Digitalization within factories is beneficial only if there’s a real need and tangible value in practice, according to members of the SEF Smart Electronic Factory. The consortium members shed light on the necessary prerequisites for profitable digital transformation in manufacturing companies, emphasizing that digitalization isn’t a one-time project but an ongoing, multi-stage process.
Steffen Rattke, Head of PreSales at German Edge Cloud, encourages businesses to swiftly identify where the value potential of digitalization lies. He warns that without digital transformation, there could be a stagnation in productivity advancements. “By 2024, larger companies will be mandated to provide sustainability proofs (ESG) that are unfeasible without digital processes,” he adds, suggesting that transformations should occur step by step, allowing for manageable and calculable projects.
Jonas Barth of the Institute for Production Management, Technology and Machine Tools (PTW) stresses the importance of ensuring processes are lean and stable before they are digitalized. “The highest value from digitalization can be achieved when processes are efficient and when employees understand and help to further develop the digital solutions,” he noted.
Ines Thurner, CEO of CONVANIT GmbH & Co. KG, advises companies to consider where digitalization makes the most sense. “Digitalization is appropriate when it solves problems or sustainably simplifies processes, not just to follow a digitalization trend,” Thurner emphasizes.
Tackling the skills shortage with digitalization is also highlighted. Prof. Dr. Gerrit Sames of Technische Hochschule Mittelhessen (THM) identifies significant value potential of digitalization in administrative areas, emphasizing that existing software solutions can minimize efforts, reduce errors, and enhance response speed.
Gerd Ohl, CEO of Limtronik GmbH, suggests focusing on automation to offset the skilled labor shortage, especially in the electronics industry. Heike Vocke, CEO of iSAX GmbH & Co. KG, emphasizes the challenges faced by mid-sized manufacturing companies in maintaining competitiveness despite increasing product variety and a growing skills shortage.
The growing emphasis on sustainability and energy efficiency in many industrial companies is noted. The SEF is actively developing and testing solutions, such as energy monitoring and management, that contribute to the reduction of the CO2 footprint. “Sustainability should be firmly anchored in the corporate strategy, with steps like utilizing renewable energy and reducing energy and resource wastage in manufacturing processes,” says Andor Prohaszka, CEO of Pfeifer and Seibel GmbH.