Every automaker and large supplier rates itself at least at par with the competition in digital manufacturing, according to a recent white paper by consultancy McKinsey. Companies from seven countries were suveyed (2018 Manufacturing Global Expert Survey).
The truth is that automotive is more in the middle than the front.
“Digital manufacturing is still in its early days,” McKinsey’s Richard Kelly says. Automakers “are putting a lot of effort and energy in it…But they don’t have a firsthand view of what other players are doing. Therefore, it’s a little hard to judge if you are ahead or behind.”
The survey of 50 automakers and suppliers finds:
• 92% of OEMs have tried analytics for quality management and root cause analytics. Just 31% had rolled it out.
• 54% have 3D printing pilots but just 4% run at scale. Adoption among suppliers is 25%.
• 54% had tried augmented reality for operator guidance or training, but just 15% had taken it to scale. For suppliers, 63% had tried it and 8% had it in full use.
Kelly rates automotive in the middle of the pack in key pursuits of Industry 4.0:
• Connectivity – Using digital performance management and augmented reality to move the right information to the right people in real time. These tactics help communicate interactive work instructions and standard operating procedures.
• Intelligence – Making better decisions through advanced analytics and artificial intelligence. This includes predictive maintenance, digital quality management and artificial intelligence-driven demand forecasting.
• Flexible Automation – Safer robotic technologies include interactive “cobots” that work alongside humans. Cobots have become a common sight in many auto plants.
Automation is comfortable in automation. Companies know their robots generate huge amounts of data. That leads to companies implementing predictive maintenance use cases, detecting micro-level deviation and using that as a predictor of reliability.
He says integrating systems to create a real-time, data-driven view of performance for predictive analytics, and replacing a firefighting culture that relies on instinct and expertise are two barriers that must fall.
Similar to lean manufacturing that appeared during the '80s, Industry 4.0 will also need some time to mature.
“This is a journey in the same way the other industrial revolutions have evolved,” Kelly says. “There isn’t a mature best practice for capturing the value from digital manufacturing. Technologies are constantly evolving. We have a long path ahead of us.”