Building a Factory of the Future with SAP Leonardo and Fujitsu

One of the biggest mistakes companies can make on the road to connected manufacturing is taking ideas to developers while keeping decision-makers from the business out of the loop.

I recently listened to two experts at the annual SAPPHIRE NOW + ASUG Annual Conference who had a different take on how companies can build a smart factory quickly to improve efficiencies, reduce costs, strengthen competitiveness, and create new routes to market.

“We hear the term ‘fail fast’ all the time, but why fail at all?” said Raymond Russ, senior director of SAP Solutions at the Fujitsu Center of Excellence. “If you do the right amount of planning with the business, you can create an IoT strategy that will work to connect your company.”

Here are the highlights of the Fujitsu Smart Factory framework Russ laid out with his colleague James Zhang, director of SAP Connected Manufacturing at the Fujitsu Center of Excellence.

We hear the term ‘fail fast’ all the time, but why fail at all?

Band-Aid Solutions Aren’t the Cure

James Zhang, Director of SAP Connected Manufacturing at the Fujitsu Center of Excellence, laid out the framework of the Fujitsu Smart Factory. Image via SAP.
James Zhang laid out the framework of the Fujitsu Smart Factory

Leading analysts predict the IoT market will impact GDP by $10 trillion, and manufacturing facilities comprise a hefty slice of the opportunity pie. But the stark truth is that 20 percent of North American manufacturing companies haven’t connected their machines to the internet. Among those organizations that are exploring IoT, Zhang said many are missing the mark with only quick PoCs and pilots in targeted areas.

“The major challenge we’ve found is that you need to also understand the big picture,” said Zhang. “To solve your business process you don’t need a band-aid solution. You need to optimize the entire manufacturing model. You need to look at what the smart factory means for your company and what business outcomes you need.”

Understand It’s a Journey

Zhang said the ideal approach to creating a connected enterprise is to develop a road map that shows the future, while also focusing on projects that deliver business value in a few months.

“Combining Fujitsu’s DNA as a manufacturer with SAP’s platform and technologies is helping our shared customers transform their supply chain and demonstrate a strong business case,” he said. “When you talk with your C-suite in this way, they can see it’s a strong initiative.”

Connected Manufacturing Case Study

Using predefined accelerators, companies can speed up co-creation of IoT-powered solutions for faster outcomes. One example Zhang shared was a building materials company with over 50 facilities worldwide and aggressive growth plans to double its business in the next year. They needed to improve operational efficiency and quality by connecting information from shop floor machines with processes and workers including inspection, planning, production execution, predictive maintenance and reliability. Using digital innovations from SAP Leonardo and Fujitsu, the company reduced time-to-value by over 50 percent with outcomes in just five weeks.

Transforming Business Models

The smart factory streams vast amounts of real-time information from machines on the shop floor or in the field to people doing their daily jobs. Sensors and software deliver actionable intelligence that not only changes planning, operations and maintenance for the better, but also business models. Zhang said that SAP and Fujitsu are co-innovating with companies to use artificial intelligence (AI) with natural language processing, as well as augmented reality and wearables for maintenance instructions, remote collaboration and warehouse picking.

“There’s big potential for these technologies to increase efficiencies on the shop floor, saving time and increasing productivity,” said Zhang. “Think about if you link this technology with your service organization. You can improve your whole business model from selling products and equipment to selling services.”

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