Digital Transformation for Future Manufacturing

Digital Transformation for Future Manufacturing

Blog Post by Swinburne University of Technology

The Advanced Manufacturing Industry 4.0 Hub (AMI4.0Hub), based at Swinburne University of Technology’s Factory of the Future (FoF), is Australia’s only university-based program of its kind, delivered by industry-professionals to help manufacturing businesses transition to Industry 4.0 (I4.0). Bringing together a mix of seasoned manufacturing, R&D and commercialisation experts, AMI4.0Hub helps organisations access the benefits of digital technologies, including 3D printing, autonomous robotics, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and virtual/augmented reality. Businesses leave with a unique digital transformation journey and the targeted solutions they need to make an impact in their business.

Since 2019, AMI4.0 Hub has provided over 500 manufacturing businesses with accessible and actionable content to help them on their I4.0 journey, and worked closely with more than 30 businesses to provide tailored assessments and recommendations for successful I4.0 technology adoption. AMI4.0 Hub has catalysed multimillion direct and in-direct I4.0 investment in  Australian manufacturing, contributed to onshoring of work, increased employment in manufacturing sector and established I4.0 as a key enabler to any manufacturing transformation program.

Assessing the needs of your business

AMI4.0 Hub’s flagship service is the futuremap® I4.0 Assessment, providing industries with a comprehensive and intuitive way to assess their readiness and future targets for I4.0. Doing a deep dive into the operations of the business through shop floor observations combined with analysis of past one year performance and conducting structured interviews with the functional heads, the assessment surfaces opportunities for adoption of digital technologies within a business. Using a strengths-based approach, it helps a business craft a bespoke Digital transformation journey. The assessment delivers short-, medium- and long-term recommendations to boost productivity, improve process control, enhance factory visibility, create better training outcomes, and improve manufacturers’ confidence when dealing with new technologies. It enables creation of Digital champions within the business who establish the roots and sustain the transformation journey. With the digital projects selected based on alignment with the business strategy and a commercially palatable ROI (return on investment), the business confidently taps into the digital skills programs being offered by governments.

According to PACCAR Australia, “The Assessment helped my team understand where our plant sat in in our I4.0 maturity and gave us clarity on what areas we had gaps that needed focus. Since the Assessment we created a group to look through the findings and initiate projects to tackle the gaps identified”.

For startup businesses or businesses keen to develop smart products, AMI4.0 Hub offers facilitated workshop to help crystallise the unique value proposition and articulate a clear product-market fit as a first step. Using a variety of frameworks over 2-4 day period, the workshop helps a business clearly identify how new technologies can potentially enhance the value drivers to create a smarter product, identify the macro environmental factors at play and develop an implementation roadmap.

Approach to digital adoption

AMI4.0 Hub has always advocated for a business centric approach instead of a techno-centric approach to digital adoption. Put simply, pull technology in your business to enable the next set of business outcomes and not adopt technology because someone else is doing it. Other considerations may include understanding the level of maturity of a particular technology and your business’ readiness for change.

A key to successful digital transformation is balancing and careful consideration of People-Process and Technology. Technology applied to a broken process results in a digital broken process. People are key in knowing and understanding how to best use the technology and integrate it with their manufacturing and business processes to meet their business outcomes.

Creating Industry 4.0 champions

Leveraging Swinburne’s in-house expertise and its industry-leading partners, AMI4.0 Hub develops and delivers training programs for front-line leadership which combine theory and hands-on experience with I4.0 technology. These programs aim to create I4.0 champions within the business and help participants to increase their confidence, digital technology literacy and understand how these can be implemented effectively. Investment in developing and supporting these I4.0 champions has proven to accelerate I4.0 implementation and successfully embed digital technologies within a business. By building off the recommendations from the futuremap® I4.0 Assessments, these training programs help make I4.0 solutions a reality for SMEs.

Implementing real-world Industry 4.0 solutions

AMI4.0 Hub connects clients to other support organisations, technology providers and research institutions on a needs basis to assist with implementation of recommendations in the I4.0 assessment. Pooling expertise from Swinburne’s Factory of the Future, Digital Innovation Lab and other I4.0 professionals, it also delivers I4.0 pilots and operationalising I4.0 projects.

According to Sleep Corp, “the business required support to increase its preparedness to adopt I4.0. Given its mix of manufacturing and technical expertise, the AMI4.0 Hub through its I4.0 Readiness Assessment provided the right amount of capability and ongoing support to help us get on the front foot to inform Sleep Corp’s I4.0 strategy, prioritization of digital projects and their implementation. This included projects in manufacturing/process improvement and business model development towards considered I4.0 implementation, and the facilitation of valuable digital and engineering supplier engagements to sustain the same”.

In addition to helping businesses implement multiple connected projects on their Digital transformation journey, the FoF team at Swinburne also deliver point solutions to specific problems. An example is a recently concluded project with MotorOne Group (MOG). AutoKlene, a MOG SME business producing a wide range of aftermarket products faced a challenge of high rework and product wastage during manufacturing. They produce up to 200 different chemical-based car detailing and cleaning products, where the production process was completely manual, error-prone and lacking in traceability to support triaging product quality related issues, leading to increased product rework and  resultant wastage. Absence of data collection at the plant floor, such as the quantity of ingredients added, stirring time between ingredients, etc., often led to rework or reproducing the product to correct product quality issues.  FoF team developed a low-cost IIoT solution which included an operator HMI to monitor real-time production status and record production steps. This included automatically monitoring the steps of the production process, weights of ingredients added and stirring motor status. Additionally, the IIoT solution also comprised of a production dashboard for visualization and analysis of previous production runs, including reworks. The developed IIoT solution was deployed at MOG’s new Victorian site at Bayswater. The solution met the target objectives of enabling real-time monitoring and tracking of production runs, production traceability and fine-grained production run analysis and audit. Additionally, it also led to quick identification and resolution of production issues, which helped standardize the production process.

Supported and endorsed by State and Federal Governments, AMI4.0 Hub’s I4.0 Business Readiness Program is offering a supportive, data-driven approach and helping accelerate Australia’s manufacturing transformation as we move towards an I4.0 future.

Business model innovation through Servitization enabled by I4.0

While I4.0 is primarily considered to help businesses improve their bottom line, AMI4.0 Hub has also been advocating for leveraging I4.0 for top line growth and even Business model innovation, for example through Servitization.

Servitization is a transformation process through which a manufacturing company changes its business model to compete through a bundle of products and services, rather than products alone. Evolving over the last 50 years through base and intermediate levels, Advanced Services are outcome-based offerings that help manufacturer’s customers be more successful. These services focus on delivering outcomes from the product usage rather than selling product ownership. Enabled by adopting a customer needs focus with technologically enhanced products, these services create a triple-bottom-line impact of people, planet and profit, along with a long-term impact of differentiation, financial sustainability, increased market share and customer loyalty for the manufacturing business. A simple example of an advanced service is an air-conditioner manufacturer offering Heating-as-a service to some customers in addition to just selling air-conditioners.

AMI4.0 Hub has partnered with the Advanced Services Group (ASG) from the UK to help Australian manufacturing businesses servitize.

Come along and meet the Swinburne University of Technology team at the Modern Manufacturing Expo – register for free here