As industry such as manufacturing moves into the 4IR era, organisations are increasingly taking steps to modernise their operations through digitalisation. Digitalisation combines traditional manufacturing methods with cutting-edge technological advancements.

A recent report: Driving Innovation in Manufacturing Industry through Digitalisation notes that organisations’ ultimate objective is to increase profitability while maintaining quality through cost reductions. “Efficiency and competition are also enhanced. The question of “when” manufacturing should digitize is no longer “if,” as the business environment becomes more and more digital,” says the report.

However, it is also this prospect of moving towards a digital, modernised environment that is preventing organisations from taking the next steps. There is often resistance to both change and the capital outlay associated with the digitalisation and modernisation of infrastructure.

Explains Etienne du Plessis, Partner Channel Manager at Schneider Electric: “Attitudes towards digitalisation vary. We often find that those on the ground like plant operators are hesitant to implement unfamiliar technology due to pressure to keep the factory running smoothly.

“They believe the modernisation process will disrupt critical operations and cause interoperability issues and even downtime. However, with right consultative approach these hurdles can be crossed.  For example, demonstrating how older equipment can be upgraded by using advanced modules without major redesign or construction is a major step in the right direction” he explains.

Du Plessis also likens the digitisation and modernisation process to the adoption of smartphones.  “Today, it is very difficult to imagine our lives without the daily benefits and features of smartphones.  This is why the human element should never be overlooked.  Effective change management strategies that tangible demonstrate the benefits of digitalisation and modernisation will ensure a smooth transition and encourage buy-in from stakeholders,” he notes.

During the consultative approach, it’s important to demonstrate the process and benefits that come with digitalisation and modernisation:

  • Enhanced efficiency, visibility and productivity – integrating modern digital tools and technologies with legacy systems can streamline processes and improve visibility which lead to accurate data analysis. This can lead to increased efficiency and productivity across various business functions.
  • Data-driven decision making allows organisations to tap into the wealth of information in legacy systems and combine it with real-time analytics.  This allows for improved short-and-long-term forecasting, strategies and decision making.
  • Allow organisations to offer personalised and seamless customer experiences through channels like mobile apps, websites, and social media, enhancing customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Agility and innovation – by modernising and digitalising, organisations can respond more swiftly to market changes and innovations. This adaptability is crucial for staying competitive in fast-paced industries.

“Ultimately, our comprehensive consultative solution covers a wide spectrum. Firstly, our approach enhances plant efficiency, manages equipment lifecycle, and offers asset performance management. Secondly, we provide control, making their operations more efficient and sustainable. Lastly, our holistic system ensures a more stable infrastructure for the future,” says du Plessis.

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