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You Need a Digital Strategy (Part 1): Why Digital Strategy?

June 10, 2021 12:17:32 PM EDT

As in all industries, digitalization has virtually transformed the manufacturing landscape. There is not one company, plant, or site that does not make use of digital tools and programs for their reliability engineering.

But, if everyone in the industry is utilizing digital tools, what gives your company or team the edge in applying these technologies in an efficient, sustainable, and progressive way? We believe a digital strategy can provide that distinction.

Rather than haphazardly employing every digital program all at once, creating a digital strategy ensures that you choose the best tools for your company and use them in a way that empowers rather than overwhelms your reliability engineers. 

In this post, I’ll briefly unpack why I think you need a digital strategy, and in my next post, I’ll  give you five steps to develop your own plan. 

Why Digital?

There are an abundance of strategies out there, so why do you need a digital one?  As we mentioned before, digital tools are quickly determining the way companies manufacture just about everything. 

Take for example, advanced predictive maintenance (PdM), which enables machines to warn you before a problem occurs. Studies show that employing PdM has the potential to increase companies’ asset availability by 5 to 15 percent, and reduce maintenance costs by 18 to 25 percent.

Digitized sites and plants now communicate across online networks in real time. This means companies can “react during production to the availability of certain raw materials based on price, quality and other factors for optimal efficiency.” This real-time communication empowers teams to  adjust almost instantaneously to outside circumstances, saving them energy and resources. 

Digital technology has also given engineers on many plants the ability to create virtual twin replicas of their production lines to test and contrast new ideas, as well as tweak current methods. These digital simulations allow them to quickly find the most efficient processes without requiring any hard costs.

These tools are creating more sustainable solutions by reducing waste, improving communication across teams, and helping companies find the most efficient means to manufacture the highest quality products. Virtual, networked tools have been proven to increase productivity, but they also allow your reliability engineers to focus on more complicated or critical problems while technology handles the rest. 

Bottom line: If you’re a manager or leader in the manufacturing industry who plans to recruit and retain reliability engineers in today’s environment, you must think digitally. 

Why a Strategy? 

As we’ve seen, digital technology is the future of reliability engineering. The way to set yourself apart is by using this technology in a strategic way that is both progressive yet realistic, innovative yet practical. 

In talking with manufacturing leaders, I’ve learned that most recognize the need to take advantage of the digital realm, but they simply don’t know where to start. That’s why you need a strategy. 

A digital strategy provides a disciplined structure to using digital tools that is tailored  for your specific company or team. In creating a strategy, you evaluate a number of important aspects of your company, take stock of your current position, and make necessary adjustments. You then determine which initiatives should be pursued,  set goals within an outlined roadmap, and prescribe the means to accomplish those goals.

Two of my favorite philosophers argued for the importance of planning and strategy, albeit in slightly different ways:

King Solomon said, “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Proverbs 21:5).

Yogi Berra said it this way, “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.”

You need a strategy to understand where you’re headed and to ensure it’s a profitable destination.

To lead your teams well, you need to give them a compelling vision of the future and substantiate it with a reasonable, logical, and believable plan. A digital strategy is not a silver bullet, but it does provide a roadmap to help your company meet its objectives. Moreover, it is a powerful tool to rally others to join you in achieving these goals.

Does A Digital Strategy Solve Practical Problems?

While a digital strategy provides a broad vision plan for your company, it also helps you evaluate and solve tactical, or more immediate, problems.

By reviewing your site’s processes regularly and updating your digital strategy accordingly, you can begin to address root and recurring problems.

For example, where in the production process are materials wasted? How quickly are problems fixed and what types of problems take the longest time?  Where are opportunities to save money and increase uptime?  What are your most common root causes?  And, where do your engineers feel frustration? 

Also, a digital strategy asks you to evaluate the software, training, and coaching you provide to your engineers. Which systems are bottlenecks? Which training modules should you roll out broadly? How can you begin to offer more personalized coaching based on specific needs?

Create a Digital Strategy

A digital strategy is much more than a simple document outlining goals and initiatives; it’s a process and an opportunity to evaluate your company and improve its efficiency with your leadership team. 

Working in a digital world requires a new strategy. A customized digital strategy ensures you are using technology in a sustainable, relevant, and inspiring way. Implementing such a  plan certainly takes work, but it can produce rewards both in revenue and efficiency, as well as in employee loyalty and satisfaction. 

So, all that’s left to do is create a digital strategy! Find out how to build your own  in my next post. Can’t wait until then? Feel free to reach out to us below or Book A Discovery Call. We’d love to help you start a digital strategy today. 


About the Author

Sebastian Traeger is the Managing Director of Reliability Center, Inc. (RCI).

Sebastian brings a background in technology, business and executive leadership to RCI. He has spearheaded the effort to bring digital revolution to RCI and the PROACT® RCA methodology through EasyRCA. EasyRCA is a cloud-based RCA solution that teams love, allowing companies to do more RCAs, find better roots, and deliver quicker results.

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