Smart manufacturing playbook

Implementation guide for the manufacturing industry

To remain competitive, today’s manufacturers must absorb digital and advanced technologies across their business operations, including production. However, many manufacturers are still trying to develop their smart manufacturing vision and fully implement specific initiatives. Our smart manufacturing guide identifies a path forward to help manufacturers accelerate progress.

Improving return on smart manufacturing investments

In October 2020, Deloitte and the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation jointly launched a study, Accelerating smart manufacturing: The value of an ecosystem approach, to identify the ways in which smart manufacturing ecosystems can potentially accelerate smart factory initiatives. The study included an online survey of more than 1,000 executives at manufacturing companies across three key regions globally: North America, Europe, and Asia. It also included executive interviews with more than 12 leaders from manufacturing companies and ecosystem participants.

Pathways to build ecosystems in manufacturing industry

The study found that manufacturers are allocating 38% of their overall factory budgets to digital initiatives, implementing on average more than 10 smart manufacturing use cases. However, few participants have these use cases operational at one or more facility. How are certain manufacturers able to achieve faster progress and better returns on their investments?

In the study, while 73% of manufacturers surveyed indicated value from their external alliance partners, they may not be fully leveraging the power of the network to which they are connecting. This is where an ecosystem approach can dial up the results.

This smart manufacturing guide builds off the study to provide manufacturers actionable advice to building an ecosystem approach.

The ecosystem approach defined

A smart manufacturing ecosystem, similar to an innovation ecosystem, is formed when different entities come together in meaningful ways to solve shared challenges and meet shared objectives.

Ecosystems allow for greater capacity and flexibility in adapting to the new world at scale. This not only enhances competitiveness, but also helps to respond to disruptions better. Four primary types of ecosystems support initiatives in the smart manufacturing guide:

  • Production
  • Supply chain
  • Customer
  • Talent

The amplifying power of ecosystems

Ecosystems are generally driven by a convener who has the ability to connect business issues with an enabling platform. Multiple ecosystems can exist simultaneously, each with its unique vendor connections and capabilities.

Manufacturers, instead of reaching out directly to vendors, can approach such conveners of the ecosystems and gain access to specific technologies or enable certain use cases more quickly.

Manufacturers surveyed that joined ecosystems were able to create many more relationships, both directly and through their ecosystem conveners, and leverage them to accelerate their smart factory efforts.

One key to success is understanding how to effectively manage these connections to amplify their impact.

Pathways to an ecosystem approach

The ecosystem approach can work, but it’s not easy. It requires a deliberate method that often involves an executive commitment to solving priority business issues with smart manufacturing and the creation of a road map with important milestones.

Then, to support the road map, manufacturers often reach out to their ecosystem to build an enabling platform with an enterprise architecture. Curating connections strategically, manufacturers then accelerate their initiatives while determining which specific advanced capabilities to cultivate in-house.

A smart manufacturing implementation framework to consider:


Steps to start your smart manufacturing ecosystem

  • Define scope: Don’t build capabilities you don’t need to. If you understand the nature of the business issue, the scope of the solution becomes easier to understand.
  • Act with speed: Speed is one of the key benefits of tapping into an ecosystem.
  • Scale fast: It’s easy to do a proof of concept in an unscalable way. The ecosystem is ready to scale your test case. It brings scalable capabilities that are ready to respond.
  • Systemize the process: Create repeatable steps so that as you continue to activate new business use cases, you can tap into the ecosystem more readily.

Want to learn more about the value of smart manufacturing ecosystems? Read our full report.

Fullwidth SCC. Do not delete! This box/component contains JavaScript that is needed on this page. This message will not be visible when page is activated.

Did you find this useful?