The latest wave of the Industrial Revolution is all about digital and involves the Cloud, mobile devices and software applications. Read what Google’s Renee Niemi (shown) had to say yesterday about why companies cannot not afford to be a part of it.
Rare are manufacturing trends that are so large that they represent a global revolutionary shift, but one of those reshaping the business world today was addressed on Mon., Mar. 23, by Renee Niemi, director of Android and Chrome Business, Google at Work. She updated, illustrated and advised an attentive audience at the ProMat/Automate2015 show, including this editor, on the Digital Revolution as Industrial Revolution 4.0.
“To stay competitive, companies must stop experimenting with digital and commit to transforming themselves,” said self-admitted “geek and gadget junkie” Niemi, who presented what she called “ideas to solve points of pain for manufacturers and their businesses."
“I feel your pain, I have lived your pain,” she said, noting both her previous and current positions were in manufacturing positions while sharing this surprising-to-me factoid about Google: It is the 4th largest manufacturer of goods in North America.
It’s not about technology
“[Digital] isn’t about technology and processes, this is about people and corporate change,” she said.
She used as a jumping off point for the venue that the technology addresses three key challenges cited in a study from show sponsor Material Handling Institute (MHI): Talent Shortage, Cost Reduction and Supply Chain Analytics. Niemi identified the Three Technical Ingredients of Digital:
- THE CLOUD, which allows a company to outsource all of its IT infrastructure. “Companies can then focus less on infrastructure and more on what to do with the data,” she suggested, adding that it saves companies money, allows them to scale business with the natural business cycle and keep technology up to date. “It permits access of any device at any place at any time,” she said.
- MOBILE for all employees and all your customers to use. “You can build that knowledge into your planning,” she said.
- APPS: The Cloud allows much “lighter-weight” applications for use with the Cloud so that the Cloud-based portion does the heavy lifting of the calculations and algorithms. That leads to “lighter,” lower-cost mobile devices.
A major benefit is that it uses HTML 5, an open industry standard. “Any platform can use that one language,” she said. “Months and years of development required before are now days and weeks."
The above yields Connected Workers. “Every clipboard on the [factory] floor should be a tablet,” she recommended.
Connected and happier workers
Besides the obvious benefits of connectivity, Niemi pointed to data that show such workers are happier and that connected companies are better at attracting college graduates.
“In fact, they would accept a lower salary if allowed to choose their own mobile device,” she added. "Seriously consider that every company worker be mobile-equipped."
In one case study example, General Motors workers use Google Glass wearable technology to know how to apply an otherwise finicky process of applying a seal around a car door. In another example, Google Glass permits real-time training on factory equipment.
Another advantage is the Connected Supply Chain, which increases efficiency in feeding customer data in real-time down to the [factory] floor.
Then there’s the point at which the rubber meets the road, according to Niemi: Connected Analytics. She mentioned how a garment manufacturer uses tech on the hanger to know when a garment has been removed and is not replaced.
She concluded the session by citing three case studies:
UK grocer Ocado operates 100% through online orders using a Where‘s My Order app that integrates with Google Maps; the Cloud application handles 2.5 megabytes of data per second. “It turns the ‘chore’ of grocery shopping into quality time with family,” said Niemi.
Hardware manufacturer Sanmina Corp. went “all in” on digital four years ago and has seen reductions in cost of 65% and time to market of 35%.
Whirlpool moved to the Cloud, uses the same system in 65 global locations and brings products to market 30% faster than before while improving worker productivity.
“Companies cannot not afford to use digital [technology],” Niemi said.
To read more about Industrial Revolution 4.0 in the world of packaging, see other PackagingDigest.com articles that cite Google.