Digital Manufacturing Week brings together the most innovative people and companies in manufacturing. Smart Moves is a collection of ideas and tips sourced directly from these industry influencers.

We asked our speakers, exhibitors, discussion leaders and partners for actionable advice on how best to kickstart digital innovation. From data and systems design, to culture and change management, they provide a broad range of ideas to stimulate thinking and support your journey.
Start by assessing where you are today

Digital transformation can be overwhelming and it’s often difficult to know where to begin. A useful exercise to get started is completing a digital health check to benchmark your current progress. This will help you to identify any gaps in your strategy, understand the recommended next steps and help build an actionable plan to move forward, whether you are taking your first steps or have already implemented successful digital projects.
Mark Hughes, Regional Vice President UK & Ireland, Epicor

Incremental changes to boost manufacturing productivity 

We have focused on making incremental productivity improvements on a weekly and monthly basis. This has gotten everyone on board with the changes and been much easier to manage than trying to do large, wholesale changes all at once. We upgraded our ERP system in 2016, and every month or two we would move another manual (think Excel) report into the ERP so it is real-time and autogenerated. We now hardly touch Excel and have real-time information across our production planning!
Troy Barratt, Managing Director, Contracts Engineering
The building blocks of innovative teams

What are the critical success factors/biggest challenges at the team and organisational level when driving innovation? At team level, the leader focuses on creating an environment that allows innovation to happen.

Product / process innovation to be set as a team priority

Making it acceptable for team members to try to innovate and fail

Rewarding attempts to innovate through praise, recognition and performance management systems

Building a team with a range of experiences to allow collaboration and conflict to generate innovation

Leigh Smith, New Model Programmes Lead, Jaguar Land Rover

Best foot forward: change management 

Critical to driving successful change is ensuring that frontline staff are fully involved in designing and implementing change and have joint ownership of the project. Our biggest challenge is overcoming the natural reluctance to change.
Joan Stewart, Operations Director, Hotter Shoes
Understand what the future of manufacturing looks like (and five capabilities to get you there)

Our goal is to help you identify and adopt technologies that will improve performance in the 5 key capabilities critical to success in design and manufacturing.

Mass Customization: The nature of demand is changing. Customers now expect increasingly higher levels of personalization of the products and services they buy.
Collaboration: The nature of how we design is changing. Design teams are expected to see greater design input up front which often leads to innovation.
Flexible manufacturing: The nature of how we manufacture is changing. Manufacturers are expected to offer far greater flexibility in what they can produce and how.
Customer experience: The nature of customer expectation is changing. Customers expect more value over the lifetime of the products they invest in.
Smart services: The nature of owning and operating products is changing. Customers now expect less of an upfront purchase and more of a subscription-based model that improves over time.
Asif Moghal, Senior Industry Manager – Design & Manufacturing, Autodesk

Rethink the foundations of your competitive model

The changes that underpin Industry 4.0 require executives to ask themselves how they should change their competitive model. How do you increase your capacity to deliver cheaper products across the supply chain? Manufacturers need to rethink the entire value chain. They need to apply different thinking and toolsets – there are really only six different ways to model your manufacturing operations: revenue, value, cost, performance, service, and operating model.
Henrik von Scheel, Originator of Industry 4.0
Conservative goals aren't enough

We can be quite an annoying group of people to work with, because we are very meticulous, very detailed in the planning stage, but then when we get to execute, we’re phenomenally quick. 
It’s having the courage, when an idea is presented to you, to stretch for it, knowing that the stretch is probably beyond your reach. You probably won’t reach that goal, but you’ll reach a goal further from here than if you set a lower target.
Alan Foster, Executive Director Infrastructure Projects, McLaren Automotive

Secure quick wins to show progress

Look for quick wins: savings on the bottom line or productivity improvements, or evidence that you’ve stopped a chronic quality problem from occurring. You don’t want people to get disillusioned with the journey. One way to prevent that is to fuel the enthusiasm by communicating real gains, letting people see progress along the way.

Greg Kinsey & David McKnight, Hitachi Consulting
Understand the journey to smart manufacturing

Becoming a smart manufacturer is not something accomplished at once or even in a short timeframe. Rather, it’s a journey with multiple phases.

