Keep up with Machine Shop Digitalization

Sandvik Coromant’s recent roundtable discussion of machine shop digitalization focused on three key ideas: Digitalization is a competitive advantage. The investment is reasonable and has a quick payback. Shops must start the journey now or get left behind.


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Sandvik Coromant live-streamed the panel discussion on its Facebook page. Visit that page for more videos from the event.

Sandvik Coromant recently hosted a roundtable discussion about machine shop digitalization led by a panel of digital manufacturing experts at the Center for Manufacturing Innovation in Greenville, South Carolina. Panelists included representatives from Vimana, GE Power, Cisco, Sandvik, Okuma, Microsoft, Mastercam, Rockwell Automation, MakeTime, Praemo, and the Commonwealth Center for Advanced Manufacturing.

William Sobel, Vimana’s chief strategy officer and co-founder, says that the panel went into detail on what it means for manufacturers to “go digital.” Vimana is a software and services provider that offers operational transparency to plant and enterprise-wide performance, so manufacturers can uncover ways to improve efficiency, quality, cycle time, cost reduction and responsiveness to customers. 

In the course of the discussion, he says the panelists reviewed the difficulties of starting from nothing and offered simple solutions and valuable tips on how to begin.

Here are his three main takeaways from the event:

1. It is imperative to move to digitalization to create the digital factory.

  • It’s here now and growing exponentially.
  • Within five years, the digital factory will be widely adopted.
  • Early adopters will stay in business and gain a competitive advantage.

2. The reasons for digitalization are compelling.

  • The move improves profit. It will grow revenue and reduce operating costs. It is likely to achieve an average 3-percent boost in incremental revenue on each machine. This increase alone justifies the technology investment.
  • The return on investment (ROI) is quick. The investment can be recouped in just six weeks by simply understanding machine utilization.
  • The investment is reasonable. Most shops will find that the cost is not prohibitive. Shops are advised to think big, start small, and expand rapidly.

3. Starting on the digital journey in manageable. The journey is transformative rather than disruptive. Some solutions are turnkey and can be implemented today and leveraged as technology evolves. These steps were recommended for entry:

  • Connect and capture data from disparate devices such as CNC equipment, manual machines and additive manufacturing systems.
  • Start with three data elements and pursue improved operational performance.
  • Analyze and visualize the data for insight.
  • Have experts help interpret the data and guide improvement actions.

The overarching message to machine shops was to start now and avoid being left behind.