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All transformations are hard, but the benefits of moving into the future of manufacturing are many and pave the way for sustainability. This was the theme during a joint manufacturing event at Stena Industry Innovation Lab in Gothenburg in collaboration with Chalmers University of Technology, PTC, Rockwell Automation and Microsoft. The conclusion? The best way to become future-ready is to get started.

What necessary capabilities must manufacturers that wish to remain competitive have in the future? According to the speakers – a cross-functional crowd offering different perspectives – a future-ready, intelligent manufacturer builds capabilities that target key areas and stretch across the value chain. 

The main thread of that transformation is digitalization, enabling the following capabilities:

•    Agility and resilience to face macro events
•    Operational efficiency and transparency
•    Operating models that match business models 
•    Superior B2B2C experiences
•    Circular innovation to meet sustainability demands 

Data and digitalization

With digitalization in place, the manufacturer creates room for new business models, enhanced operational capabilities and new value chains. New business opportunities arise through connected enterprises, - factories, - products, - field services, aftermarket transformation and an intelligent supply chain. 

Cognizant believes the best digital transformation starts small. Making targeted operational and technology decisions will strengthen your existing position, empower your workforce, and drive lasting organizational change. 

Investments in upgrading data management systems and setting up dedicated digital business teams are essential, since harnessing data is critical for most innovations, making it possible to capture, analyze, and act on operational data in real-time.

“The single point of truth lay in the data collected and analyzed,” says Prakash Deore, Manufacturing Consultant, Cognizant. ”Data insights are essential for a faster and more sustainable journey towards factories of future.”

Digital twins and 3D emulations 

An example of how digital technology can increase sustainability is through pre-testing with digital twins. Digital twins and 3D emulations can help manufacturers to plan virtually. 

Cognizant is enabling manufacturers to understand the implications of speeding up, connecting robots, etc., by building a twin of the production site. This helps reduce the downtime of new production lines without interfering with the existing production line, as well as enables training that can be executed without affecting the running production.

The road towards a circular economy 

What is the status when it comes to sustainability within manufacturing then? Clarissa Gonzales, PhD candidate in Sustainable Production at Chalmers, said that some manufacturers have already started the sustainable journey and transformation towards a circular economy. 

Clarissa also emphasized the importance of product design (products should be designed to not be thrown away) and that the operating model is connected to the business model. If possible, the information from the product should be sent back to the manufacturer, allowing management of the product lifecycle to make relevant improvements and information about when and where parts should be replaced

Christoffer Sundgren, Manufacturing Director at Microsoft, stressed that companies must be proactive and create a strategic plan that responds to a circular economy – and not responding after the edge data has been analyzed. A plan needs to be in place at the start of the project. 

Any overall trends? Businesses now move away from selling a product to selling a service – “Servitization”, an approach that should be considered in suitable situations when it brings value. “Servitization” offers more customization and often higher customer value. 

New opportunities: electrification of vehicles

Stricter requirements for sustainability also bring new opportunities. For example, the EU commission has decided to have reduced the number of carbon vehicles down by 55% in 2030. Despite multiple simultaneous headwinds such as the Covid crisis and microprocessor shortage, the demand for this type of vehicle is growing and driving the market in the right direction.

We invited Rockwell’s specialist in the area, Dominique Scheider, to present the opportunities with electric vehicles (EV:s) and urban mobility.  Scooters, cars and autonomous shuttles need batteries. To ensure the batteries are produced in a sustainable way, each battery needs a passport that enables tracing of the raw material to its origin. 

Rockwell Automation supports battery manufacturers, like Samsung SDI, with software for smart manufacturing which supports them to remain the best in class.

Partnering to build a sustainable production

To speed up the process it might be a good idea to partner up with an experienced partner like Cognizant and plan a systematic approach. 

We provide assessment frameworks and accelerators to help identify the low-hanging fruits and speed up processes for more efficient production and yield, reducing waste and cost of operation, leading to less emission. Our framework also addresses security and change management issues that companies face doing a transformation. Finally, we can roll out globally and at scale.

For more information, visit our manufacturing section of the web

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