Level 1: Visualization. The first phase is getting some basic digitization on the shop floor. This might 
mean installing cameras or microphones or other kinds of sensors to start to visualize what is happening in operations

Level 2: Integration. Companies then move up to the point where they can make sense of the data in an integrated way so that the upstream and the downstream parts of the process can begin working more hand in hand.

Level 3: Analysis. At this level, companies improve control over factory processes through analysis of historical data as well as descriptive analysis. Companies can understand what’s happening in a factory at any given moment and manage processes more effectively.

Level 4: Predictive. Predictive analytics can unlock a great deal of value—for example, alerting companies that, at current course and speed, bottlenecks and quality problems are likely to arise.

Level 5: Prescriptive. Here, not only do technologies predict what will happen, they will also provide suggestions or prescriptions of what to do to minimize the negative impact of the event.

Level 6: Symbiotic. The final and most advanced stage is a factory that has a high level of intelligence built into the systems. Using artificial intelligence, the factory can be self-healing and self-adjusting.

Greg Kinsey, Vice President Industrial Solutions & Innovation, Hitachi Vantara
Fail fast, fail cheap

When developing products, it’s important to remember ‘fail fast, fail cheap’. With 3D printing enabling rapid prototyping of complex designs, this is contributing to cutting-edge innovation and trialing ideas without the need to buy or pay prohibitively high prices. This, combined with digital technologies such as VR and AR technologies, can dramatically reduce cost and time to market for innovations in any industry.
David Bogg, Advanced Engineering Facility Manager, Science and Technology Facilities Council
The human body and the smart factory

The human body provides inspirational ideas that could be used as a guide for best practice in digital transformation. The five human senses (Sensors) collect real-time data from the surroundings which are filtered to record relevant information avoiding complexity and noise (Edge Computing). This data is pushed through the nervous system (IoT Seamless Connectivity) to the brain for analysis (Fog Analytics). The brain interprets the data and orders the body to take actions (Data-Driven Actions). Historical data stored in the brain’s memory are used for further analysis providing deeper insights about the surroundings and a self-learning scheme for corrective actions (AI).

Dr Amr Sufian, Industry 4.0 Project Manager, Beverston Engineering
Flexibility is key

Industry 4.0 is about flexibility – of manufacturing processes, machinery, facilities, people and outputs. With that in mind, selecting the correct standard at the start of your digital journey is essential, but it’s a step some machine manufacturers and end-users overlook.
Andrew Minturn, Business Development and Strategic Product Manager Bosch Rexroth

Drive best value

A well-defined focus on the type and level of performance data required to best drive value for an SME will help establish a roadmap for digital technology adoption at the right pace and at the most appropriate level.

Chris Prince, global engineering director at IMI Precision Engineering
Custom versus bespoke

It’s not always efficient to build a custom solution if there’s a pre-made solution that’s been proven to scale. Hemingway didn’t build his own typewriters, he focused on what he was good at and that's what businesses should do. Even if the up-front cost may appear higher, it can mean substantial savings in the long-term.
Deborah Sherry, Senior VP and Chief Commercial Officer of Europe, Russia & CIS at GE Digital
Know who your suppliers are and carry out checks

Large businesses are focusing on the first-level, or direct suppliers, with limited checks on data. At this stage, the SEC appears to be sympathetic to the difficulties companies have in tracking and monitoring these minerals.
However, it is surely only a matter of time before the Security Exchange Commission requires checks on information provided right the way through the supply chain with checks on all the data provided.  This should be incorporated into the existing ‘pre-qualification’ checks on suppliers – deemed as essential as health and safety and company turnover. In our experience, most large businesses have no idea who their suppliers are beyond the first tier.

Adrian Chamberlain, Chief Executive, Achilles
Embrace the perpetual journey

A risk-averse culture within a business is an immediate barrier to digital adoption and change needs to be embraced throughout the entire organisation. Once implementation has begun, it becomes a perpetual journey influenced by the fast-paced world we live in today and driven by constant innovation and radical ideas.
Daniel Watson, Head of Engineering at Sensor City
Get ahead of the capability gap

Successful companies recognise the importance of new skillsets in their approach to digital transformation, and the significance of an organisational culture that facilitates development. The necessary skills and capabilities can be developed through a combination of internal training, the acquisition of new talent, and collaborations with technology providers and research and academic institutions. 

