Smart operations: Why the future is now

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In a post-pandemic world that has become increasingly uncertain, so too has consumer behavior. According to new research from Accenture, 72% of consumers say that external factors – such as climate change, economic instability and political unrest – are impacting our lives more now than in the past.

Consequently, consumer demand is more unpredictable than ever, and many industrial businesses have struggled to keep up. It’s not surprising then, that the study also reveals that 64% of consumers wish companies would respond faster to these changing needs.

But how can they best do this?

Enter the age of Smart Operations – enabling businesses to respond to changing consumer demands profitably, and in real-time

Smart technology is transforming the industrial world, and Industry 4.0 is very much here.

By integrating smart, connected assets to transform a manufacturing plant into an automated “Smart Operation”, the value of real-time data can be harnessed to optimize efficiency and increase adaptability in response to today’s dynamic business landscape.

Our very own Smart Factory in Lexington, Kentucky, USA is a true testament to how a digital transformation can increase agility and resiliency within a manufacturing operation.

And the business benefits don’t stop there.

Becoming a Smart Operation offers data-driven efficiency, speed, and flexibility in production that can also improve profitability, boost employee productivity and give a competitive edge.

So how can businesses adapt to become smarter operations, now?

The stages of maturity in a Smart Operation

Becoming a Smart Operation in the context of manufacturing has various milestones to be reached when evolving to a fully optimized system:

  1. Effective Execution: This is when a company makes sure its existing operations are functioning as effectively as possible by making the most of the people, production assets, and processes it already has. Once that’s done, it can function at peak levels of agility, efficiency, sustainability, employee satisfaction, and engagement.
  2. Flexible Production​: Next, the aim is to become as agile and flexible as possible to improve response to external demands and adapt production plans to meet changing customer needs and market conditions. Lean manufacturing techniques give a facility the agility it needs to meet changing market, customer, and supply chain demands.
  3. Integrated Value Chain​: The last step is to connect an industrial company’s operations with its external supply chain and link it all, in real time, to customer demand and market data. Digitally linking all relevant nodes as a single end-to-end value chain allows it to be managed and optimized as one single production system.

Industrial companies looking to join those leading the shift to smart operations might consider introducing measures such as new software or IIoT platforms to begin the journey toward achieving the efficiency, agility, and sustainability required to survive in the future, now.

That’s what Coop, one of Switzerland’s largest retail and wholesale companies, has done via the implementation of Plant iT by ProLeiT – a state-of-the-art Process Control System (PCS). With an integrated Manufacturing Execution System (MES) inside, it’s been specifically created for the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) market.

ProLeiT – using data-driven digital technology to build Smart Operations

Coop’s bakery facility in Schafisheim, the largest of its kind in Switzerland, produces over 60,000 tons of bakery and confectionary goods every year, with each line changing recipe several times a day. Having an agile, smart operation, which offers the highest levels of flexibility and standards of quality is critical for Coop to meet market demand, ensure customer satisfaction, and maintain their position as an Industry leader.

As a part of their recent greenfield project, ProLeiT Plant iT batch management, integrated order management, and material management base systems were selected as the best solutions to be implemented at Coop’s bakery in order to optimize their large-scale daily production requirements.

The digital solutions offered by ProLeiT help by making it easier to integrate business and production systems, aligning production operations to market demand in real time.

This also:  

  • reduces the time taken to deliver new and existing products
  • allows flexible, agile asset usage based on company strategies and production requirements   
  • optimizes plant performance and throughput

Using ProLeiT to manage the production process and further integrate systems across the facility, Coop has improved manufacturing agility and flexibility, which means the business can better meet ever-changing market demands, and ensure the operation is running as proactively, efficiently, and sustainably as possible.

By embracing and investing in digital technologies and beginning the journey to becoming a Smart Operation now, not only can industrial manufacturers keep up with the ever-changing demands of the global consumer landscape just like Coop does, but they too can become fully equipped to lead the way to an industry where digital technologies are leveraged to their full capabilities, Smart Operations are the norm, and as a result, we all work smarter, not harder.

Ready to enter the age of Smart Operations?

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