8 Barriers in a Manufacturer’s Mind in Smart Manufacturing and How to Overcome Them with ProManage

Nowadays, manufacturers are under pressure from the competition, small orders, shortened delivery terms, supplier audits, employee shortages, economic difficulties, etc. Smart manufacturing is the answer to these difficulties. 
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Nowadays, manufacturers are under pressure from the competition, small orders, shortened delivery terms, supplier audits, employee shortages, economic difficulties, etc. Smart manufacturing is the answer to these difficulties. 

Some of the benefits of managing manufacturing operations digitally and automatically with the help of IoT based real-time smart systems are:

•Factories become transparent with their weaknesses and bottle necks, and those are automatically improved without human touch. 

•Status of operation or any problems are visible in real-time to be solved immediately.  

•Decision-making is done based on data and automatic analysis reports.

•Improved productivity, improved production speed, reduced costs, shorter delivery terms, better quality, and auditability for the supply chain.

•Being a preferred employer for talented people, having an attractive work environment for young engineers, and improved employee satisfaction. 

•Production managers and operators spend their work hours to improve manufacturing process and overcome losses guided by smart manufacturing system as opposed to documentation and manual data collection.

•Although manufacturers, especially small to medium enterprises, understand these benefits, they are also discouraged by many unknowns to take a step into smart manufacturing. 

In this blog, we explore the main barriers in manufacturers’ minds in relation to smart manufacturing and how ProManage Cloud overcomes them. 

1. Significant Effort & Time Requirement to Implement a Smart Manufacturing System

Manufacturers may assume that they need to dedicate a significant team of talented employees for a period of time during a Smart Manufacturing system implementation phase. 

The steps involved in implementing a smart manufacturing system requires an arrangement of many different resources; this process can take months and use resources from the manufacturer and technology provider. 

Unfortunately, numerous manufacturers face massive workforce shortages, so they cannot afford to dedicate or find the resources required to implement a smart manufacturing system.

What if the system can be installed in one day and require no special training? 

Based on the experience of 300+ installations in various manufacturing companies, the first step towards digitalization is to have a transparent company and digital data acquisition from the plant to understand the current status, production performance values and also losses and bottlenecks.  

ProManage Cloud is developed with this experience and it has 3 steps of functionality levels for easy deployment stage with minimum effort and time  

It is a no-code platform that any manufacturing company can use by simply using the configuration tool. Since it is also cloud-based, the implementation process usually takes less than a day in a typical manufacturing plant. By the end of the day, a manufacturer can collect real-time data from the machines to access tools and reports that help monitor, manage, and improve their production processes and KPIs. 

2. Lack of a Roadmap in Digitalization

Deploying a smart manufacturing system at once is a huge undertaking for manufacturing companies, especially SMEs.  The companies need to implement the system and train their employees, but they also need to manage the cultural transformation from traditional to digital. 

It is difficult to figure out how to begin and where to begin. Doing this big jump all at once can be a daunting task and a recipe for failure. 

ProManage Cloud is designed with the experience of more than 300 Smart manufacturing installations to provide the easiest, fastest, and the most profitable way of Smart Manufacturing transformation.

With ProManage Cloud, factories became Smart with three steps supported by three major packages. 

Once companies are comfortable with using digital tools, they can add additional modules to manage their Maintenance, Quality, and Energy Operations. They can collect process and sensor data from the machines to do Statistical Process Control analysis and be ready for AI for predictive manufacturing operations management. 

3. High Amount of Capital and Operational IT Costs

A typical smart manufacturing solution requires large local servers to host the application, database to store the data, and other necessary infrastructure. This comes with a significant initial investment and maintenance costs. In addition, it requires skilled personnel to maintain the systems and guarantee operational sustainability and security to protect against cyber-attacks. 

With ProManage Cloud, the only IT requirement for the manufacturer is to provide a low-bandwidth internet connection between the Edge device and ProManage Cloud. ProManage Cloud handles all the remaining IT-related resources. 

