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Digitization’s Role in the Transformation of Manufacturing

Digitization’s Role in the Transformation of Manufacturing

The global manufacturing industry is in the midst of a fundamental transformation. Major external forces are challenging traditional concepts about how and where value is created -- across engineering, manufacturing, supply chain, and service organizations. These same forces represent massive opportunity for manufacturers that adapt their product offerings and business models.

To achieve new competitive advantage in the 21st century, manufacturing companies must act now to transform the way they create and service products.

We believe the global manufacturing industry is being driven to transform how it creates and services products by seven external forces -- digitization, globalization, regulation, personalization, smart products, connectivity, and servitization. Here, we will look at how digitization -- and model based design -- supports manufacturing transformation.

Digitization's transformative force
How has digitization been a transformative force? It has enabled manufacturers to move from rudimentary drawings to highly sophisticated 3D models that are suitable for digital mockup and simulation activities. In other words, digitization is the concept of taking analog information and converting it to digital information through the use of computers so it can be easily shared and leveraged across a global value chain.

In the context of manufacturing, digitization has its roots in engineering -- CAD software enabled manufacturers to create a digital representation of its products for purposes of early stage design, testing, simulation, and manufacturing automation. Digital technologies such as CAD enable people to design a virtual prototype for testing before it hits the manufacturing floor. This can result in large cost savings and decrease in time it takes to deliver products to market.

While digitization started out in product development, it is migrating onto the factory floor and into the service environment. For example, using 3D animations during a service visit to demonstrate how a particular part can be dismantled and repaired can dramatically improve the efficiency of the service experience. In this scenario, manufacturers could provide an augmented reality experience for the service technician, overlaying a digital image of a product on top of the physical to show the component parts and simplify the repair process.

Over the next five to 10 years, digitization is expected to sweep across manufacturing. In a survey conducted by Manufacturing Executive, 94 percent of respondents said they expect some level of end-to-end digitization of their business processes in the next 10 years, with 63 percent saying they will be largely digitized in that time.

When it comes to electronically integrating their design and production processes -- the so-called Digital Factory idea -- the numbers are equally impressive. Ninety-two percent expect a high degree of integration in the next 10 years, with 38 percent saying they will be completely digitized within a decade.

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