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A tactical and strategic move for injection moulding 4.0

A tactical and strategic move for injection moulding 4.0

Articles

Industry 4.0 technologies have already started to permeate the entire injection moulding value chain in the last few years. However, many SMEs are still stuck with tackling day-to-day manufacturing pain points, legacy business models, and constrained resources. These are major bottlenecks to digital transformation. A solution is needed to help these SMEs target these bottlenecks with surgical precision and effectiveness.

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Through working with hundreds of Asian SMEs in the plastic industry, consultancy firm iPlast 4.0 has designed a unique and effective Industry 4.0 adoption framework. The framework covers challenging scenarios commonly seen in Production Shop Floor Management, Enterprise Management, Supply Chain Management, Circular Economy and Energy Management. Coupled with a customised digital transformation roadmap, this adoption framework creates SMART deliverables: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.

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As with any journey, one needs to know where you are first, before you can reach your destination. iPlast 4.0’s framework starts with an Injection Moulding 4.0 Readiness Check to figure out objectively the enterprise’s current status, including leadership, team competency and the operational excellence metrics. The strengths and weaknesses analysed in this readiness check will become meaningful references to establish the Digital Transformation Roadmap, and executed through an Injection Moulding 4.0 Model Factory Cell (MFC).

Think big, start small, and do it right now!
In short, an MFC is a microcosm of the factory, set up to implement the Digital Transformation Roadmap. The setup can be greenfield or brownfield, according to the available resources. More importantly the MFC represents the enterprise’s determination to evolve and transform. Through the MFC, siloed departments are pulled together to collaborate in new ways, to lead, and to perform.

The MFC also functions as a unique and practical learning facility for strengthening or developing both job-specific and digital skills for both current employees and future talents. The holistic plastic domain training incorporated in iPlast 4.0’s MFC, such as scientific moulding, smart maintenance, smart automation and smart manufacturing can effectively ensure the employees apply what they have learned, from the theoretical to daily hands-on practices, in a PDCA (Plan-Do-Check-Act) positive cycle.

Shock troops are formations created to lead an attack. They are better trained and equipped than others, and typically organised for mobility. Through the MFC, the enterprise is effectively training a group of elite troops to lead its digital transformation battle.
To date, iPlast 4.0’s MFC projects in Asia have created on average 30-50% improvements in metrics like cycle time, rejection rate, and operating cost, typically within 6 to 12 months.

Not only a tactic, but also a strategy

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The MFC also sharpens and forges another core competency for SMEs - a new digital culture that always seeks and harvests actionable insights through the effective use of data. Starting with the elite troops, this culture can spread to the rest of the troops in the factory.

It is important to remind ourselves that automation is not Industry 4.0. Rather, it is the capability to utilise IIoT (Industrial Internet of Things) to create data-driven value-add that defines Industry 4.0. On one level, MFC is a practical tactic for SMEs to achieve “operational excellence” through daily practice, with the intention to replicate the excellence to other projects: more smart production lines, next generation smart cells etc. However, at a strategic level, the MFC also helps to identify clear digital transformation goals that advance the enterprise. iPlast 4.0’s MFC is a tactical and strategic initiative that should not be overlooked.

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