Top strategies, bottom lines and implementing digital transformation

All digital transformation opportunities are based on how they will impact the bottom line.

In September, Bill Metz will speak about digital transformation strategies and implementation challenges at the third-annual Smart Industry conference in Chicago. Today the vice

Bill Metz 1

Richards Industries' Bill Metz

president of operations and engineering with Richards Industries provides a preview of his perspective. Take a look…

Smart Industry: What’s the key to identifying digital-transformation opportunities in operations? 

Bill: As a small manufacturing company, all opportunities are based, ultimately, on how they will impact the bottom line, either directly or indirectly through items such as improved customer service. If the digital solution doesn’t drive real productivity improvements in our operations then we are not interested. Better data without better action is really just another waste. 

Smart Industry: And what about implementing digital-transformation strategies? 

Bill: The goal is productivity and quality- improvement. We have gone to paperless access of work instructions, drawings, programs and routers. This saves time and money from the beginning of the process to shipment. It also ensures that we are using the most current information in all aspects impacting engineering, production, etc.

Smart Industry: Justifying investment in digital transformation can be tricky? Any tips?   

Bill: Our approach with justifying the machine-data-collection software solution for our 10 pilot machines (and then the next 19 machines) was a very conservative approach based on speaking with suppliers and other users. We felt we could do much better than the conservative approach with a 5% productivity improvement. And in fact, we far exceeded the initial justification. We have taken the same approach with the next phase—order data and personnel data management. This will be on the 29 machines referenced above, as well as 20 additional manual workstations. 

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  • Users want “actionable information”, not raw data, so this is what the analytics software must provide. What’s the difference? See explanation in this essay: The whole point of digital transformation is transformation of daily work processes to be data-driven. This means you have to manage change. Develop these new data-driven processes that digital technology enable. Condition-based. Performance-based. Training has to be provided to change behavior so people follow the new procedures. You have to explain to personnel why the procedures are changed, to convince them to use the new tools. People are often resistant to change, but once they have learnt the new tools they will see work is better.


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