28 Mar How to measure your company’s degree of innovation
With the development of technology and simplified access to IoT sensors, Cloud services and information systems, it has become possible to implement solutions, with attractive cost-/ benefit ratios, for the digital transformation of companies. The molds sector has stood out, in Portugal and internationally, for its various forms of production and transformation, which are increasingly complex and automated, and for a sustained commitment to quality, innovation and added value. Based on the performance of the mold sector in Industry 4.0, find out in this article how to measure your company’s degree of innovation.
This text contains an excerpt from the article “Como medir o grau de inovação das empresas na Indústria 4.0”, by Cristina Barros, CEO of SINMETRO, published in the July 2021 edition of the magazine “O Molde”.
Industry 4.0 as a paradigm shift
The traditional production model was characterized by being associated with long product design and development stages. There was a dependence on physical prototypes, manual assembly, disassembly and maintenance tasks, and recording of control actions on paper and Excel sheets, which strongly undermined the efficiency, profitability and innovation capacity of companies.
Industry 4.0 catapulted the global, interconnected and radically open world in which the only certainty is uncertainty. It is said that this industrial revolution implies a change in attitude on the part of companies, because knowledge has become the most important element of production. In the sense that there is only innovation if there is research into new knowledge, based on current knowledge, which adds value to the market, as well as the consequent transfer to people, processes, products, technologies and business models.
In Industry 4.0, therefore, an attempt is made to change manual labor-intensive practices with no added value to digital manufacturing configurations, such as remote sensing and real-time monitoring. Based on an analysis of industrial requirements, digital functionalities capable of meeting specific needs are proposed, but also of providing valuable advantages for the competitiveness and respective innovation of companies.
Innovation in the mold sector
The mold sector is guided by the “Engineering by order” business model. That is, through the development of custom projects and a value chain and shop floor made up of discrete operations (market prospecting, budgeting, project management, design, engineering, staged production, testing, metrology, among others).
Each mold is a new challenge in terms of deadlines, specifications and geometric complexities. To respond positively, the mold sector, which needs to carry out studies to obtain the desired quality, reduce costs and meet deadlines, obtained from new technologies and methodologies ways of responding to all the details involved in the execution or manufacture of the mold in production.
In the case of manufacturing parts for the automotive industry, there are several phases to process, from the study of the received part, where the designer can suggest changes to facilitate the project or to reduce costs, study of the machine that will be used for the mold, execution from a preliminary 3D design, elaboration and modelling of mechanisms to the final design.
Prototyping is a clear example of how the path taken in recent years by the mold sector is due to the technological evolution of 3D virtual reality. This form of innovation allows engineering teams to transpose information provided by CAD systems and test products and manufacturing processes in a virtual reality environment, with the aim of detecting opportunities for improvement and critical failures, before their physical production.
How to measure your company’s degree of innovation?
Based on these assumptions of digital transformation that are implicit in the innovation process in Industry 4.0, and with the aim of assessing the speed, impact and degree of penetration of R&D and innovation projects in the market, we present you with a measurement tool.
“The Innovation Impact Board” was conceived by the CEO of SINMETRO to ensure the alignment of the R&D projects in which we participate, according to the company’s strategy and the needs and market trends.
The calculation of these KPIs and their constant monitoring and analysis are imperative to understand whether the plan defined for innovation is the most appropriate or if, at any moment, it may be necessary to explore new dimensions of innovation.
Today, it is imperative for companies to assume a mandate of differentiation, growth, expansion and internationalization, through the development of increasingly ambitious business models. This is called innovation.
We recognize that there are many challenges and uncertainties inherent in developing an ongoing culture of innovation. We would say that the main ones are really identifying the requirements of the technological infrastructure to be adopted, training people to implement these changes or having an idea of the fixed and annual costs that result from the implementation of a digitalization strategy. Even so, companies will need, sooner or later, to initiate a set of investments that go through the orbit of:
- Definition of a strategy that involves people in the change process from an early age and that leads to an integrated solution for the management of operations, information and knowledge.
- Implementation, using integration between systems, digitalization of operations, automation and IoT, a “Smart Factory” model, which ensures efficiency and the continuous flow of information, products and materials.
- Development of a Business Intelligence system to explore Big Data through an analytical view of data and performance indicators (KPIs).
- Promotion of implicit business logic that is only “in people’s heads” in algorithms that make this knowledge explicit.
- Traceability of security risks in the global network, through the adoption of cybersecurity systems.