Disrupt or die? Start with the fundamentals
Your digital strategy must be driven by a clear understanding of the customer’s needs and the way your products relate to them. Digital transformation doesn’t require a radical rethink of a business model that previously brought success – it simply means leveraging better, more efficient technologies to meet and exceed customer expectations and allow data to shape strategic priorities. Thomas Honoré, CEO of Columbus, explains how vital peer insight from early adopters can help manufacturers embrace disruption and stay ahead of the competition.
I often wonder if manufacturing organisations feel as if they are trapped in a Tardis, racing at the speed of light into uncharted territory.
No sooner have they embraced the Internet of Things (IoT) than the next big thing comes along. After getting ready for Industry 4.0, suddenly it is last year’s news and they are being told to prepare for Industry X.0.
Look at the big picture but start close to home
Trends are important, no doubt, because each market trend creates opportunities for disruption, and disruption is a business changer. But this disruption is not something that happens in Silicon Valley or Shanghai – it is happening right now, just outside your door.
Car-sharing schemes have disrupted car rental businesses, free newspapers have challenged print publishing, and online-only estate agents are taking market share from high street players. Almost every business is under siege from innovative rivals with better
digital skills – but that shouldn’t deter you.
Some studies estimate that up to half of all jobs will be threatened by automation over the next ten years, from pilot to auditor, accountant to estate agent. Accenture reports that 95 per cent of chief executives expect major strategic challenges regarding disruption and the fourth industrial revolution – and yet only 20 per cent of their organisations are prepared for this.
Automation is here – but innovation is still driven by people, for the people
In the rush to disrupt, we risk overlooking the fundamentals. It all starts with the customer. Do you really know what your customers want? Do you know where your product adds value – and where it falls short?
In a recent Columbus industry report, experts from Microsoft, Weetabix and BMW Oxford all agreed that in order to grow, manufacturers must listen to their customer’s needs and build a ‘Manufacturing 2020’ strategy that allows them to constantly meet rising expectations. As Gunther Boehner, Director of Assembly at BMW Oxford says in the report, “Manufacturers need to have a strong focus on their core processes, which directly relate to customers’ needs and pain points. Flexibility in manufacturing is key.”
We see too many companies still struggling to understand how their products are used. Making clever use of IoT presents a huge opportunity for manufacturers to get closer to the customer, but it only works if you have the organisation, processes and systems to make sense of that extra data.
Don’t go it alone
In this climate of continuous innovation there is a greater need for skills and technology – but for most manufacturers developing all these solutions in-house is not an option. Careful selection of technology partners is crucial because they will have a big impact on the ability to grow. Neil Clarke, head of business unit at Weetabix achieves this through smarter data management. "We are constantly growing our data visibility, through hardware and software”, he explains. “We are also using new machinery technologies to continually automate for consistency and lower costs. Live data gives real time feedback to the operator on what they need to correct."
So how do manufacturers of all shapes and sizes travel through the minefield created by external market forces, an increasingly demanding and connected customer, competitive pressure and digitalisation expectations? The key is to start with the fundamentals: people, process excellence, digital leadership and customer success. The peer insight compiled in the Columbus report is a great resource to guide manufacturers towards this vision of success.
Thomas Honoré is Chief executive of Columbus. He has more than 20 years leadership experience at tech firms including IBM and Oracle. He regularly writes and gives speeches on digitalisation.
Siemens: Providing the First Industrial 5G Router
Across a number of industry sectors, there’s a growing need for both local wireless connectivity and remote access to machines and plants. In both of these cases, communication is, more often than not, over a long distance. Public wireless data networks can be used to enable this connectivity, both nationally and internationally, which makes the new 5G network mainframe an absolutely vital element of remote access and remote servicing solutions as we move into the interconnected age.
Siemens Enables 5G IIoT
The eagerly awaited Scalance MUM856-1, Siemens’ very first industrial 5G router, is officially available to organisations. The device has the ability to connect all local industrial applications to the public 5G, 4G (LTE), and 3G (UMTS) mobile wireless networks ─ allowing companies to embrace the long-awaited Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).
The router can be used to remotely monitor and service plants, machines, as well as control elements and other industrial devices via a public 5G network ─ flexibly and with high data rates. Something that has been in incredibly high demand after being teased by the leading network providers for years.
Scalance MUM856-1 at a Glance
- Scalance MUM856-1 connects local industrial applications to public 5G, 4G, and 3G mobile wireless networks
- The router supports future-oriented applications such as remote access via public 5G networks or the connection of mobile devices such as automated guided vehicles in industry
- A robust version in IP65 housing for use outside the control cabinet
- Prototypes of Siemens 5G infrastructure for private networks already in use at several sites
“To ensure the powerful connection of Ethernet-based subnetworks and automation devices, the Scalance MUM856-1 supports Release 15 of the 5G standard. The device offers high bandwidths of up to 1000 Mbps for the downlink and up to 500 Mbps for the uplink – providing high data rates for data-intensive applications such as the remote implementation of firmware updates. Thanks to IPv6 support, the devices can also be implemented in modern communication networks.
Various security functions are included to monitor data traffic and protect against unauthorised access: for example, an integrated firewall and authentication of communication devices and encryption of data transmission via VPN. If there is no available 5G network, the device switches automatically to 4G or 3G networks. The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and autoconfiguration of the devices,” Siemens said.
Preparing for a 5G-oriented Future
Siemens has announced that the new router can also be integrated into private 5G networks. This means that the Scalance MUM856-1 is, essentially, future-proofed when it comes to 5G adaptability; it supports future-oriented applications, including ‘mobile robots in manufacturing, autonomous vehicles in logistics or augmented reality applications for service technicians.’
And, for use on sites where conditions are a little harsher, Siemens has given the router robust IP65 housing ─ it’s “dust tight”, waterproof, and immersion-proofed.
The first release version of the router has an EU radio license; other versions with different licenses are in preparation. “With the Sinema Remote Connect management platform for VPN connections, users can access remote plants or machines easily and securely – even if they are integrated in other networks. The software also offers easy management and auto-configuration of the devices,” Siemens added.