A digital transformation has the best chance of succeeding in an environment that encourages creativity and supports innovation. The best companies are always looking for new ideas from their employees, their technology partners, and the wider world.

Rehana Khanam, partner at McKinsey & Company
Big data is the key to the 21st century

Big data is the key to the 21st century. The challenge as an SME is how to extract only the relevant information about our products and processes, as well as ensuring that our employees are equipped with the necessary skillset to use this information in smarter ways.
Peter Atterby, Managing Director, Luxus

Taking positive risks

We look for intelligent and enthusiastic people with the right attitude to working with us. Then we give them responsibilities that will stretch them and ultimately shape them into the innovation-minded people we need. We are not afraid to take risks and to learn from that together.

Gareth Hankins, Director, Group Manufacturing, Renishaw
Size doesn't matter

Many make the mistake of thinking that digital transformation is just for large manufacturers, when in reality, it is quickly becoming a sink or swim situation for start-ups and SMEs too. Taking the first steps on your digital transformation journey can be daunting, but there are numerous support programmes out there who can assist you with technical support and practical advice.
James Nixon, Prototyping Engineer, Sensor City

Understand what people need

What you need to do first is work out what your challenges are and what people need. You can see there is a problem and you have a platform [to collect data], but you if haven’t understood what people need, then it’s not really going to deliver anything.

Alison Beard-Gunter, Continuous Improvement Manager, Accolade Wines
Collaboration is key

Collaborations between SMEs, larger corporates, academic institutions and tech clusters are enabling manufacturing businesses to more easily embrace the latest digital technologies, through knowledge exchange, access to talent and support frameworks, which will strengthen and ultimately futureproof their operations.
Louise Goodman, Business Support and Innovations Manager, Sensor City

Skills of the future will come from unexpected places

While it’s impossible for today’s young people to know exactly where their career will take them in the next 20 years, a wide range of skills will be useful in future-proofing the careers of young people today. Indeed, subjects as varied as Graphic Design, Philosophy, Chemical Engineering and Cybersecurity will prove valuable for the jobs of tomorrow. Some of our best technicians come from different backgrounds and, as future positions evolve, it’s important that school leavers embrace the element of the unknown to future-proof their careers.

Nick Colosimo, Principal Technologist at BAE Systems
Riding the wave of innovation

Maximising the potential of emerging technologies means creating the conditions where the businesses riding this wave of technological innovation can collaborate and thrive. Innovation hubs like Sensor City provide the space where innovators can design, build, test and develop their novel concepts into prototypes with speed and accuracy. They also provide access to highly specialised equipment, while offering the world-class expertise that can help to propel great ideas through to commercialisation.
Dr Joanne Phoenix, Interim Executive Director, Sensor City

Good data needs people before technology

Data management is all about people, not technology. systems can help but good data can only be achieved by people doing the right thing.
Gerard Bartley, Global Master Data Manager, Jacobs Douwe Egberts

Solve your customers' problems, not your own

Understand your customers, and what they value. Who are your internal and external customers? What is their job to be done? Once defined, ask yourself ‘What are the basic expectations they expect of me?’ What would they desire from me if I asked them? And finally, ‘what could I do to meet their needs in a way that would delight them? '.
Sean Culey, Author of Transition Point, Visting Fellow, Cranfield
A child-like approach to problem-solving

Children are natural innovators. They are predisposed to keep trying different ways to solve a problem – from learning to crawl, to figuring out the best way to climb a tree. This is deeply embedded in the natural learning process. But somehow as we grow up, this inclination to experiment too often gets damped down. We experience failures and humiliations, we become more fearful of risk, and we are more likely to want to do things right the first time and hide our mistakes.