4. Lack of Necessary Budget

Smart manufacturing systems typically come with a price tag of more than $100K, as it is a mix of custom-built and specialized software and IoT-based hardware. This large budget makes the solution inaccessible for most manufacturers. 

With ProManage Cloud, the price depends on the number of machines with unlimited users. Pricing starts at $45 per month per machine, and the price goes down as the number of machines in a plant increases. 

For companies that want to see the benefits of a smart manufacturing system, they can do Proof-of-Concept demonstrations with a few machines before a full-scale deployment in the plant. 

5. Lack of Expertise and Credibility of the Technology Vendor

ProManage Cloud is developed after successful implementation of more than 300 projects in various manufacturing processes worldwide. Implementations have been done in five  continents tracking and managing more than 30,000 machines. 

Customers are among different industries within discrete manufacturing: automotive, plastics, machining, metal processing, home appliances, food, and packaging, FMCG, electronics, etc. 

Some of the customers are Siemens, 3M, ABB, Schneider Electric, Haribo, Lincoln Electric, and Maxion Wheels.

ProManage knows how to manage deployment of Smart Manufacturing Transformation projects and works together with manufacturers along the transformation process. 

6. Unclear Investment Amount and ROI

Smart manufacturing system costs can be high, typically more than $100K; this is a high capital expenditure for any company and difficult for the management team to justify value and return on investment. 

With the help of cloud infrastructure subscription-based payment beginning with one machine or station and sequential usage levels from basic to the most comprehensive with low initial costs become available. In some cases, the return on investment could be as low as one to two weeks. One example is Labsan, a medical device manufacturer using plastic injection molding technology. After installing the system, ProManage discovered that Labsan machines stopped for about 20 minutes for about 20 times during the night shift but not during the day. This was a surprising discovery for Labsan, albeit a costly one. After the Labsan team investigated the situation, they realized that the plastic injection machine senses an alarm and stops its operation. This alarm was of low importance for Labsan's production, and the operator could correct it by pushing a few buttons. However, there are only a few operators working the night shift, and it took them an average of 20 minutes to realize and overcome the problem; this became costly for Labsan. After understanding the root cause of the problem, the engineers found a quick fix and saved about 20% of downtime for each of Labsan’s machine. This savings amounted to a value that is much greater than the low price tag associated with ProManage Cloud.

7. Continuous Improvement

Traditional smart manufacturing systems typically are installed on premise with procedures that require software updates on servers and each of the client machines and operator interface. 

As ProManage Cloud is a web-based Cloud solution, updates occur seamlessly and frequently without the user noticing. 

Successful customers constantly send feedback on potential improvement ideas to manage operations more efficiently. Ideas with the highest impact to ProManage customers are implemented. ProManage has 130+ dedicated engineering employees to improve the ProManage solution. 

8. Cultural Transformation

Adopting a digital manufacturing solution can be a daunting task for the company and the employees as such systems are complex and multi-faceted. This requires a transformation in company culture, and if not done right, it can fail. Many smart manufacturing systems, Manufacturing Execution systems or ERPs have failed in the past, simply because they underestimated or ignored the cultural transformation or human aspect of those implementations. 

At ProManage, we provide manufacturers, both SME and large enterprises, a step by step approach to digitalization. This phased approach to digitalization starts simple and progressively adds new functionality as the company culture matures in digitalization. 

The system has operator interfaces to share real-time data and production status, mismatches, and problems with the operator in real-time. The system invites operators and technicians to the digital transformation to provide benefits to be more successful in the production and direct them in real-time to obtain desired results. 

The speed of this cultural transformation determines the speed of upgrades to higher functionality packages to increase benefits. Companies take time to improve their infrastructure, train the employees and guarantee their buy-in. We train the company employees on smart manufacturing systems, how to use ProManage, and how to understand data and improve their manufacturing processes. We also provide a platform where employees can access on-demand training videos on smart manufacturing and improvement culture with ProManage. 

We also provide weekly consulting sessions with our digital transformation experts to talk about weekly production results, losses, improvement areas, and potential actions for improvement. These weekly sessions can last as long as the company wants to reach full digital maturity.