Plant managers across Canada, especially those in small or mid-sized companies, know that digitization and automation are necessary for staying competitive. The real dilemma, though, lies in deciding which efficiency improvements to pursue and which ones to ignore.
The Short Game and Long Game
Apart from the up-front cost of these improvements, there’s the opportunity cost of dedicating your resources to implement any new changes, such as the adoption of new robotics or digital solutions.
Putting a tonne of effort into a 4% improvement in OTD is admirable. But the question of what it really cost you to make that improvement is the kind of stuff that keeps management up at night. But so is the fear of standing still and getting left behind by companies that are digitizing more quickly.
This is one of the main reasons that mid-sized producers in Europe have moved toward advanced simulation as a way of taking bolder steps forward while minimizing their risk. Using digital twin technology, companies can now create highly detailed virtual replicas of their facilities and use these simulations to identify bottlenecks and run what-if scenarios to determine the exact impact of any change or capital investment they might consider making.
This technology can also give clear, quantifiable answers to questions like:
- -Will adding a certain machine deliver fast & reliable ROI?
- -How will changing my facility’s layout impact productivity?
- -Is automating a certain process really worth it?
- -What’s the best possible production schedule I can create?
- -How much of a performance improvement can I expect?
Crumbling Barriers to Digital Twin Adoption
Five years ago, the sheer up-front cost, labour, and internal expertise required to create a digital twin would have been too much for your typical mid-sized producer. But significant efforts have been made to erase these barriers and to make digital twins more available on an as-needed basis, with partners like Longterm Technology Services shouldering the work of creating digital twins for its partners.
Once the digital twin is created, a company will suddenly enjoy a lot of new pathways forward. It can have its service partner perform analysis on its behalf; it can begin training one or more of its people to work with the digital twin themselves; or it can purchase a license to bring its simulation work in-house to use the digital twin on an ongoing basis to improve its layout, throughput, OEE, and many other production factors.
If you’re currently wondering about the next steps in your production journey, and would like to evaluate your options with little up-front cost or risk, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for a no-commitment conversation. We’d love to discuss your current goals and how to achieve them.