCLTech.
It’s not just about manufacturing products anymore. OEMs need to also focus on aftermarket support and predictive maintenance for their equipment that’s in the field, without human intervention. This can only be facilitated with a connected and intelligent digital platform that not only monitors equipment health but also provides better predictive maintenance via technologies like IoT, 5G, generative AI and extended reality.
The business benefits and challenges
“Depending on the use case, an industrial digital platform will help businesses drive more efficiency and productivity among the workforce,” says Bhanot.
He points to the example of driving sustainability in the manufacturing industry. By building an automated, connected platform that analyzes assets, increases availability of equipment, reduces downtime, organizations can reduce waste and increase energy efficiency, which helps with meeting net zero goals, while helping end customers reduce their costs and drive more productivity.
On the other hand, there are several challenges to implementing industrial digital platforms. The core considerations are around cost, adoption, monetization and talent. The upfront cost of developing and deploying a digital platform requires a significant investment and at the same time, OEMs are still working out how to effectively monetize these solutions with their end customers. The lack of talent around skills like artificial intelligence (AI), software and data engineering are also a hurdle that industrial manufacturers need to overcome.
A change in approach
To create and deliver effective industrial digital platforms, OEMs need to create a technology-orientated workforce with skills in hardware and software.
The war for talent is challenging. The OEMs, technology providers and end customers are fighting for the same limited talent pool of digitally savvy workforce. Demand is outstripping supply. But, to overcome this, organizations can turn to their own workforce with reskilling and upskilling programs. This will help create and maintain digital platforms that enable a seamless user experience.
The future of connected manufacturing
According to Statista, in 2022, almost six in ten professionals working in the production of consumer goods stated that digital manufacturing platforms are one of their key priorities over the following one to two years. The same percentage of managers expressed this intention in the engineering and construction sector, followed by professionals in the automotive industry at 54%.
This connected future was envisioned during the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where manufacturers embraced technology and automation to build the smart factories of the future.
Looking ahead to Industry NeXT or Industry 5.0, manufacturers will now look to embrace digital platforms as a medium to connect humans and machines to enhance business processes. The roll-out of 5G will also enable visibility across all an organizations’ assets in real-time, with AI driving industry-wide productivity.
In pursuit of this connected, technology-enabled future in manufacturing, OEMs can turn to transformation partners, like HCLTech, to help design, engineer and deploy their industrial digital and intelligent platforms and go-to-market faster at scale in a sustainable manner.
HCLTech advises, curates and orchestrates technologies from market-leading partners and innovators. Together, the IT transformation provider and its partners provide scalable, fully integrated engineering solutions that deliver next-level results.
For more information on this topic and more, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org