Industry 4.0 is often viewed as the ability of companies to use data in a manner which is unprecedented by the application of modern IT and supplemental technologies. However, achieving the level of digitalization required for an ideal Industry 4.0 level operation can’t possibly be achieved without the people and processes of the company truly embracing the digitalization initiative and rallying towards better utilization of the technology associated with it to bring meaningful changes and derive genuine value.
Experts and consulting companies play a major role in assisting with this transition, which may determine the very viability of the business in the long run. Companies generally engage a number of vendors and consultants for helping them prepare for and wade through the digitalization journey. Operations consultants look at current processes and roles of people within them, whereas technology vendors focus on facets of the whole operation, depending on their expertise, ranging from automation to data analytics and process execution to workforce optimization.
Traditional consulting, however, is broken, in the sense that most consulting companies focus on people and processes, primarily considering technology as merely a tool to achieve set deliverables. This lack of clarity hurts businesses. Technology companies on the other hand focus on the installation of their tech, rarely ever focusing on its management and acceptance, especially indirect interactions, which leads to user frustration and less than optimal value derivation. Ideally, Industry 4.0 needs consulting that looks beyond people and process, into technology and business sustainability. This is what we refer to as Consulting 4.0, and where Critical Manufacturing’s Referral Partner, Magellan Consulting Group, is breaking the mold of traditional consulting by helping its clients make the most of their digitalization efforts.
So, what does Consulting 4.0 look like?
Without technology today, management solutions cannot be sustainable. Magellan as a company brings technology and its implementation to the mix of process optimization and people management. When technology is treated not just as a necessary element, and having more data not as just another deliverable or an incremental improvement, the management of the technology, and therefore the derived data and its interplay with processes and people, creates true and tangible value, faster than ever ROI and sustainable change, which is the purpose of Industry 4.0.
With technology and utilization through modification of processes as the centerpiece of their consulting philosophy, Magellan focuses on building people across the organization into enablers and adopters of positive change, which in turn helps make changes sustainable. It ensures that business results aren’t a one-time achievement, but carries on, delivering value over long term.
Consulting 4.0 has its roots in a well-tested and highly successful methodology. Magellan rightly calls it ‘Business Transformation Consulting.’ Let’s briefly understand the process involved.
- Consultation- The first step in the Consulting 4.0 paradigm is to get acquainted with the company, its people, and its process, which when put together constitute the way in which a company creates and delivers value. At this point, Magellan seeks to understand current challenges and improvement opportunities. What is unique in the approach is that it looks beyond process and its interaction with personnel, to identify gaps which can be alleviated by the infusion of technology and data. The logical conclusion to this stage is to present to the client a detailed proposal to perform a thorough diagnostic analysis of the business process.
- Diagnostic- Once the leadership of the company reviews and assesses the need for digital transformation, the next step is to perform an exact diagnosis of the operation. At this stage, the ‘as is’ state is mapped against the opportunities identified earlier, and a clear set of priorities emerge, which can be classified into short-term wins and long-term improvements. It is vital to stress here that in implementation consulting, this stage would also include estimation of technological requirements and use of foundational Industry 4.0 tools like a MES data platform. Areas of operations which can benefit from the use of Industry 4.0 technologies are mentioned in this plan and include a list of possible solutions and vendors suited to the given industry segment. The key is to note that the consultant goes beyond merely recommending solutions. They ensure implementation of the proposed solution in coordination with company personnel, the vendor’s experts and their own staff. The whole Diagnostic process normally does not take more than three weeks. Based on the areas identified, a roadmap for business transformation [from status-quo to an Industry 4.0-ready operation] is created and subsequently the business case is solidified with a clear ROI projection to be attained.
- Project- This is where it starts to get interesting. Typically, the project to achieve a discernible positive change takes anywhere from four to twelve months. Anything less than that– the results might not be sustainable, and anything over, the ROI projections start to get compromised. In this stage of the Consulting 4.0 cycle, customized solutions begin to take shape and the industry experience of the consultant engaged comes into the picture. If the consultant has enough experience in the given industry segment, the solutions will be pointed to address both the immediate and the long-term pain points. Data flow, areas of data loss and the need to harness and provide the right stakeholders information-rich, contextual data in real-time is a focus at this stage. If implementation proceeds as envisioned, this stage will start generating results in operations, with continuous coaching and development happening simultaneously for frontline workers and management alike. If all goes to plan, custom solutions in place start delivering the results set at the beginning of the project. The most important takeaway is that right from a proposed solution– be it for a functional improvement like adding a WMS application for warehouse management, or an overarching application like MES, the consultant should be able to engage vendors, personnel and staff to deliver results which are repeatable and make the operation more resilient.
- Sustainability- Most consulting companies follow the first three steps (Consultation, Diagnostics and Project), but very few focus on sustainability of the results achieved. Magellan Consulting has identified this step as their differentiator. Consultants tend to move on once a project has reached its end. This is a juncture where inertia to change starts to appear and results start to dwindle. Transformation to an Industry 4.0-level operation at times requires fundamental change in the way a process functions. This requires constant follow-up and continued guidance, which is the most important aspect of the Consulting 4.0 paradigm. According to Magellan’s methodology, after project completion, a sustainability roadmap is put in place, augmented by constant and timely follow-ups, training and recalibration of solutions to ensure improvements continue to deliver results and become embedded in the company’s culture and operational DNA. This process, which may extend well up to twelve months, includes ownership performance, accountability and audits to measure progress.
Consulting, when performed keeping technology and data in focus and their interaction with the people involved and the value delivery process, generates tangible results, which should be sustainable and make the whole business more agile and resilient. Magellan has been able to deliver amazing results across diverse industry segments, which can be found here.
As an example, one of Magellan’s customers, a global engineering group with a $7 Billion turnover, was able to achieve over 26% in throughput, over 33% in OEE and over 17% increase in sales with the use of Industry 4.0 levers. Applied across the operation, the goals were to digitize operations by reducing paper/Excel based work and using IIoT and advanced data analytics. These improvements might seem extraordinary and beyond reach, but they can become a reality with the right consulting partner.
Magellan’s approach to consultancy and digital transformation is a great example showing that even services which assist businesses do better, need to transform themselves in order to effect positive transformation in their clients’ operations.
It is critical for companies to understand and work with experts who go beyond risk-free consulting, and are willing to get their ‘hands dirty’ and work not just in board rooms, but on the shop floor with actual workers and staff. Consultants who will be able to deliver results for Industry 4.0 level transformation are facilitators who will not only bring IoT, AI, ML, AR/VR, Cloud, MES and Automation into a process, but stay to ensure proper implementation, then provide the support and follow-up required to ensure the results achieved are sustainable, measurable and impactful for the organization.