Data as the foundation stone for digital continuity

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Manufacturing expert, Guy Williamson, reveals the challenges and opportunities that arise across organisations within engineering, manufacturing and services, when using data to accelerate product development and new business models

The manufacturing industry is experiencing a fundamental transformation, with rapid developments in technology enabling both the creation of new products, and the “smartening” of legacy products to increase their lifecycle. New business models have contributed towards the shift from “product”, to “product and service”, to solely “service”. However, organisations need to ensure they have financial transparency and visibility across the entire product lifecycle, to ensure success with new business models as a result of these “smart connected” products.

Organisations are attempting to implement digital continuity, by data-sharing across the product lifecycle, which can lead to a unique, authoritative and consistent stream of information running across the organisation, from engineering to manufacturing and services. However, around 60% of manufacturers are struggling to execute this digital continuity throughout the entire product lifecycle. Currently, engineering processes do not support seamless data sharing across different functions, and this lack of integration between legacy systems, restricts effective mining of data necessary for product development and improvement, supply chain, manufacturing quality, sales effectiveness and service optimisation.

Our latest research revealed that organisations are unable to synchronise the activities within different functions at the beginning of the design stage, and they find it difficult to create, access and reuse information on how a product is designed, manufactured and serviced. Therefore, whilst digital investment has increased significantly since 2014, manufacturers are struggling to tap data from products and customers to drive innovation. In fact, only a quarter of manufacturers are using data to deliver actionable insights to encourage product innovation.

There are challenges which digital continuity can help overcome. For example, the lack of continuity between engineering and sales configuration engines leads to customers configuring cars that are not actually available, and customers will therefore seek more digital savvy brands. This doesn’t demonstrate a threat to these types of organisations, but more an opportunity to increase their digital continuity, which provides benefits to the digital engineering, sales and marketing, and manufacturing areas of the organisation.

You can find out more about our digital manufacturing services here.

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