April 26, 2023


Key Insight from NAMES 2023: Digital Transformation

Key Insight from NAMES 2023: Digital Transformation

The North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit brought together industry leaders to share their experiences, insights, and strategies on digital transformation and labor shortages, and to address longstanding challenges. MaintainX was eager to learn from and engage with these executives while also sharing success stories from our own clients.

In this blog post, we share our key takeaways from the event. We discuss how these insights can help manufacturers move forward in their digital transformation journey.

Digital Transformation: A Work in Progress

Many manufacturing leaders expressed concerns about being behind in their digital transformation journey. Transformation is an ongoing process and should be driven by solving real business problems, rather than simply deploying technology for the sake of keeping up. David Johnson, SVP of Manufacturing at Nissan, emphasized, “Find the long-standing problems you have, and if a technological solution fits, then give it a try.”

Empowering Frontline Teams

A common theme throughout the summit was the importance of empowering frontline teams to drive digital transformation. Several speakers highlighted the need for leader-led initiatives that are shop-floor activated, rather than driven by the C-Suite or through Corporate IT. Tami Hedgren, VP of Manufacturing at John Deere, suggested providing training materials on digital solutions to frontline teams and enabling them to collaborate and learn from their own problem areas. We see frontline teams leading the way firsthand every day.

“Your frontline team has the skills to drive improvement.”

Tami Hedgren, VP of Manufacturing at John Deere

Addressing Labor Shortages 

The labor shortage in manufacturing is still a pressing issue. The consensus was that the labor shortage doesn’t appear to be ending and the need to do more with less is more important than ever. The most successful organizations focus on making labor efficiency a top objective and working to improve retention by adopting innovative modern tools. As Natalie Wilkinson, VP of Vehicle Manufacturing Innovation at Toyota, aptly said, “Assets Depreciate. People Appreciate. Which one do you think your organization should focus on?”

Identifying and Overcoming Common Challenges

The NAMES summit highlighted several common challenges in the manufacturing industry, including making valuable use of data (or accurately capturing data at all), updating outdated core processes, and standardizing technology stacks. Executives shared frustrations about their inability to effectively drive and measure continuous improvement projects. Most leaders struggled to adequately measure the impact of their initiatives well enough to understand their effectiveness. A common theme: investments in digital transformation tools were failing due to their inability to get actionable insights into the hands of their frontline teams. 

Building the Business Case for Change

Many at the event expressed concerns about building the ROI case for implementing change on legacy systems. In these cases, it’s crucial to start with a business problem, as Torsten Pilz, SVP and Supply Chain Officer at Honeywell, said, “If your digital transformation is being driven by corporate IT, it’s going to fail. . . You have to start with the business problem.” By focusing on the business problem and working backward to involve technology, manufacturers can build a solid case for change.

North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit
The MaintainX team at the North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit in Fort Worth

NAMES, MaintainX, and Digital Transformation

The North American Manufacturing Excellence Summit provided valuable insights into the current state of the manufacturing industry and the challenges that leaders face. By focusing on solving real business problems, empowering frontline teams, and promoting modern technology solutions, manufacturers can successfully navigate their digital transformation journey. At MaintainX, we are dedicated to helping manufacturers overcome these challenges. Our platform is mission control for frontline teams: making it easier to standardize and optimize operations in order to embrace the future of manufacturing.

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Nick Haase
Nick Haase
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