Digital Transformation

6 minute read

Published:

This post covers phases of the digital transformation (from Industrial Digital Transformation, by Shyam Varan Nath, Ann Dunkin, Mahesh Chowdhary, Nital Patel - Packt Publishing)

Phases of the digital transformation journey - automotive industry

  • Gas to electric cars
  • Use of driver-assisted technologies on its way to the different levels of autonomous driving
  • This journey continues and next, we may witness unmanned taxis and possibly flying taxis in the future
  • In this example of autonomous cars, it is important to think through the breadth of the impact.
  • As autonomous cars become mainstream, it has an impact on how roads, traffic signs, and even cities and airports are designed.
  • Likewise, it may have a profound economic impact not only on the automotive industry, but also on the utility providers, due to electric vehicles, and finally, on employment via the automobile and the trucking industry.
  • Finally, auto insurance and the department of motor vehicles would have to adapt to this change as well.
  • Hence, a technology-led digital transformation of the automobile has a profound socio-economic and political impact.
  • The change management and phased approach applies not only to the technical aspect of the transformation, but also to the change of the business landscape as well as the societal impact.
  • Future chapters will revisit the presented methodologies along with specific examples of where they have been applied and a discussion on the approach and methodology to ensure success in the transformation activity.
Generic steps involved in a new product introduction

Concept

  • initial ideation stage
    • helps define the requirements for a new product.
  • Digitization
    • can help here by providing machine learning solutions that combine unstructured data to look for key customer trends.
  • Several suppliers offer platforms
    • for example, analyzing social media messages to gauge positive or negative sentiments related to features in existing products.
  • In addition, given the lead times to move from concept to production ramp, it is in the company’s interest to forecast product feature sets that will be of interest when the product is in general availability, as well as the expected sales volumes.
  • Machine learning and data mining can provide significant benefits in this area.

Design

  • Digitization can help
    • design process by allowing greater collaboration between designers.
  • Collaborative tools
    • that allow designers across the globe to work together on a common platform
    • even being able to share and edit drawings concurrently – goes a long way in speeding up the design process.
  • digitization provides the means to reuse components already in use by a company
    • limits later headaches on raw material stock-keeping unit (SKU) management, as well as adds to the economies of scale to keep costs down.

Prototype and validation

  • Rapid prototyping
    • is key to evaluating the design for fitness and functionality, and to make any final revisions before the product is released to manufacturing.
  • Additive manufacturing
    • can play a key role in the rapid prototyping of mechanical parts.
    • For electronics, there are special companies that specialize in small-batch orders with a quick turnaround to get samples back to the customer quickly.
  • These companies leverage computer-integrated manufacturing to quickly reconfigure tooling between customer orders.

Customer trials, compliance and regulatory testing

  • Send prototype samples to customers
    • the manufacturer can get rapid feedback on new product features.
  • As Steve Jobs once said, “People do not know what they want until you show it to them” (see Isaacson, W. Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2011).
  • Rapid prototyping provides such an avenue.
    • Customer trials using prototypes can be sped up by employing technologies such as digital twins.
    • These can be employed to conduct tests under extreme environmental conditions, which would help guide the design to meet regulatory requirements.

Manufacturing

  • Although this is called out as a single item here, this encompasses several areas, each with its own sets of challenges and opportunities for digitization.
  • Manufacturing comprises not just the factory or network of factories, but the entire supply chain network. This area alone is teeming with digitization opportunities

Aim of digital transformation:

  • faster time to market with a cheaper cost per unit;
  • managing and reducing the environmental footprint; and
  • reducing risk to production by enabling digitization of the supply chain and the workforce.

Aim of a commercial enterprise

  • maximize profit, revenue, and market share and
  • Digitization technologies implemented correctly provide opportunities for visibility, efficiency, and agility.

How will industrial digital transformation impact the future of work?

  • who will be responsible for driving the strategy, as well as the execution of the transformation.
  • The growth of automation and the use of ubiquitous AI will profoundly change how we work.
  • Cobots, or collaborative robots, where humans work alongside robots in factory settings, are indicator of the future of work.
  • Remote conferencing working technologies, such as Zoom and Webex during the COVID-19 crisis is another example of the changing nature of work that is possible in extreme scenarios.
  • Telemedicine grew as well in this period and the regulatory landscape was relaxed
  • The gig economy (free market system where organizations and independent workers engage in short-term work arrangements) has been possible due to transformations in related industries.
  • As we move to autonomous vehicles, such as autonomous trucks, will it disrupt the profession of truck drivers?
  • Interestingly, during the first half of 2020, longhaul truck drivers have been in very high demand for the distribution of food and grocery to the retail industry.
  • On a related note, over the last decade, we have seen atlas maps move to apps. Apps powered by maps and geolocation information have really transformed the transportation industry.
  • Truck drivers can look for the fastest route and avoid restrictions for commercial vechicles, such as a bridge with weight restrictions or a highway overpass with vehicle height restrictions, via such apps.
  • What is Digital Twin
    • digital representation of a physical object, process or service.
    • digital replica of an object in the physical world, such as a jet engine or wind farms, or even larger items such as buildings or even whole cities.
    • can also be used to replicate processes in order to collect data to predict how they will perform.
    • A digital twin is, in essence, a computer program that uses real world data to create simulations that can predict how a product or process will perform. These programs can integrate the internet of things (Industry 4.0), artificial intelligence and software analytics to enhance the output.