Everything you need to know about Generative AI in Manufacturing

Digital Factory at Scale: How Smart Manufacturing Is Evolving

Digital factories are helping companies in many industries transform their businesses. While there are many ways to digitally transform a business, digital factories have become one of the best ways to transform a business.

Companies that make use of digital factories are reaping some phenomenal rewards. Products are being brought to market faster, more is being done with existing resources, customer experiences are being reimagined, and tech development costs are reduced. On top of all of these great perks, digital factories also attract and retain top talent.

Don’t confuse the term “digital factory” with “digital manufacturing.” Digital factory is an overall term used for a specific type of collaborative team or even department. Any business in any industry could potentially have a digital factory.

What Is a Digital Factory?

A digital factory is a department composed of cross-functional, dedicated teams that work together on change-the-business programs. The term “factory” is used because these dedicated teams use tools and repeatable processes to create specific products, solutions, or services.

Every member in a digital factory is strictly working on change-the-business programs, while many of their peers may be working on run-the-business programs. A digital factory calls for close communication between these two roles.

Management can think of a digital factory as an internal startup accelerator. Instead of exploring entirely new businesses, new products and services are explored in a closely collaborative environment.

One important feature of a digital factory is creating a “nerve center” that gathers all data that these teams will require. Ideally, much of this information is provided autonomously by using digital factory software such as Vanti.

Creating Your Own Digital Factory

Would your organization benefit from decreased development times, increased productivity, and rapid digital transformation? It might be time to create a digital factory.

Below are a few tips to help create a digital factory that spawns innovation and enables rapid digital transformation.

Keep the Mission Clear

It’s entirely too common that goals for a digital factory are created at a high level, but fail to be translated to concrete programs. This results in confused workers trying to make some magic happen without proper guidance from upper management.

Instead, create defined missions that are linked to the overall corporate strategy. Keep the missions clear, strategic, and grounded. How to work towards the mission, plus how it supports the business, should be apparent.

Create missions that are measurable in terms of value. A digital factory’s mission should not be focused on output or activity, as this can result in a focus on simply trying to look busy. Instead, aim to measure the value of what is being created.

Keep missions holistic. A broad mission gives teams the freedom to execute their own solutions and work beyond organization silos.

Collaboration Based on Purpose

Most companies understand the need to be cross functional when creating a digital factory industry 4.0 initiative. However, they fail to apply this understanding to practical business initiatives.

When it comes to creating digital factory teams, people should be allocated deliberately and thoughtfully. Management should think about the processes that will be given to each member of the team, as well. Since digital factory teams function differently than teams on the run-the-business side, teams typically consist of members from multiple organizational silos throughout the organization.

A carefully crafted team can become a powerful machine to accelerate product development and advance the factory digital transformation agenda. Take the time to intentionally create teams filled with processes that work together.

Carefully Balance Leadership and Autonomy

Teams in a digital factory need a sense of ownership over the work they do. Leadership should not micromanage, or even manage at all. Simply define the mission, then get out of the way. Let the team figure out how to solve the task at hand, which technologies to use, and when to deliver a working product.

For this to work, however, there must be a strong sense of team-ownership culture throughout the digital factory teams. If employees treat their roles as a mundane job, they may end up struggling to contribute to the team. Fostering the right culture for innovation is essential.

Drive Your Digital Transformation Forward With a Digital Factory

A digital factory can take manufacturers to the next level. They can continuously develop new processes, procedures, and products. Instead of the entire company focused on run-the-company tasks, a team dedicated to change-the-company tasks can catalyze incredible change.

Make sure that your team has all of the tools and access to the information that they need.

Manufacturing analytics, made possible by Vanti, will grant digital factory teams with great insights into how they can digitally transform the manufacturing operation.

Are you ready to take your manufacturing analytics to the next level? Get in touch with our team of predictive specialists today to get started.