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Case study

Manufacturing the future – A global innovator of metal components moves forward with an end-to-end solution

Client: Global manufacturer of metal components

Our Role: Demonstrate how our Smart Factory insights could help the company achieve its goal to optimize the potential of the new machines by automating and integrating the operations technology and IT architecture layers.

Industry: Industrial Manufacturing

Services: Operations, Technology, Data and analytics.

Client Challenge:

Modernizing is more than machines

Our client, a global manufacturer of metal components, had embraced the digital world with a major investment in new automation equipment for the shop floor. With upwards of 40,000 new products every year and hundreds of thousands of product variations, the factory automation upgrade will help increase productivity, address labor shortages, and improve flexibility and responsiveness.

Parts and products weren’t the only things in abundance. The company had 30 different data systems across its world-wide operations. To get the most benefit from robotics and automation, the company would also need to consolidate and integrate its disparate processes and systems to create a more seamless operation. The company wanted help thinking through the next steps on the digital journey, including developing a future-ready, secure Information (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) architecture upon which digital factory solutions and automation would be built.


Quantifying potential with a Smart Factory solution

Procurement of the new equipment was underway when the company’s Chief Technology and Chief Information Officers attended a PwC “Get Smart, Get Moving” presentation and were introduced to our Smart Factory solution. To demonstrate how our Smart Factory insights could help the company achieve its goal -- to optimize the potential of the new machines by automating and integrating the operations technology and IT architecture layers -- we presented the Smart Factory approach to stakeholders from across the company. We brought PwC’s multi-competency team with experience in strategy, manufacturing, and digital technology and teamed with the client’s cross-functional transformation group to provide insights as they created a step-by-step Smart Factory vision and roadmap.

First, we considered the company’s systems and identified five key capabilities or use cases related to such topics as scheduling, tool management and manufacturing execution. Next, we helped the client evaluate the technology options for each capability, considered how to navigate gaps in readiness (maturity levels) and ways to leverage or augment the company’s existing infrastructure. We designed the Reference Architecture, a blueprint outlining the options for digital platforms, software, hardware, and networks, and the connectivity between each of these Smart Factory “layers.”  We considered off-the-shelf products, buy-and-customize options, and make-and-build models, along with an evaluation of on-premise, cloud, and edge computing possibilities.

Developing a Reference Architecture (Version1.0) helped the company begin to ask the right questions internally and across its ecosystem of external partnerships around digital needs and options. The architecture greatly decreased the time needed to navigate the market and gain an understanding of current gaps and future requirements. Plans for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term customized for each capability, and designed to get value from the new equipment most quickly, supported the “get smart, get moving” strategy. Finally, our Smart Factory solution included a holistic review of the company’s operating model, cybersecurity, issues related to tax reform, and governance structure, as well as the communications and change management strategies that would enable the transformation.


With top to bottom integration, the future starts now

The future of manufacturing will be driven, like the future of so many industries, by data, data and more data, and the capabilities to visualize, analyze, and act on the insights from that data. Our client is now equipped with short-to-long range strategies for staying competitive in an increasingly data-rich environment. The company has a step-by-step roadmap for setting the Smart Factory transformation in motion, with plans for harmonizing business rules, selecting technology vendors and building the key capabilities to automate processes across its global enterprise. The Reference Architecture will underpin technology plans and decisions for integration going forward and help sustain the transformation effort. The company had publicly committed to an investment of $300 million with the goal of achieving $200-300 million in annual productivity improvements through factory automation and is on track to meet its goal. This project and the digital roadmap that PwC helped to develop was viewed as a key enabler to achieving the committed benefits. The way forward is outcomes focused from shop floor to top floor.

“As the project evolved, and with stakeholders from across the company engaged in the transformation, there was genuine excitement around the opportunities that automating and integrating factory operations would create.”

Steve Pillsbury, Advisory, Partner, PwC

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Steve Pillsbury

Partner, PwC US

Karim Bibawi

Principal, Digital & Technology Innovation, PwC US

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