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Arun Dharbal
9 Feb 2023

Capgemini and Oracle enable transformation for companies throughout the manufacturing sector.

The manufacturing sector is in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution – also known as Industry 4.0. Numerous technology advances are behind a massive change in how companies operate. This is creating new opportunities throughout the sector – but the speed and scope of these changes also present significant challenges. Executives need to understand what these innovations are, what they mean for manufacturing, and how to pivot the enterprise to take advantage of them.

Sensor supremacy

On the modern factory floor, every machine is a connected machine – part of the Internet of Things. The technology may range from simple sensors that measure and report machine performance to sophisticated computer-vision systems. Connected machines generate a continuous stream of data – not only for remote monitoring and operation, but also for analysis to identify issues and improve processes.

One of the most exciting applications of this data is using it to build a digital twin – a virtual model of a machine that is continuously updated with data from the physical counterpart it represents. Engineers can use this digital twin for many things – from modeling potential process changes without disrupting the production line, to training workers in a safe, controlled environment.

Tech-powered production

Robots have become familiar sights on the factory floor, but these are now being joined by technologies that blend digital and mechanical assets in new ways.

Cobots – collaborative robots – are intelligent machines designed to safely and directly interact with people in a shared space. They may even augment human operators by, for example, enabling them to lift and carry more.

Additive manufacturing tools such as 3D printers are another example, one that is transforming the manufacturing process by changing the relationship between design, components manufacture, and assembly.

Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and data analytics are helping manufacturers in many ways – from improving maintenance schedules and reducing machinery failures, to delivering product and process insights that inform better decision-making.

Where the new meets the old

Despite these innovations, manufacturing companies still rely on age-old methods. Traditional functions such as planning, supply chains, production, and quality assurance remain vital, but how these functions are performed is definitely changing. For example, with Industry 4.0 planning is no longer done offline, before production begins. Instead, planning is much more fluid – assessing data from the factory floor and making decisions in real time to optimize production.

As a consequence, the vendors that powered the first wave of technology-enabled manufacturing are creating new solutions that enable companies to leverage the benefits of Industry 4.0. In my work at Capgemini, I help manufacturing clients implement and optimize solutions from Oracle – the world’s top provider of enterprise software, including advanced solutions for business transformation. Capgemini configures the Oracle platform to address the needs of specific micro-vertical segments within the discrete manufacturing space and then develops extensions to fill in any gaps.

Industry 4.0 leaders at manufacturing enterprises often raise two major questions in discussions.

Capital costs

The first is related to the capital required to make this transformation, since even a small factory represents a huge investment in machinery. I encourage manufacturers to engage with their machinery vendors to determine what upgrades, versus replacements, are possible to the shop floor.

As well, there are significant advantages to be realized by transitioning from a capital-intensive model of ownership to an OpEx model. This has already proven successful in the IT realm, where on-demand models such as cloud computing are relieving companies of the burden of on-premises ownership, while also ensuring they’re able to take advantage of regular upgrades.

Finally, I encourage companies to focus on the benefits. For example, deploying digital twins can significantly improve component quality, thereby reducing the cost of failed parts.

Resistance to change

The second issue is related to the nature of manufacturing itself. Manufacturing is an old industry and, until recently, was extremely labor intensive. It has also developed a conservative approach to operations – especially on the shop floor, where two comments frequently expressed are, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” and “But we’ve always done it this way.” Change management must be carefully orchestrated and consider the need to minimize production disruption.

Embracing transformation must start at the top, which is why Capgemini offers a one-day advisory session for the leaders of manufacturing companies. During these sessions, we discuss in detail the ideas I’ve outlined here, and provide executives with answers about how to proceed. These sessions provide a good starting point as executives decide how best to tackle the transition to Industry 4.0.

I would be pleased to schedule such a session for your company, to discuss how Capgemini and Oracle can help you successfully implement this important transformation of your business.

Meet the author:

Arun Dharbal

Senior Vice President – Oracle Practice Leader at Capgemini