The digital path to growth – the launch of our new editorial series

Today @AuManufacturing launches its latest editorial series – the digital path to growth. Here Peter Roberts explains what you can expect.

Digitisation has been so often written and spoken about that it is a term in danger of becoming commonplace.

Yet there is no doubt that this century is the era of data, and that collecting analysing and taking action on the basis of data in real time is the future for manufacturing.

For Australian manufacturing, data and industry 4.0 technologies combined with new techniques such as 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality and robotics and automation offer a way forward, a way to reduce the impact of our high cost structures and compete globally from our island continent.

But there are formidable obstacles standing in the way of the transition of our mostly smaller manufacturing firms to global scale.

On a recent visit to a rapidly changing SME manufacturing business I was shocked to see on the factory manager’s desk a pile of job specification sheets with attached drawings – these were the jobs to be done by individual operators on that day.

The company was from the outside very go ahead, moving towards manufacturing systems rather than parts and making forays into the defence sector – yet its operators still worked from physical drawings on essentially hand controlled machines and equipment.

Among larger Australian SMEs it is not hard to find case studies of leadership in digital transformation – and @AuManufacturing will profile a number in this new series over the next two weeks.

The challenge for every business lies in being able to scale technology-enabled transformations.

Larger organisations might have the bandwidth and financial resources to deploy multiple Industry 4.0 technologies to reduce the cost of production whereas smaller firms might invest in one specialised technology such as additive manufacturing which offers them a competitive advantage to grow their niche sector.

As David Chuter argues here in our digital paths to growth series, the reason these companies break through the size barrier that seems to keep so many Australian SME’s small, is the ambition, willingness and appetite of leaders and owners to seize transformation opportunities.

But digital itself is not a cure and will not help systems that are not well set up or working.

As Chuter told @AuManufacturing: “On a visit to one of the UK Catapult Centres I heard the phrase ‘if you apply digital to a broken thing, you will have a digital broken thing’.”

Our latest editorial series – the digital path to growth – over the next two weeks will feature a range of thought leaders and case studies designed to stimulate thinking and map a path forward for small companies to become medium-sized, and for medium sized Australian SMEs to become large.

In this we are grateful to have the support of a company, SAP that is at the centre of today’s technology revolution and is the market leader in enterprise application software including ERP software.

Founded in 1972, the company aimed to create standard enterprise software that integrated all business processes and enabled data processing in real time.

Today capturing, analysing and taking action on data in real time has never been more important, and SAP has grown to more than 100,000 employees worldwide offering an end-to-end suite of applications and services that are used by our increasingly intelligent enterprises.

Picture: IMCRC

@AuManufacturing’s editorial series – the digital path to growth – is brought to you with the support of SAP enterprise application software.

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