How technology is shrinking big industry

According to a study from PWC, 72 per cent of companies expect to achieve advanced levels of digitalisation by 2020 while investments (in digitalisation) are expected to total $907bn per year by 2020. The fact is that today, businesses must adopt technology to remain competitive but big industrial organisations are hardly reknowned for speed and innovation when it comes to adoption of change.

Legacy systems, dated views and fear of the unknown are all common barriers and no sector is immune. Manufacturing, aerospace, energy, logistics. The list is endless. What is also endless is the sheer volume of administrative work and paper that older processes and working practices are wedded to. Advances in health and safety should be championed but the by-product in checks, forms and sign-off steps has been phenomenal. Can you imagine the outcry if an equivalent shot of workers eating lunch on a suspended iron girder during construction of the Empire State Building suddenly appeared during the building of the new Westfield in Croydon?

Here’s an example. Imagine the volume of paper that is needed to be completed to make one critical function on an aeroplane meet all the required safety checks - getting the wheels down, for instance. Then factor this up for every part of the aeroplane, then again for every plane in the fleet. Every fleet in the sky and so on. You get the message! Written down in those terms, it’s madness. Oh, and this paperwork must be available to the plane at all times. Believe it or not, it happens.

Read: Why technology can't be allowed to replace personal connections

Processes that underpin big businesses are taking time, draining money and are elongating and complicating matters - until now. The technology available today is rewriting the rulebook when it comes to organisations held back by legacy systems, paper, and outdated 20th Century process. It is making the long and complex short and simple. As a movement, it is commonly known as Industry 4.0 - the technologisation of big business. It is placing an ever-increasing value and importance on data and reprogramming companies to view it as a raw material as critical to operations as cargo, parts or materials.

Using AI and Machine learning, businesses can now use technology to blend information held within existing systems and legacy data and combine it with existing worker knowledge, manuals and documents to drive continuous improvement with intelligent self-learning systems and processes. These can be accessed anywhere, at any time and in any language via a computer, wearable devices, tablet or phone.

The benefits are clear and numerous. On a macro level it enables businesses to reduce cost, increase first-time fix rate, facilitate knowledge transfer and capture valuable knowledge. But on a day-to-day basis it does so much more helping to; improved traceability, increase efficiency, reduced risk, enhance operational transparency, provide an accurate audit trail and full health and safety compliance.

The capture, analysis and utilisation of data in real-time is a game-changer for companies that adopt these new technologies too. It provides real-time data that is able to deliver insights and analytics to foster continuous improvement and innovation. In an environment where UK worker productivity is under scrutiny and businesses hungry to safeguard their long-term competitiveness on a global stage, access to instant & accurate information to enable fact based decision making has never been move valuable.

This is a guest blog and may not represent the views of Virgin.com. Please see virgin.com/terms for more details. Image from gettyimages.

Comment

Our Companies

Quick Links