Why Digital Transformation Is So Important for Manufacturing Businesses

Why Digital Transformation Is So Important for Manufacturing Businesses

Digital transformation is the process of introducing and implementing new technologies—like artificial intelligence, asset management and process optimisation—across your business and production to improve efficiency, cost-effectiveness and productivity. 

Yet, when it comes to manufacturing businesses, our recent research report, The Blind Spot, suggests that many manufacturing businesses lag behind, as current adoption rates of key manufacturing technologies are surprisingly low.

In fact, despite 38% of businesses citing digital transformation as their number-one priority, the majority of key manufacturing technologies have actually been implemented by fewer than one in five businesses. And as a result, many businesses are losing time and money from using outdated processes and systems.

So, if you’re feeling a little on the fence about whether you should invest in digital transformation, here are three key reasons why it’s so important for manufacturing businesses—and the challenges that businesses face when they lag behind. 

Why Digital Transformation Is So Important for Manufacturing Businesses

1. Digital Transformation Helps Increase Productivity and Efficiency 

Outdated tools and processes are a killer for productivity and efficiency. 

Just look at our research findings, where 36% of businesses said that they frequently struggle to maintain efficiency because they use out-of-date tools, while 33% attributed this to having poor processes in place. 

The more time you have to spend manually completing processes, fixing errors from out-of-date tools or dealing with downtime from old technology, the less time you have to spend on things that really matter.

Using technologies like artificial intelligence, machine learning and automation, on the other hand, can help you streamline operations, reduce errors and ramp up productivity, enabling you to do more in less time, grow your business and ultimately increase profits. 

2. Digital Transformation Enables You To Better Monitor and Maintain High-Value Assets

Do you use Excel to track the location of your high-value assets or record information on tool condition and activity using a pen and paper? If you answered yes, you’re not alone. 

Our research found that a significant number of businesses use manual processes to monitor high-value assets—with 42% saying they use spreadsheets, for example. 

But while these processes might seem to work for your business, they’re likely costing you huge amounts of time and money. 

For example, we found that almost a third of businesses frequently misplace assets because they lack real-time data and visibility, use out-of-date tools or have poor processes in place. And as a result, half of all businesses waste 2–3 hours per week simply locating tools and components—that’s one working day per month!

Upgrading your asset monitoring technologies not only massively reduces your margin for error, but also enables you to automate data collection and track asset condition, location and activity in real-time. 

3. Digital Transformation Helps You Get Access to Real-Time Insights and Data

The majority of businesses (44%) prefer to work with real-time data when making key decisions. 

Yet, those using outdated tracking and monitoring systems often have no choice but to rely on historical data to make business decisions like ordering stock, allocating resources and performing preventative maintenance on assets. 

This often leads to unnecessary overspending, missed opportunities and losses in efficiency. For example, 43% of businesses say that lack of data frequently causes them to lose the velocity of work in process. 

On the other hand, using automated monitoring systems, for example, to access real-time data can help you minimise re-purchasing, streamline operations, identify bottlenecks, reduce wastage and more.

How To Start Your Digital Transformation Journey

Digital transformation isn’t an overnight project. And in our fast-paced world where technology advances in the blink of an eye, it’s also ongoing, so you might not ever fully feel finished.

The best course of action is to take a phased approach where you gradually introduce and integrate new technologies into your existing processes rather than taking on a “big bang” implementation. So, where do you start? 

Here are the top ten technologies that manufacturing businesses plan to invest in by 2026, according to our research report:

  1. Inter-platform integration
  2. Self-optimising systems
  3. Asset tracking
  4. Process optimisation
  5. Workflow integration
  6. Performance monitoring
  7. Digital products
  8. Condition-based monitoring
  9. Remote services
  10. IoT digital marketplace

Want to find out how Pathfindr can help your business digitally transform and get ahead of your competition?

Read The Blind Spot Report

If you found this article insightful, our recent report takes a deeper dive into where your peers are in their digital transformation journeys, what challenges they’re facing and how they plan to combat them.