Increasingly agile, increasingly smart manufacturing

EricSchaeffer picOne of the many challenges industrial manufacturers face is determining how to maintain agility when it comes to producing products and meeting demand. Lack of agility—or manufacturing inflexibility—can result in time-consuming product changes that slow time-to-market and limit a company’s ability to compete.

Many companies struggle with manufacturing flexibility. They fail to properly manage commercial or technical changes prompted by production issues, missing parts or engineering modifications. As such, a dedicated, agile manufacturing solution can provide the flexibility needed for configuration management and make it possible for local plants to personalize products and support maintenance services.

Or course…a dedicated, agile manufacturing solution can be tricky to develop.

At the recent Hannover Messe 2016 event, we at Accenture, in partnership with Dassault Systèmes, unveiled a proof-of-concept manufacturing solution for large industrial clients that may be struggling with agility.  Our concept shows how digital technologies can improve operational efficiency and create increasingly agile manufacturing in industries such as heavy industrial equipment and aerospace. 

This is a three-phase solution that harnesses digital technologies to create a link between engineering and the manufacturing shop floor for non-repetitive manufacturing companies, while providing continuity for product assembly, including the sequence in which parts are built, and offering greater insight into the process for engineers and the assembly staff.

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Phase 1-- Create the theoretical assembly sequence required to build a product such as a train, airplane or digger.

Phase 2—Help develop, optimize and quickly update an operational plan and schedule for each worker on the shop floor.

Phase 3—Provide a digital display of the schedule for each worker, enabling them to constantly reference it.

This solution replaces what has often been a paper-based process by providing a new digital link between the engineering team and the shop floor, enabling real-time changes in a schedule. This agile-manufacturing solution also provides insight and risk-assessment into any proposed changes to a product or assembly schedule before they are made, reducing down-time and increasing manufacturing agility.

The Industrial Internet of Things is shepherding a new era of increasingly productive, sustainable and cost-effective processes for manufacturers, which will result in a better experience for customers and a stronger position in the global marketplace for those smart manufacturers that adopt them.

Eric Schaeffer is senior managing director and head of Accenture’s industrial practice. Reach him at eric.schaeffer@accenture.com