Traditional pen & pencil methods can produce only analog data. This cannot, however, be used by computing algorithms (or at least without making the entire process a lot more complex). Today in industry 4.0 every organization is interested in streamlining its processes, making the ability to analyze a wide spectrum of essential. Therefore capturing digitized information produced during processes execution is crucial to enable the full potential of techniques, like Machine Learning.
“Digitization is the process of converting information into a digital format, in which the information is organized into bits”
This article explains why companies should decide to digitize procedures for their business, what technologies are needed to enable the process, and how to benefit from the outcomes.
Transforming work procedures in industry 4.0 from paper to digital forms brings a set of new opportunities. Depending on your current goals and strategies you can benefit in various ways, increasing operational efficiency, improving safety, compliance, and quality, or shortening the learning curve.
WHAT TO DIGITIZE?
It’s not enough to say that processes are being run in every work environment (office, production, maintenance, services). There is plenty of processes that show digitization opportunities. Your main target is procedures involving activities like:
- quality controls,
- maintenance & calibration instructions.
which are performed with traditional pen & paper. Make sure that you start to capture the data with purpose from day one. The purpose is improvements, the way to get there is through data analysis. Therefore, before starting, make sure that excellence expectations were set and KPIs were defined.
HOW TO DIGITIZE?
Devices & software help to capture and use the data. Data Analysis exposes patterns and supports decision-making. Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence enable automation. Below you’ll find technologies and techniques that will contribute to the realization of digitization in industry 4.0.
- Devices & software. Smartphones, tablets, wearables, smart glasses. Devices, equipped with specialized software, help to improve quality (adding media content to the inspections), compliance (guided procedures and log of execution), and safety (remote presence). All these technologies also help to shorten the time and effort needed to enable new employees to perform their duties.
“On-the-job training was required for 76.8 percent of all civilian workers in 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor. The average length of on-the-job training was 34 days”
- Data Analysis. Not only dedicated to management but also to the operating teams. They should be able to analyze and discuss historical measurements, mapped to current observations at any time. This will help them to improve inspections or audits. For a longer perspective, accurate and high-quality operational information supports methods like Lean Six Sigma.
- Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. Both technologies introduce great possibilities for automation. Whereas Machine Learning (ML) focuses on finding patterns that shape baselines for actions (i.e re-calibrating physical systems), while Artificial Intelligence (AI) aims to mimic human abilities. In industrial use-cases (so far) ML takes the lead.
Several examples of the systems that support the digitization of processes in industry 4.0.
- PlanRadar. Dedicated to inspections. With your mobile devices, you can easily create a ticket adding photos and text or voice memos. These can be assigned directly for execution. Very good choice for maintenance or safety supervisors wanting to address cases instantly. Supported devices: smartphones, tablets, desktop. Supported platforms: Android, Windows, iOS. It works offline.
- Proceedix. For managing enterprise procedures, work instructions, and checklists. Can support quality controls, field services, and logistic operations. You can add photos or text memos. Supported devices: (google) Glass, Vuzix, Iristick, RealWear, smartphones, tablets, desktop. Supported platforms: Android, Windows, iOS. API for 3rd party integrations. It works offline.
- Isolocity. For Quality and Compliance. Focused on part inspection & SPC can address any industry that needs Quality Management or Risk Management (supports implementation of GMP and HACCP). SaaS application. Supported platforms: web-based application. No mobile app. Supported devices: desktop, smartphones, and tablets. Works only online.
- WorkfloPlus. For digital Instructions. You can add video, photos, documents, and audio recordings. Allows capturing signatures. API for 3rd party integrations. Supported platforms: Android, Windows, iOS. Supported devices: desktop, smartphones, tablets, smart glasses.
There’s a great selection of other software available on the market and you’ll be able to find the one which fits your use case best. Many of them offer trial versions, so you can test their core functionalities for free.
TESTING THE TECHNOLOGY
How can you check if digitization is something you need? How can you check if it brings the expected benefits? Here are 6 hints that will help you to validate the hypothesis with simple Proof Of Concept:
- Choose a simple procedure,
- Use affordable technology,
- Establish relations directly with technology vendors to get knowledge&experience,
- Keep it under 4 weeks,
- Ensure to get management ownership,
- When limited with time or internal resources, get POC as-a-service
- Stanley Bergman, Influencer, The Difference Between (Artificial) Intelligence and Wisdom.
- U.S Department of Labor, Occupational Requirements Survey summary.
- SAS, Wayne Thompson, Hui Li and Alison Bolen, Artificial intelligence, machine learning, deep learning and beyond.
- Architects for Business, A4BEE