Digitalization allows a plant to manage day-to-day performance safely and reliably, so that it can respond to swings in market dynamics, operate at a true optimum, and squeeze down on the gap between potential and realized profitability. It also enables a process operation to extend its problem-solving ecosphere beyond the plant: to engage the support, brainpower and technologies of the plant’s key partners, customers and suppliers who can each bring their own specific expertise and experience to augment the plant’s own capabilities and resources.
Digitalization can turn a distracted organization that is bogged down in reacting to day-to-day issues and inundated with data, information and advice, into an agile, well-oiled machine that proactively anticipates issues and organizes to prioritize and solve them before they escalate. Done right, it creates revenue, improves business performance (not just process), solves problems that could not be solved before, empowers personnel and makes them more effective. It builds a culture with digital information at the core.
And now is the time to Digitalize. Digitalization has been enabled by rapid growth in technology capabilities and the acceptance of new business models. Most in the industry are only just beginning their Digitalization journey, but some are already embracing it and are pulling themselves ahead of the rest. It creates and sustains competitive advantage, and those who are not Digitalizing now are being left behind – they will be consumed in the market place.
Plants should not delay and should start any one of a number of ‘quick win’ Digitalization projects now. The right project depends on where the plant is on its Digitalization journey, but what is important is that it mobilizes the workforce to embrace a culture of Digitalization and convinces the executives who hold the purse strings that their investments are reasonable and in safe hands, bringing noticeable and measurable returns.
By embracing Digitalization, the future will look very different. Decisions will be streamlined, and conclusions will be drawn with more certainty; operational execution will be largely automated; and people will be empowered with a wider scope of accountability resulting in greater job satisfaction. The digitally wise will operate plants with a massively reduced number of unexpected events; excellent levels of reliability, safety performance and environmental compliance; and extraordinary efficiency. There’s no time like the present and that’s why the time to Digitalize is now.