Digital TransformationManufacturing

Digital Transformation In A Time of Crisis

By April 7, 2020 No Comments

The world is in a time of crisis. 

We are currently at an inflection point in the living history of American manufacturing.

There’s no use debating it, no ignoring it, and no way around it except through. I’ve talked about how the climate of tribal knowledge in manufacturing is no longer going to cut it, how companies must embrace Digital Transformation or accept decimation. Today, I want to dig into those steps and talk about what the process of digital transformation in a time of crisis should look like.

There will be winners and losers in the post-COVID-19 world and the choices you make now, today, will decide which category you fall into. The success gap, the space between a business succeeding and failing has been getting smaller and smaller over the past decade. In the last month, it has become infinitesimally small. Hard decisions made quickly, and strong effective leadership are the new differentiators between success and failure.

That brings us to the question: 

What is Digital Transformation and How Can I Implement It?

Digital Transformation at its most simple core is taking all those paper reports that no one looked at and turning them into dashboards, interactive screens. It’s going from weekly meetings with stacks of paper and long, drawn-out decision making, to viewing real-time data, and dashboards, and digging into problems when they occur. Digital Transformation allows you to instantly view data, effectively implement dynamic changes, and achieve proven results fast.

Digital Transformation is the concerted organizational effort to become quicker, leaner, and faster to respond to market factors.

Part of implementing this process will be fully utilizing your existing technology, and possibly investing in additional technology. Successfully implementing a Digital Transformation requires good knowledge and good people as well. The most successful projects bring in subject matter experts, who will tell you how to fully leverage your systems and train your staff on the most up to date technologies.

There’s a lot of changes that need to be made, and as I’ve said before, what’s needed most right now is leadership. Strong leadership is what it will take for your organization to make it through these times of uncertainty and into a post-COVID-19 landscape. 

How Can You Implement Digital Transformation?

Dream Big, But Start Small.

Like all things, start by creating a plan. Sit down with your managers and executives, listen to the people who know your facility best, and let them dream big. If money and time were no object; if you could move machines and lines, even build a whole new facility, what would that ideal manufacturing mecca look like?

Next, look at your current facility. Where are your pinch points, your single points of failure?  What are the areas that you can immediately improve? This is where you start.

If you currently do not know what production and Quality Control look like or what machine and area downtimes look like, these are great areas to start. 

Not everything needs to be a huge expensive change, and not every step requires outside help. There are small, simple, inexpensive or even free things you can do to start the Digital Transformation process.

Go ahead.
Ask yourself, have you:

  • Transitioned to digital forms?
  • Implemented digital time cards?
  • Written out each of the parts of your process?
  • Thoroughly documented all the key areas in your facility?
  • Recorded all the tribal knowledge, the information that people just have known forever?
  • Do you have a digital maintenance system?
  • How about a user-friendly digital inventory?
  • Do you know real-time what’s in your warehouse, both raw materials and finished goods?

Can all your people immediately be replaced? Not because you want to fire them, but because you might need to run another shift. You might even need to run without that person for a couple of weeks or longer. What do training and onboarding look like for your facility? Can you have additional trainers step in and onboard a new class? 

These are the questions that you need to answer. 

These are real challenges that companies are facing today, real problems that need to be solved right now. If you want your company to survive and thrive in this new unprecedented era, they simply can’t be ignored any longer.

Starting Small.

Right now. Today is the time to be the leader your organization needs. Resolve to make a change, just one single small change for the better. Find something on that list and do everything in your power to fix it, implement it, solve it, as soon as possible. Pick something that can be implemented quickly and make a major impact. If you have data, take a look at Power BI. The reporting functions in your already existing Microsoft subscription are tremendous.

If you don’t have the data, figure out how to start collecting machine data and manual process data. 

Why do we suggest starting the journey of a lifetime small? Because we need buy-in, we need to show results. If you want your organization to support a climate of positive change, you have to prove that the change is good. Good data and proven results are the ultimate trust-builder.

Truly, one step is all it takes.

Consider the world as it is now.
Realize that step could be the difference between days and decades for your facility. 

Digital Transformation: Decide Now, Start Now

There has never been a more decisive and defining moment for our industry. You’re not in this alone though. In these times of uncertainty and instability, I am here to help.

Even more importantly, I want to help.

Please reach out to me and let’s start a conversation, have some human interaction, and figure out how we can transform your company. Let’s give your employees something to trust in, something to be proud of, and let’s give the next generation of American manufacturers the opportunity to grow even stronger.