In a digital factory, everything is digitized, collaboration and data are priorities, and paper-based processes are eliminated. A digital factory is a team-powered unit that incorporates a modern workflow with advanced digital platforms to keep a manufacturer competitive into the future.
Whether you are building from the ground up or reconfiguring an existing operation, following are guidelines to help you design a customized model and set up your digital factory:
- Address company structure.
Prepare your company for a culture shift. For companies to make the best use of a digital transformation, the company should be structured to embrace it. This should correlate with the company’s business model, configuration and limitations and may require some restructuring.
Medium.com explains that change isn’t always easy, especially when workers are familiar and comfortable with their current software and processes. It can take time and rationality for them to embrace a change. They should be comfortable that the digital transformation will enhance – not hinder – their jobs.
In most situations, smooth implementation is not necessarily a technical problem. It can often be a cultural problem that can be eased with incentive-based hands-on learning. Employees need time and elbow room to learn new technology and get comfortable with it.
- Ensure a strong foundation.
Digital factories need modern digital platforms, solutions and tools, along with new workflows to support the business. Review your company’s current operations, noting any weaknesses or gaps that need to be addressed to support your digital environment. That could include: modern IT infrastructure; tools to streamline delivery; agile culture; cross-team skill sets. Each of the digital products you implement will require a different combination of skills. You may need to retrain internally or hire new talent to give you the workforce foundation you’ll need in your digital factory.
As with any new project, your best plan will be developed collaboratively. Begin with a thorough analysis of workflows. Consider the stations and equipment locations that can maximize productivity. Simulations of machines, materials and people’s movements can reveal bottlenecks to avoid when designing new efficiencies.
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- Build out your framework.
Using your collaborative plan, a manufacturing framework will take shape for your layout design. For true collaboration, engineers and operators should help define and plan the physical floor space. All stakeholders in the factory should share their insights for ways to optimize, and it is an ideal opportunity to see the ways the automation will help everyone.
Filling a fundamental niche in a digital factory, data should be a priority. The more data a manufacturer has access to and can use to guide actions, the more agile they can be. When that data is made available on the cloud, it can be better organized, ever more usable and bolster the strength of the company.
Thus, the software tools used in a digital factory are vital. Products like Autodesk Fusion 360 enable manufacturers to make use of the data they collect. Data can be shared among people, processes and machines across the entire workflow for a mutually beneficial relationship enabling:
- better products,
- faster time to market,
- more sustainable results,
- decreased downtime,
- increased efficiencies.
As illustrated by Autodesk in a customer story, Fusion 360 provides a single location where workers can share models, create assemblies in one file, see component dependencies, conduct motion studies, and figure out interfaces.
As you implement your digital factory, these guidelines can help you with planning, modeling and setup. The result can be a team-powered unit that incorporates a modern workflow with advanced digital platforms to keep you competitive into the future.