Cold thinking under the tide of digital transformation of China’s manufacturing industry

Cold thinking under the tide of digital transformation of China’s manufacturing industry

Since the advent of the German Industry 4.0 theory, the five years have passed in a hurry. Theories surrounding intelligence, digitization, and the transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry are changing with each passing day. Even higher-level and more mysterious concepts, so that “not enough fresh vocabulary” has become the biggest bottleneck restricting the development of intelligent manufacturing. However, along the way, behind the hustle and bustle and glitz, how many companies have truly achieved substantial improvement by practicing the road of digitalization has always been a topic of different opinions in the market.

Not long ago, the author happened to be involved in an internal project at work, and the task was to develop a simplified digital maturity assessment model. The evaluation model asks questions around the six dimensions of “strategic planning, organizational management, system integration, production site, data management, and digital application” (as shown in Figure 1), and quantitatively evaluates the answers provided by the enterprise, and then analyzes the enterprise Based on the current level of digital development, and based on this, it provides customized recommendations to help companies grasp the best entry point and action direction for digitalization.

In order to assist the activities of colleagues in the marketing department, but did not expect a single stone to cause a thousand waves, in less than two weeks after the public release, a total of more than 2,000 companies participated in the evaluation, and the popularity was beyond everyone’s expectations.

After careful study and statistical analysis of more than 2,000 valid evaluation questionnaires, a volume of reports depicting the digital development process of China’s manufacturing industry has a panoramic view, including exciting inferences, thought-provoking findings, and more. Thought-provoking questions and embarrassing facts, from this point of view, it is more like a mirror, reflecting the world of China’s manufacturing industry.

Compared with the lofty ideals of “realizing flexible production, innovating business models, and integrating into the digital ecosystem of the industry” in the past, more companies now expect to achieve “improving operational efficiency, reducing costs, and improving product quality” through digitalization. More pragmatic and rational ‘s demands. Obviously, in the increasingly fierce market competition, it is far more important to consolidate the foundation and cultivate the originality than to seek the new.

When talking about the pain points in the process of promoting digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing upgrade, “enterprise management, organizational structure and functional settings cannot effectively promote related work”, “I don’t know how to effectively combine business to formulate related strategies and roadmaps”, and ” The lack of systematic planning in the early stage leads to continuous rework of subsequent projects” far more than the pain caused by “no money” to the enterprise.

In the image, the author seems to have an insight into the secret that this humble digital enterprise evaluation model makes enterprises so keen – the increasingly clear lighthouse ahead and the lost way into the sea of ​​smoke, making enterprises at a loss in the process of digital transformation. Granted, there is nothing more anxiety-provoking than being overwhelmed with enthusiasm. If you add the laughing fangs that you didn’t discuss in the fog, then for enterprises, it is tantamount to countless stumbling blocks on the digital road that is already full of thorns. Wish it was impossible.

All of these are highly consistent with what the author has learned in the process of in-depth communication with more than 100 manufacturing enterprises that are eager to carry out digital transformation in recent years, and conducting on-the-spot investigations.

In fact, digital transformation is not a one-off transformation, and there are very few successful people in the transformation. This is in stark contrast to the industry 4.0 and intelligent manufacturing frenzy in the current market. Enterprises obviously need more calm and rational thinking in terms of digital transformation. The “take it for granted” theory of pseudo-experts lacking a practical basis can be used as a chatter after a meal, but it is obviously useless when used to guide practical practice.

The development level of different industries in China’s manufacturing industry is uneven, and there is a huge disparity between individual enterprises. Enterprises at different stages of development are common. This situation determines that there is no standard answer to digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing upgrade solutions. The characteristics, the actual development level of the enterprise and the business needs are tailored.

Here, the author is willing to take the risk of the world, and is willing to combine the six dimensions of the evaluation model to share with you what I have seen and heard in my work and my real insights, in the hope that more manufacturing companies can learn from this and learn from each other. , on the road of digitalization, we can more steadily seek truth.

Strategic planning is highly valued, and implementation is lost and weak

More and more companies are beginning to realize the importance of digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing upgrade. Many companies regard it as an important part of their corporate strategy, or even in their medium and long-term strategic development plans, but they can be put into practice. There are very few practitioners. The reason is that, except for a few cases of formalism to deal with errands, more aspirants are trapped by the correct way and method, and do not know how to connect theory with practice.

In fact, whether it is digital transformation or intelligent manufacturing upgrade, it is not a traditional technological transformation or on-site improvement, but a comprehensive transformation and upgrade covering various aspects such as corporate strategy, management, organization, and operation. It is a top-down process. Complex systems engineering, which is advanced step by step, usually covers a large number of innovative practices, which also means greater implementation risks.

It is difficult for most enterprises to formulate a systematic and practical strategic plan and implement it effectively. The few companies that have successfully achieved digital transformation mostly rely on “external brains” with digital transformation consulting and planning capabilities.

