You start any journey by taking the first step. The pilot project is that first step. If the Planning process for the Digital Transformation was done well, then the most important tools should be in place for that first step.
Our process below applies some tools from the Planning process, puts pieces of the puzzle in place, and provides a foundation for building out the architecture and continuing the Digital Transformation/Smart Manufacturing journey.
Pilot projects, like any project, should have a plan for success. That plan starts with a clear Project Charter. The Project Charter lays the groundwork for clarity on the goals and objectives of the project, work to be done or scope, stakeholders, how and when to communicate with whom, and more. Our experience tells us success comes with the right amount of planning…what we call the Goldilocks zone…just the right amount.
The network and data architecture selected and implemented in the pilot is of paramount importance. This architecture often becomes the foundation on which the rest of the Digital Transformation is built. We use the “guardrails” from our Planning process to select and define our architecture and tools. The Digital Strategy along with technology rules and principles ensure our architectures and technologies are flexible, scalable, affordable, secure, and don’t create any vendor lock-in.
Now we build out the architecture and solution. This includes networking, installing, and configuring hardware and software, ensuring strong security. This is also the time when the software solutions are built out that will store, analyze, and display the data from your plant. Those solutions will help drive visibility into downtime with reason codes using Pareto charts, provide quality data to solve golden batch problems for better set points, find and eliminate inefficiencies in manufacturing processes, and more. After the software and network is in place we connect to the machine(s) defined in the pilot. This is where the rubber meets the road, and we can glean what’s really happening inside the four walls of the plant.
Seeing the data come in from the machines in real-time is fun…that never gets old. People on the plant floor now have access to data which will help drive decisions and valuable actions for innovation. Stakeholders can now see the current and future state of the business in real-time and make better tactical and strategic decisions. The project should now be providing a ROI in 3-6 months if designed and executed well. If the project was a success, then it’s time to look at Scaling to other machines, a line, the plant or more.
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