If you are a mid-sized manufacturer, digital transformation can be a daunting prospect, but it doesn’t have to be scary. A slow, steady, and scalable approach can eliminate the risks and realize ROI within a year.

We’ve put together a quick guide that seeks to maximize the benefits and eliminate the downsides while achieving goals within a reasonable timeline…Sounds good, right?

1. Focus On A Continuous Improvement Journey

Unless you are GE or Siemens or one of the larger automotive manufacturers, a radical transformation of your business within a year simply isn’t realistic. For many, digital transformation will be a slow and steady journey made up of a series of planned, phased implementations but also unplanned investments based on insights and customer requests you get along the way.

Think of digital transformation as an extension of what you’ve been doing all along: Continual Improvement but with connectivity, IIoT, and analytics as the drivers.

2. Embrace the Cloud

Business owners in general tend to be of two minds about Cloud solutions. Some see a continuous expense year upon year when they’d rather pay once as a capital expense. Others embrace the freedom of choice and appreciate the flexibility to scale up or down as needed.

We know SaaS cloud solutions are the future. They offer a product that will grow and evolve with you over time, providing more integration and more capabilities the longer you use them.

Subscription-based software licensing is also lowering the barrier to entry for enterprise software which only a few years ago might have been too expensive for some, like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) from Oracle/NetSuite for instance.

While it will be the integration between an ERP and your plant floor analytics that will provide the biggest transformational effect, other software solutions such as Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and Manufacturing Operations Management (MOM) are sure to follow suit with cloud products and subscription licensing.

In general, cloud solutions have a shorter ramp-up time and implementation time, so costs are lower and adoption momentum won’t stall out before you start seeing ROI.

ERP and Machine Analytics combine to provide powerful visibility at the machine, plant and enterprise level.

3. Don’t Look For A Specific Use Case First, Discover One

In a recent Industry Week survey saw 56% of the C-Suite respondents could not name a use case for pursuing IIoT. Based on what our customers tell us, the best use case for IIoT analytics becomes obvious when you have more visibility into what’s really happening on the plant floor.

We typically see that our customers make tangible OEE improvements within months by making small tweaks for big effects. In other words, they implemented SensrTrx and saw the use case right away (see the case study here).

4. Start On the Factory Floor – Build Up, Not Down

A key piece of any digital transformation journey is data-driven which means providing visibility into a plant’s operations at the machine and operator level.

Rather than trying to imagine an ideal platform that does everything with that data, we suggest investing in machine connectivity and contextual analytics first to inform some of the aggregate dashboards, automated processes and other integrations later that will provide the most value.

For example, a dashboard that shows downtime, but gives you very little visibility to the factors that may be contributing isn’t nearly as valuable as one with a view into downtime by shift, part, operator and reason code. SensrTrx Analytics can establish the trend reporting which can be used to establish an enterprise view as needed.

5. Take A Phased Approach – Buy Only What You Need Now

This next tip can apply to those seeking to replace old legacy systems as well as those planning to build new capabilities.

Instead of building tons of dependencies into a fully integrated system that require long implementation times and expensive consultants, build systems in tandem, using them as you need them to create the equivalent of a minimum viable product (MVP), then look for inexpensive ways to integrate them and leverage the data you’ve collected.

The value of an integrated system isn’t that it does everything, but that it does what you need it to do. Instead of a costly integration between two different vendor products that might even duplicate capabilities, look for a streamlined system that leverages the best tool for the job and utilizes the cloud to speed up integration points.

6. Scale Up To More Capabilities Later

Ideally, building towards digital transformation will feel like leveling up, in which you build basic functionality on each platform that provides you with immediate ROI, replaces manual tasks, and offers visibility across business units.

Justifying the cost and the expense shouldn’t be a single exercise but rather an ongoing one, in which each success builds from the last and ROI can be viewed as a rising trend.

If you’d like to see how SensrTrx can help move you towards a ground up digital transformation, starting with machine-level visibility that provides ROI right away and then leveling-up by integrating with your enterprise systems easily. Reach out to us for a customized demo today.

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