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Here’s How You Can Jump-Start Your Company’s Smart Factories Initiative

Smart factories have the potential to increase efficiency, productivity and dollars to companies’ bottom lines. Learn how to do it successfully.The manufacturing industry is often seen as a retro throwback to an old, dying economy, one based on brute strength, big equipment, and cheap raw materials. If you’re looking for companies being revolutionized by digital transformation, AI, analytics and the Internet of things, some people believe, you should look elsewhere.

But nothing could be further from the truth. Transforming manufacturing facilities into smart factories has the potential to dramatically increase efficiency and productivity and add countless hundreds of billions of dollars to the economy and companies’ bottom lines. It’s something that’s starting to happen today. But companies need to overcome a number of roadblocks to make it happen and happen right.

Let’s start with some numbers that show off smart factories’ potential. A Capgemini report, “Smart Factories: How can manufacturers realize the potential of digital industrial revolution,” found that smart factories could add as much as $1.5 trillion to the global economy by 2022. They are expected to increase the efficiency of manufacturing over the next five years at seven times the growth rate since 1990, the report says. And it concludes that “smart factories can nearly double operating profit and margin for an average automotive OEM manufacturer.”

Manufacturers know this and are rushing to deploy digital initiatives. The report says that more than three-quarters of manufacturers — a full 76 percent — “either have a smart factory initiative that is ongoing or are working on formulating it.” More than half of all manufacturers, the report adds, have put $100 million or more towards developing smart factories.

All that is to the good. But there are serious problems as well. The report warns “Only 14% companies are satisfied with their level of smart factory success. Only 6% of manufacturers are ‘Digital Masters’: at an advanced stage in digitizing production processes and with a strong foundation of vision, governance and employee skills.”

What’s holding companies back? One big problem, the report found, is a lack of coordination among different units. Another issue, it adds, are that companies aren’t investing enough in their initiatives.

There’s another serious problem as well, according to the SearchERP blog post, “Smart factory may hinge on identifying needed skills.” Manufacturers, like many other industries, simply can’t find and hire enough qualified people for digital transformation, including developers, mobile app pros, and other digital experts.

Scott Rogers, technical director at Noble Plastics, a small manufacturer of custom-molded products based in Coteau, Louisiana, puts the problem bluntly: “We have to market ourselves well because we're not the typical kind of place that people with those skills want to come and work [for].”

How Can Manufacturers Transform their Facilities into Smart Factories?

Alpha TransForm is ideally suited for helping manufacturers build smart factories.Given those problems, what’s the best way for manufacturers to create smart factories? They need to find an experienced manufacturing solutions provider that can help all departments collaborate more closely.  

Alpha Software builds manufacturing solutions to help manufacturing employees succeed with Industry 4.0 and digital transformation. The company can build your safety inspection appnon-conformance report app, equipment inspection app, and more. Alpha Software also has pre-built solutions, such as the Gemba walk app, that can be customized for your use.The solutions utilize the latest mobile features (camera, GPS, time/date stamping, bar code scanning, etc.) for fast, accurate data collection. Each solution also has a built-in analytics engine that produces dashboards for rapid insights. 

Talk to us and we'll get working on the right solution for your needs. 

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About Author

Amy Groden-Morrison
Amy Groden-Morrison

Amy Groden-Morrison has served more than 15 years in marketing communications leadership roles at companies such as TIBCO Software, RSA Security and Ziff-Davis. Most recently she was responsible for developing marketing programs that helped achieve 30%+ annual growth rate for analytics products at a $1Bil, NASDAQ-listed business integration Software Company. Her past accomplishments include establishing the first co-branded technology program with CNN, launching an events company on the NYSE, rebranding a NASDAQ-listed company amid a crisis, and positioning and marketing a Boston-area startup for successful acquisition. Amy currently serves as a Healthbox Accelerator Program Mentor, Marketing Committee Lead for the MIT Enterprise Forum of Cambridge Launch Smart Clinics, and on the organizing team for Boston TechJam. She holds an MBA from Northeastern University.

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The Alpha platform is the only unified mobile and web app development and deployment environment with distinct “no-code” and “low-code” components. Using the Alpha TransForm no-code product, business users and developers can take full advantage of all the capabilities of the smartphone to turn any form into a mobile app in minutes, and power users can add advanced app functionality with Alpha TransForm's built-in programming language. IT developers can use the Alpha Anywhere low-code environment to develop complex web or mobile business apps from scratch, integrate data with existing systems of record and workflows (including data collected via Alpha TransForm), and add additional security or authentication requirements to protect corporate data.