Another important reason why digital transformation has few successes is the barriers of thinking. Traditional cognition generally believes that only tangible objects are valuable. Knowledge and insights are invisible and intangible. Of course, they should be cheap or even free. However, for digital and intelligent manufacturing, the most valuable is intangible knowledge and ideas. And planning, and the biggest sadness is to buy all the software and hardware required for intelligent manufacturing, but it is unable to plan and design intelligent manufacturing strategies and technical solutions that can be implemented on the ground.

What’s more, it’s hard to prevent that even if you think of relying on Outbrain, it still doesn’t mean success, because choosing “Outbrain” as a partner may seem simple, but in fact it is a minefield with many dangers and demons. , Everyone claims to be the omnipotent Xuanmen Zhengzong, and a few people’s leather bag companies dare to say that their level resounds throughout the universe…

Here, the author ventures to provide you with several criteria for choosing an “external brain” as a reference:

1. Rich experience in digital and intelligent manufacturing consulting planning and implementation

2. Has its own technical verification system, which can pass continuous technical verification to provide guarantee for the implementation of the project

3. Dare to commit to closed-loop key indicator (KPI) assessment

If everyone thinks it makes sense, just believe it, and if you think it has other intentions, you can laugh it off.

Absence of a dedicated digital team and imperfect talent training system

The key to strategy lies in execution, and the key to execution lies in organization and talents. Cultivating and building a team with digital transformation capabilities and experience is the driving force for enterprises to continue digital transformation. At present, among the manufacturing enterprises that the author has visited and learned about, there are not a few people who pay attention to and attach importance to talent training, but less than half of them can actually implement the plan according to the plan, and even fewer can form a training system and continue to advance. .

From the perspective of organizational structure, companies that are already well versed in digital transformation have, without exception, set up teams dedicated to digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing. ) in a leadership role dedicated to advancing the digital transformation of the enterprise.

According to past practical experience, more than 90% of all manufacturing enterprises that have successfully achieved digital transformation, or are able to promote digital transformation relatively smoothly, have “dedicated intelligent manufacturing departments”. As an important internal and external interface, this department is specially responsible for coordinating and promoting the overall digital transformation of the enterprise.

The awareness of system deployment is beginning to take shape, and the degree of integration is generally low

With the increasing complexity of the manufacturing process and the market’s increasing demands for product attributes, the uncertainty in the production process has greatly increased. An information system that covers the complete value chain and can be seamlessly integrated can effectively reduce the cost of research and development. , manufacturing, logistics and the uncontrollability of the operation process, thereby reducing costs, improving efficiency, ensuring product quality, accelerating product iteration, shortening order delivery, meeting individual customization needs, and ultimately enhancing the comprehensive competitiveness of enterprises.

Enterprise informatization construction and the integration of industrialization and industrialization have long been common topics, but the actual situation of enterprise informatization development is not satisfactory. Transmission still needs to rely heavily on manual labor, and even the cases where each system is closed to each other to form information islands can be found everywhere.

The embarrassment encountered by enterprises in system integration is also due to the various bricks and mortars who rely on translating foreign language materials, creating various new vocabulary and drawing flowcharts on PPT to fool laymen. A misunderstanding that is easy for manufacturing companies to enter is that they think that smart manufacturing can be realized by purchasing all the equipment and software authorizations drawn in the so-called smart manufacturing architecture diagram. But in fact, both hardware and software are just tools, and which ones to purchase does not depend on the functions of these tools, but must be selected according to the needs of enterprise business development. The purpose is not to collect all advanced functions, but to provide enterprises with Operation development provides the most effective support. It is not enough to have various isolated IT systems and OT systems. More importantly, it is necessary to focus on the entire value chain from the perspective of business needs, and to realize the integration and interconnection of various systems.

The overall production efficiency is low, and the management system is relatively weak

A higher level of automation is an important foundation and necessary condition for enterprises to go digital. At the same time, the higher the standardization of the production site, the higher the efficiency of data collection and information transmission, and the easier it is to realize digitization. However, the reality is that, except for a few leading industries such as automobile manufacturing and high-end electronics manufacturing, the automation degree of most manufacturing industries is not high, which reflects the process maturity, standardization degree and There is still a lot of room for improvement in production efficiency, and the digital transformation of enterprises needs to be carried out in a targeted manner based on core needs and existing hardware foundations.

At the same time, there are very few existing factories with complete and unified management standards such as low-level industrial control automation and industrial communication. Historically, a large number of different brands of equipment and systems based on different standards coexist, which seriously affects efficiency. , enterprises’ awareness of the importance of “standardization” in digital transformation and intelligent manufacturing upgrade still needs to be further improved.

In addition, based on the group’s overall security strategy, there are very few enterprises that have a complete network information security protection system at the production site. Although today’s enterprises have a basic understanding of the significance of information security in the digital and networked era, but in the In practice, the defense level is generally low. With the advent of the industrial Internet era, the deployment of industrial information security is imminent.

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Published on 09/20/2022