Digital transformation is really nothing new, according to Claire Vyvyan, Senior VP UK&I at Dell Technologies. “In the last 15 years we’ve had the internet, the iPhone and the emergence of the likes of Airbnb. Now we’re trying to envisage what will happen in the next 15 years, beyond 2030,” she explains.
“The pace of digital disruption and the speed at which change is happening is getting faster because of the technology available, because of the way people write code today and because customers of all businesses, small and large, expect a different kind of service than the one they received as little as five years ago. These factors are driving digital transformation to achieve a better product, service and customer experience. Combined with new technology, data and insight, it’s this digital disruption that has the power to transform business.”
From the server room to the shop floor, technology is changing the most critical functions within the manufacturing industry at a faster rate than ever before. Engineers are modelling, simulating, testing and improving new products even before they create a physical prototype. Manufacturers are becoming more predictive around maintenance, quality and efficiency.
Whether your role involves data science, digital manufacturing, engineering or IT, Vyvyan maintains companies like Dell can be relied upon to provide the right solutions to keep manufacturing operations moving forward.
Vyvyan runs the company’s UK&I commercial business, looking after medium sized businesses and public-sector clients, and has two colleagues who handle larger businesses and entrepreneurial startups respectively. Dell EMC spans the globe, helping its largest customers to innovate while powering startups’ acceleration into the market. “We cover the market from consumers to new startups, all the way through the mid-market to the largest enterprises,” confirms Vyvyan, who advises: “Disrupting your business is a big way to go about protecting its future.”
Dell recommends manufacturers embrace digital disruption by adopting smart factory solutions and products that can streamline an organisation from the ground up. Predictive analytics and advanced condition monitoring (ACM) can be harnessed to fix breakdowns before they happen and optimise repair/supply inventories. A focus on manufacturing, order management, inventory management and logistics by integrating systems from top floor to shop floor can make the smart factory a reality by embracing accelerated processes to leverage fast and focused innovation. To that end, Dell and Bosch have jointly developed an Industry 4.0 jump start kit to help manufacturing customers implement IoT projects quickly, enabling them to realise faster ROI. The kit consists of multiple Bosch XDK sensors, a Dell Edge Gateway, ready-to-go use-cases, cloud integration and software, all preconfigured.
A recently published UK government review found the positive impact of the faster innovation and adoption of Industrial Digital Technologies (IDT), such as IoT, robotics and AI, could be worth billions across the globe, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. However, not everyone in manufacturing feels suitably confident when it comes to digital disruption with many, according to Dell, feeling that they don’t have the skills, knowledge or budget to be able to move forward. Vyvyan says that this is where Dell Technologies comes in. “Are their IT teams capable of driving digital disruption to bring new products and services to market? ‘Shadow IT’ can be worrying from an IT team point of view in terms of corporate governance and the new legislation such as GDPR coming downstream.
“We see two types of CIO in the marketplace today. In one half of the industry the IT team is providing a platform and launchpad on which others deliver innovative products and services are built – including the likes of Dell Technologies. But in other businesses, IT is the catalyst and driving force for innovation.”
Vyvyan’s colleague Clare Brown, Manufacturing Sales Director at Dell EMC, echoes this sentiment: “It’s essential for manufacturers to review their business processes and look for the small wins that have the opportunity to drive significant successes within the business, before moving onto more substantial change. Businesses that seize the opportunity to transform and own the disruptions happening around them will be the ones to succeed.”
On the quest for innovation Dell Technologies works closely with companies like Engenesis and E-Spark to horizon scan for entrepreneurial startups so it can always find solutions for big business manufacturers. “It helps us map big business to small business,” reveals Vyvyan. “When you think about the UK plc (public limited companies) economy you want both to survive. You need the entrepreneurial innovation allied to the big legacy companies to expand and thrive because they drive our pension funds, move the economy and employ thousands of people. It’s not about one at the expense of the other, it’s actually about helping both to transform.”
Indeed, with the right technology choices one can transform the factory floor. As the velocity of tech-driven change in manufacturing rapidly increases, companies are realising the need for a collaborative relationship between operational and information technology. Dell can help manufacturers make the connection across key areas. Analytics machines can produce valuable sensor data which can be combined with ERP (enterprise resource planning) and other database sources to create actionable insights. Mobility mobile and rugged technology can reduce manual processes and support your team as well as providing comprehensive security solutions. Cloud and virtualisation is replacing physical, and end-to-end cloud client-computing solutions enabling advanced tool, facility and process simulations.
Efficiency is key
To help businesses get to market more efficiently, Dell offers a range of OEM (original equipment manufacturer) solutions via a network of partners. These partners (including the likes of Unicom Engineering and CAE Technology Services) complement Dell’s offering providing value-added services such as custom hardware and software integration, final assembly and test, financing options, inventory management, consolidation and shipping, custom support engagements and supply chain solutions.
Efficiency in energy use is also paramount. Global enterprise Arrow Electronics has used the Dell Edge Gateway Model 5000 in a technology bundle ranging from the edge to the cloud to collect, process, store and analyse energy management data in a smart facility application scenario. This IoT solution enabled near real-time insight and offered the benefit of a blueprint for a broad range of applications. “By understanding our electricity usage, we can make changes to reduce cost,” explains Arrow’s Corporate Supply Manager Roland Ducote. “Once we have that information regarding our utility spending for all of our 460 global facilities, we can gain increased purchasing power.”
However, change isn’t always king, and Vyvyan believes that while being agile enough to adapt to new developments like IoT, it’s important to balance the needs of the resisters in your own legacy system, that mature asset driven customer base, with your emerging pay-to-play offering and transformation goals. “The ultimate goal is simply to listen really hard to what customers need and make sure we’re delivering technology in a way they want to consume it,” she says. “We listen to customers of every size and scale in 180 countries around the world – from startups to fortune 500 companies – then we innovate. One of the things that is unique about the Dell Technologies family is that we innovate based on what we hear and not just for innovation’s sake, across all the tech stacks from basic end points to massive cloud data centres.”
Making a difference to people’s lives is something Dell Technologies is primed to achieve with people like Vyvyan pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. She has always worked in tech and describes herself as ‘old school’. “I started in the mainframe era writing code, real code where you punched cards and fed them into machines, so I’ve got a programmer background,” she explains. “Only big business could afford IT at that point in time – it was complex. Then I worked through the Client Server era where IT became pervasive but in a basic sense. Most businesses of all scales got what I call base IT: HR and finance systems… CRM systems… ERP systems… Now we’re living through a third platform world, and we can see fourth platform world on the horizon, where IT is really starting to drive business and its less about function and more about how you bring new products and services to market for your customers. I’m lucky to have lived through the years when it started and see what IT has become. If I reflect back on the last 15 years, I don’t even want to think about what’s going to happen in the next 15 years because the art of the possible is just becoming possible.”