We are all capable of thinking differently and questioning established practices. We all have enquiring minds, the ability to innovate, and the capacity to collaborate to address problems. To embrace change, and seek out its positive impacts, it is vital that we think about how best to nurture innovation in ourselves and in our current and future workforce.
Professor Tim Minshall, Head of Institute for Manufacturing, University of Cambridge
Realise the value of data you have

Many companies think they need to go out and collect vast quantities of new data. Whilst this can be no bad thing, many companies are already sitting on several data sets that could uncover additional insights or objectives when integrated together. Diversity of data is often more valuable than sheer volume. This approach can demonstrate value to the business and help focus data collection efforts, integration and flow across the business, and intelligent automation of systems.
Dr Eric Topham, Co-Founder & CEO, The Data Analysis Bureau

Today’s insight is tomorrow’s hindsight

Work as hard as you can to compress the time between data creation, processing, storing and insight generation: the longer it takes us to go through this cycle, the lower the value we will get from the process. Today’s insight is tomorrow’s hindsight.
Marco Del Seta, Head of Digital, BOC
Start recruiting people who'll challenge your status quo

We look for creative people who like change, who can challenge what we are doing and solve problems. That way we’ve kept ahead of the competition.
James Smith, Co-owner, A-Safe
Innovation still demands solid foundations

As businesses have access to more and more information, the traditional concepts of clear data definitions, good data governance and easy to navigate data structures become even more important, not less.  Without them in place, it is too easy for your data to become a liability, rather than an asset. Invest some effort getting your basics right first as the foundation for all your other data-related initiatives.

Gerard Bartley, Global Master Data Manager at Jacobs Douwe Egberts  

Short-term costs vs long-term benefit

Beware the distraction of short-term cost savings, relatively easily achieved without a fundamental change in ways of working on the shop floor or in business-to-customer interaction. Listen to your customers and your people, and assemble a committed, collaborative team to drive digital transformation. 
Dr Steven Barr, Edge Digital Manufacturing
Harnessing the power of employee communications

Our employees are very inquisitive and that’s something we’ve worked hard to cultivate. Every element of our profitability is shared with our employees; we have a rigorous communication programme so that they understand the trading of our business and the competitive industry that we operate in. By fully appreciating every facet of Accolade’s environment, our workers are far more open to embracing advancements in technology.
Richard Lloyd, General Manager, Accolade Wines (2018 TMMX Manufacturer of the Year)
Prioritise 'why not?' decision-making

When asked: “What is the ROI of your digital project?” respond with: “What is the cost of not doing it, in terms of our competitors and market share?”
Andrew Wall, Head of Project Data Management UK, Airbus Defence and Space
Focus on solving customer problems, not selling products

Technology, processes, systems – these are all ‘hows’ designed to deliver a ‘why’. When the why is clear, the ‘how’ and ‘what’ of technology makes sense, and it is easy to see which ones add value, and which are just noise. Once you’ve identified the true customer, and the job they are trying to do, then review how the new wave of technologies can help them do it. This could uncover hidden opportunities and result in rethinking the entire way you deliver value.
Sean Culey, Author of Transition Point & Visiting Fellow, Cranfield
Start with the end in mind

When considering your digital journey, start with the benefit to your business, what is your underlying need? From there ask “What do I need to know in order for that to be so?”
Ask your suppliers, customers and team; What ideas they have to achieve it? Who else you could ask? Who might have a solution? When you say what needs to be achieved rather than how something is to be done, the best rather than the first ideas will present themselves.
Dolores Sanders, Strategic Director, Total Control Pro
Promote people on the basis of future capabilities rather than past successes

Rethink the Peter Principle – that people are promoted on the basis of their previous success, rather than their future capabilities. In other words, promoted to their level of incompetence. “Because there is so much pressure on cost, UK manufacturers often fail to invest sufficiently in their management capacity. People are a summary of competences – and competences are dependent on investing in skills. People are the means by which businesses adapt to the changes represented by Industry 4.0.”
Henrik von Scheel, Originator of Industry 4.0
Understand the power of New Product Development

It's important to understand how New Product Development contributes to your business. Identify the strategic areas (markets, product areas or technologies) in which to innovate and focus activities around these. Create clear product road maps to demonstrate future opportunities and how you intend to develop them. Do this by engaging your teams and having open discussions across the organisation to ensure those good ideas are taken forward, no matter where they come from.
Andrew Carr, Chief of Engineering, BAE Systems 

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