Cisco Canada Blog

Digital manufacturing: Are Canadian manufacturers ready?

August 20, 2018

Two studies were released recently that paint a vivid picture of the Canadian manufacturing landscape. The first, Manufacturing Automation’s Canadian Manufacturing Study, was initially cause for optimism: 25 per cent, 17 per cent, and 11 per cent of manufacturers here plan to invest in bridging the IT/OT gap, the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), and cybersecurity best practices over the next three years.

These number are lower than investments by global peers, but are an improvement over where manufacturers were a few years ago.

Then I read the results of Capgemini’s study – “Digital Engineering: The new growth engine for discrete manufacturers” – and I saw just how far behind Canadian manufacturers truly are.

There is no denying it. Canadian manufacturers are just not prepared to compete in the future of digital manufacturing.

Consider these results:

Canadian Manufacturing Study: 17% of manufacturers plan to invest in the IIoT and digital transformation over the next three years.

Digital Engineering study: Manufacturers predict close to 50% of their products to be smart and connected by 2020.

Canadian Manufacturing Study: 6% of manufacturers are currently using big data and analytics solutions.

Digital Engineering study: The most successful manufacturers are using technology to analyze and put into action 93% of the data they produce.

Canadian Manufacturing Study: 11% of manufacturers plan to invest in cybersecurity best practices over the next three years.

Digital Engineering Study: 72% of the most successful manufacturers, and 60% overall, are leveraging cybersecurity solutions to promote a culture of innovation.

The fact remains that as Canadian manufacturers struggle to adopt advanced technologies, competitors outside of our borders are not, and we need to catch up.

So how can Canadian manufacturers prepare for the future of digital manufacturing?

1. Invest in different kinds of talent.

The Canadian Manufacturing Study identified the availability of skilled labour as the number one barrier to a manufacturer’s future competitiveness. This is for good reason, as fewer students are entering programs essential to factory operations. But it is time to look beyond the floor to talent with non-physical skills such as cybersecurity, software, and data analytics. It is these skills that will help manufacturers improve their digital capabilities, optimize results, and benefit from advanced technologies. It’s no coincidence the Capgemini study predicts these hires are expected to grow up to 50% globally by 2020.

2. Focus on utilizing the data you are already collecting from your machine and connected devices.

According to a release from the IoT World Forum, just 26% of IoT projects are considered a complete success. Two of the biggest factors contributing to the perceived failure rate of IoT projects are scope and follow through. Often, companies define a scope that is too large to accurately track and measure the data collected; they also often get excited about the bells and whistles of connected devices without investing in the analytics required to turn that data into action.

Instead of starting a new, or large, IoT project, Canadian manufacturers should focus on understanding the data they are already collecting and how that can be used to optimize operations. If your factory doesn’t utilize any connected devices or sensors, a small pilot is the best way to understand how the IoT can impact your factory environment.

3. Create a digital vision.

According to the Capgemini study, 92% of successful manufacturers have created a digital vision and roadmap to monitor progress. For Canadian manufacturers to catch up to global peers, they need to create a digital vision that clearly articulates why your organization is adopting digital technologies.

What does becoming a ‘digital manufacturer’ mean to you? Why is it important that everyone in your company embrace these changes? What will it mean for your customers? For your employees? With an established digital vision, manufacturers will be better equipped to make the right technology decisions for their operations.

Ready to digitize your factory environment? Start with these resources:


Cisco Kinetic for Manufacturing At-a-Glance


Cisco Connected Factory – Network At-a-Glance


Free eBook: How to start your journey on the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT)



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