Enterprise-Wide Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Industry
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Enterprise-Wide Digital Transformation in the Manufacturing Industry

By Derek Harper, CIO, Faurecia [EPA:EO]

Digital transformation is taking every industry vertical by storm. The manufacturing space too, has embarked on this journey of change with increasing investments, research, and development of solutions. At Faurecia, we are implementing this change with standard solutions and technologies that are available in the market as well as those that we develop internally. With initiatives of digital transformation, there has also been a tremendous emphasis on data and how to effectively leverage the available data while also acquiring data for future initiatives to result in significant data-driven decisions. In this context, the most challenging aspect is discerning which data is useful, especially with the availability of huge amounts of unchartered information. We believe that the presence of a standard ERP system across all sites is key in identifying nifty information. It also becomes important to bring various subsets of data under a single canopy to drive value-based business operations. With our major focus in manufacturing, we have put together visualization tools to have a clear understanding of the obtainable data in manufacturing sites and utilize the data to improve the quality of the throughput. The shift in the manufacturing space from legacy methodologies to a more modern outlook is happening only because of data and its appropriate use but is greatly owed to the disruptive technologies, including AI, neural networks, and predictive analytics. Apart from this, a perfect combination of process engineering, mechanical engineering, and IT, along with the right algorithms, plays a crucial role in analyzing the available data and predict business performance.

Improving Machine Vision and Automation within Manufacturing

In the manufacturing space, machine vision is an important aspect that ties together technology and methods for imaging-based scrutiny and analysis of mechanical applications, including, automatic inspection, process control, and robot guidance. In enhancing machine vision within manufacturing units, Faurecia has embarked on two major initiatives. On the one hand, they provide a visual inspection that allows minute scrutiny of quality defects, like a scratch or a dent, as well as a close check and verification of the correct parts of the machine. An automated system backs this functionality of enhanced visual inspection with visual analytics. For this purpose, we have a computer that processes the images, understands it, and helps operators to identify the shortcomings and resolve those effectively, in spite of the varying degrees of complexities. The other project we are looking into is the aspect of automatic bin-picking for most mechanical parts. At Faurecia, we pick the components and place it into a kit before sending it off to the assembly line. The mechanism we use in this activity allows us to get a view of the parts present in the bin along with robotic controls that pick the parts from the bin and place it where required. It is crucial to ensure that one part at a time is picked from the bin and placed in a shadow box container. The bin picking process can be fully automated only with a proper system integration project with a combination of various advanced technologies.

Enhancing Tools and Technologies to Steer the Manufacturing Industry Ahead

With several years of experience in the manufacturing and automotive space, one of the aspects we look into is to buildable and well-functioning IT leadership teams along with business leadership. We always strive to be swift in formulating the right strategies while getting a complete grasp of the trends and requirements of the industry and improve our solutions and services with technology. We not only emphasize on implementing technologies but enhancing the tools within our organization to be used to its full potential. We also keep in mind the changes in the culture, workforce, and the processes that are used to leverage technologies. Our leadership strategies center on the initiative to go faster in rolling out our services and solutions and also make sure to identify the technologies that best suit our purpose while providing the highest value to clients.

"We are taking automation and development in the manufacturing landscape one step at a time, to create a connected machine vision central building blocks to bring about systematic growth within the manufacturing space"

Additionally, I believe, me being an extrovert is an added edge that allows me to communicate with a lot of different people with ease, both internally as well as with clients. This gives me an upper hand in understanding the length to which any solution is successful and how effective a technology is, while also having a clear mind about what’s working and what’s not. All this information puts me in a favorable position to better our operations and improve on the aspects we lack in. Sales and marketing too are now crucial to enhance IT leadership at present. With the deployment of several tools and technologies, there is also a growing need to understand the technology and its potential value in boosting the business. I am also a great advocate of direct conversations and communication is the key to the success of any organization and for the realization of business goals.

Looking ahead into the future, industry leaders like myself should work toward doing away with the repetitive tasks and economically challenging tasks within the workflow and bring about complete automation. Another aspect that organizations need to take heed is to have in place an efficient and robust system for transportation and removal of waste from the manufacturing sites. It is only with the automation of manufacturing processes that organizations can revamp into smart factories of the future. The inherent significance of predictive analysis will also play a key role in analyzing and predicting the lifetime of a machine so that we can work toward providing spare parts in time for the machines to run smoothly. We also should focus on collecting valuable insights from the machine as well as the people working in the organizations. All this data is streamlined to help reduce inventories and cost of production. We are moving toward bringing out the potential of data analysis to leverage useful data throughout organizations to improve and bring value to our processes internally as well as providing value to our clients. We are taking automation and development in the manufacturing landscape one step at a time, to create a connected machine vision central building blocks to bring about systematic growth within the manufacturing space.

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