Digital manufacturing often stuck in ‘pilot purgatory’

by Talk Business & Politics staff ([email protected]) 253 views 

A new McKinsey & Co. survey on digital manufacturing has found that most manufacturers are stuck in “pilot purgatory” when it comes to the practice. By “pilot purgatory,” McKinsey means there is “significant activity underway,” but companies haven’t experienced “meaningful bottom-line benefits.”

On average, 92% of respondents felt they were either on the same level as or ahead of their peers when it comes to digital manufacturing – “digitizing the production value chain.” However, less than one-third (30%) had actually moved their programs from pilot to scale.

“The results of our Digital Manufacturing Global Expert Survey 2018 clearly indicate that most companies are still struggling to move successfully from the piloting of point solutions to delivering sustainable impact at scale. Success stories for capturing sustainable impact at scale are still few and far between,” McKinsey noted in the report.

The companies in McKinsey’s survey are actively pursuing these three areas of digital manufacturing:
• Connectivity, or enabling the flow of relevant information to the right decision makers in real time. Examples include digital performance management and the use of augmented reality to communicate interactive work instructions and standard operating procedures.

• Intelligence, or applying advanced analytics and artificial intelligence to an array of data to generate new insights and enable better decision making. Examples include predictive maintenance, digital quality management, and AI-driven demand forecasting.

• Flexible automation, or leveraging new robotic technologies to improve the productivity, quality, and safety of operational processes. Examples include autonomous guided vehicles and using cobots for assembly processes.

“These (survey results) show largely continued levels of enthusiasm and prioritization related to capturing benefits from Digital Manufacturing with notable acceleration in China and India and regression in Japan,” according to McKinsey.