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Digital manufacturing: The importance of smart connected products

  • Posted on August 18, 2022
  • Estimated reading time 4 minutes
Smart connected products

There are 3 types of enterprises today: ones that don’t have good access to relevant data, ones that are inundated in data but lack insight and, finally, ones that have both data and the insight derived from it. This last group supports an additional split between the ones that are using the insight to drive a continuous organization wide change process - adapting to win vs the laggards, who are OK with generating siloed solutions - just trying to cope and see another day/quarter/fiscal year pass by until they are forced to make yet another change. While this applies to any organization and industry sector, to maintain focus, we will concentrate on manufacturing.

At Avanade, our Industry X service includes solutions for smart connected products, where the X signifies the constant change characteristic, for connecting the physical with the digital components of an organization. If that was not complex enough, every C-level leader acknowledges that change will not happen by decree, or just in the one proverbial department where “people get it” – it has to be across the board: people need to understand the reason why, the impact this will have on their future, the role they need to play, and “come towards it” as opposed to “it chasing them”. Clearly, a battle of the minds. And one that few, if any manufacturing operations out there can afford to lose.

Even the most successful organizations with vast pools of human and financial resources understand they can’t do it all. As you scale down, this becomes an irrefutable statement, an axiom. Regardless of if you are a client, customer or consumer, this rings true and we serve them all through our global mission to deliver excellence through the power of people and technology.

Where exactly do connected devices fit in this strategy?
They are an integral part in generating the data that is needed to create the insights which themselves are then used to decide the action that drives the organization on the right path. The range of these is truly mind boggling: from a simple battery operated sensor in remote farm field to a smart label on a mission critical parcel making its way through the supply chain all the way to complex robots and systems of systems like assembly lines where there are hundreds of connected devices working together to create one stream of data, derive insight and, using AI, make recommendations or even take proactive action.

A smart connected device starts at the level of a computer chip and the CAD blueprint for the physical shape and, from there, as hardware, software and AI get added, it reaches its final initial form. I say initial because these days, the journey continues after this step with devices getting a constant stream of updates which, in essence, generate a new generation of device and extend their useful lifetime.

Enter sustainability. With all kinds of pressures on limited resources, organizations can’t afford to not consider the environmental, social and economic consequences of their operations and while I am proud to share that we are doing our part, I am even more excited about the fact that we incorporate this care about the sustainability in all our client engagements.

What else is required?
Of course, connected devices alone are not enough, the now infamous digital twin and the overused but still very relevant of our zeitgeist digital transformation concepts are the other 2 members in this 3-member Industry X team. I strongly recommend you read a great piece on digital twin from my colleague Chris Lowndes and an excellent summary on manufacturing transformation from my colleague Marko Weisse.

We will meet you where you are and partner with you on this journey where you will have full control at all times. Take a peek at a few of our previous engagements at BDR Thermea and SOPHIA Biesse. I particularly like these because they drive home the point that ALL manufacturing operations can and should benefit from the Industry X approach, of constantly adapting to win and understanding that the only constant moving on is the change process itself.

If Industry X would be a piece of music, smart connected devices would be the composer, digital twin the soloist and digital transformation the conductor. I will leave you with this quote from a childhood hero of mine: “All fixed set patterns are incapable of adaptability or pliability. The truth is outside of all fixed patterns.” -- Bruce Lee

We can help: with 50,000 trailblazing colleagues with the deepest expertise in Microsoft solutions, ability to draw additional resources as needed from our corporate parents - the 674,000 Accenture and 181,000 Microsoft colleagues, we are well positioned to provide a bespoke solution regardless of the stage of manufacturing transformation cycle you may be in.

Learn more about smart connected devices and our Industry X services.

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