Digitization playing major role in the process industries
By : Editorial Team - (Spicos)

The opportunities offered by a successful digital transformation are tremendous. Virtually eliminating manual interventions enables repeat-ability and pin-point accuracy of the actual production of highest quality products with minimal raw waste. Digitalization is opening up brand-new opportunities for companies of all sizes to increase their efficiency, flexibility, and product quality and to customize their processes to an unprecedented degree. It’s clear that those who can quickly and successfully implement a digital transformation throughout their entire plant life cycle will have a definite competitive edge. As a partner to the process industries, Siemens supports its customers on their path to digitalization. Digital technologies will shape the future of a modernized process industry, ensuring global competitiveness, sustainability and jobs.

An alliance of eight sectors of the process industry (cement, ceramics, chemicals, engineering, minerals and ore, non-ferrous metals, steel and water) united under the SPIRE Public-Private Partnership  are already showing their first results in Europe. Digitizing will renew the EU process Industry competitiveness and will thus contribute to the EU’s priority to stimulate investment to create jobs. Digitization is essential along the entire value chain. Process industries transform raw materials into intermediates for manufacturing industries. Digitising process industry will allow improved and more flexible design and production processes capable to adapt to the increasing changes in the value chain. Digitized process industries will improve the energy and resource efficiency of the production processes in a timely and cost-effective manner. This can be done from the design phase, to the use of energy, resources and waste management. 

Rapidly growing digitalization has already been behind the changing face of different aspects of life and is now encroaching the boundaries of process manufacturing business models to revolutionize it in every possible way. The digital shift has played a vital role in bringing in the most awaited Industrial Revolution 4.0. The technological trends like the regenerative design and intelligent models are responsible to bring any type of product ideas into reality. Product innovation and changing customer’s expectations are the driving force towards the desperation to adopt digital technology for the manufacturing. The applications of cloud solutions enhance flexibility and scalability of operations has helped manufacturers to develop new service business models.

The dynamic nature of business operations is opening doors to vast opportunities for digital innovation to flourish and have offered new ways to satisfy customer requirements more efficiently. 

Right from product design to production planning, production engineering, production execution, and services, there is not even a single aspect of manufacturing which has remained untouched by the wisdom of digital innovation. Digitizing your various operations can lend you a plethora of business benefits in the long run.  It allows manufacturers to integrate and digitize their entire value chain – right from suppliers to vendors and distributors. Digitization has enormous scope in the manufacturing arena. 

1.Digital Factory Shop Floor– Digitizing the shop floor tools enable manufacturers to have a tight integration of resources over their physical as well as virtual shop-floors and various planning departments to optimize the material flows. Virtual Commissioning is a modern day tool to analyse and validate a product design, even before the product is actually manufactured. Just with the help of suitable software design, the manufacturers can know, whether the entire system, with its mechanical, electrical, and automation components, is working together as planned or not. The digitized shop floor drastically reduces the risks associated with unexpected product behaviour such as delays and increased costs in redesigning and reproducing from the scratch. It also enables manufacturers to digitize every landscape of production, but also minimize their inventory costs by optimizing and harmonizing their manufacturing processes.

2.Digital Product Design– Today there is a lot of emphasis on responding to dynamic market scenarios, hence digital tools are adopted to speed up stages of ideation, product development and testing to shorten time to market and reduce costs at the same time. The concept of Digital Twin is employed in the case where every product is unique and is designed keeping in mind the minutest customization requirements. The new product is quite similar to the basic core design but has some performance changes as per the customer’s need. The original product is first created virtually over the system as per the defined design and further tested for feasibility, simulation and validation of its performance. It needs the combination of advanced mechanics, multi-physics, electronics and software management to prior try and test a product before it’s released.

3.Digital Supply Chain Management– Making a shift towards a completely digital supply chain provided manufacturers with the ability to integrate vendors, external suppliers and even outsource entire functions of the value chain dynamically. Digital analytics help manufacturers to reduce working capital costs to a great extent. Thereby, eliminating interdepartmental dependencies and allowing them to operate and access data independently. Even managing Omni-channel of sales has become a child’s play for every manufacturer and every retailer. Digitally managing global supply networks to enable capacity optimization and load balancing across the entire supply chain. The digital touch of advanced analytics over logistics movements have facilitated new possibilities for manufacturers to connect and address global customers and offer localized products and services at even much-reduced cost.

4.Digital Marketing– Due to uninterrupted connectivity and digital market analysis tools, online marketing, social media promotion and e-commerce integration has transformed the business across the globe. Digital channels such as email marketing, web promotions, and online advertisements play a major role in creating a positive customer experience. Intelligent marketing insights help manufacturing companies in building long-term profitable customer relationships, thereby aid in building a clientele beyond boundaries.

5.Digital Sales & Services– When the production facilities of manufacturing units can be analysed digitally in real time, the manufacturers can easily provide feedback insights into the entire value chain for continuous sales optimization and improvements in post-sale services. Product benefits and promotional plans can be easily shared with customers via sophisticated social media platforms acting as sales podiums. Digitally integrated sales & services aid manufacturers in leveraging cross-selling opportunities and focus on customer solutions. Managing silos of customer data digitally over your smartphone or tablet have become a cakewalk for the sales team. Moreover, complex product demonstrations can be given by advanced mobile devices by your field sales force.

Now is just the right time for companies in the manufacturing industry to identify and exploit the potential in digitalization for sustained growth and development. With the Digital Enterprise Resource Planning software, all the technical prerequisites are taken care of. Effective use of digital tools might help organizations in realizing a high product value at lower costs of ownership through an integrated channel of product design and predictive maintenance. This wave of digital innovation is capable of providing companies of all sizes and from all industry verticals, the power to innovate dynamically and effectively.