“Digital transformation” continues to be a hot topic in manufacturing and organizations are either jumping on the bandwagon or getting woefully left behind.


All of this with the main goal of enhancing operational visibility, optimizing resource efficiency and productivity and, ultimately, building better products for less money. Current CEB research and Frost & Sullivan's Global Digital Transformations study both show that 87% of senior business leaders now cite digitization as a priority for their company – and 66% fear failure to digitize will jeopardize their competitive position.


The question is becoming less about "should we digitize?"and more about "how do we digitize?". In a manufacturing context, the digitization question can be magnified by complex, interdependent procedures and a "hardwired" workforce that is resistant to change. Here are some tips that will help you overcome barriers and digitize your manufacturing operations.

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1. Start Small

Digitizing your factory can be a bit overwhelming, especially when you take on too much in an effort to "boil the ocean". Start with small, high impact projects that you can use to bolster internal support for the initiative. To get going quickly, you may want to consider a low cost, cloud-based solution that will allow you to deploy a digital solution efficiently without a huge up-front cost.


2. Look for the Paper

If you do not collect data using tablets, chance are your facility is riddled with paper forms that are used to do everything from confirm quality processes to requesting vacation days. If you want to make a big and immediate impact, take a look in your filing cabinets for what data is collected using paper forms on the factory floor.


3. Get Buy-in from Line of Business Managers

Getting supervisors and managers involved early in your digitization project is important because they will be intimately involved in the development of the ultimate solution. Ask your manager in maintenance, QA, production, etc., if there are any pain points or challenges with their current processes. Are there issues with waiting for the data to be made available? Are their problems with data collection including errors and omissions? Are the steps generally followed correctly, or are they missed? Gather insights and support!


4. Staff engagement is key

You could develop the best forms and workflows using the best tools in the world and it still could fail if your staff are not engaged and interested. Many of our customers use a big, clunky ERP system that takes effort to training and on-board staff and offers too many options. Our apps help by offering a more focused, personalized and efficient user experience that make the process more enjoyable for staff. They simply upload the data collected by their Weever App to their ERP each week.


5. Make it about Continuous Improvement and Rewards

Digitization is essentially a big continuous improvement project so you can apply a lot of the principles you know from Lean and World Class Manufacturing to this project. For example, focus your first initiative on making it easy for staff to provide "improvement suggestions" and execute quick kaizens. Provide rewards for submissions. Make using tablets fun and engaging for your staff and they will adopt the technology much quicker.


Good luck and let us know if we can help. Our experienced Business Solutions Team is here to help.


Additional resources: https://www.toptal.com/insights/future-of-work/digital-transformation-success


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