GDM: a paradigm shift from hardware manufacturing to IoT as a service
In recent times, the manufacturing machinery industry has undergone a profound reorganization of its digital strategy. Several factors are behind this:
- First, an increase in competition across the board, combined with a global trend towards premiumization (both in terms of product and machinery effectiveness), has pushed market players in the field into investing more and more in research and development
- At the same time, the demand for simplicity has been increasing among industrial customers, while consumers are requesting more and more complex products with high-performing features, putting significant pressure on production costs
- Indeed, to fulfil the evolving needs of the market and satisfy such diverse expectations, the manufacturing machinery industry is going through a major paradigm shift - from a vertical focus on hardware manufacturing to a horizontal Industry 4.0 strategy encompassing hardware, software, and services, where concepts such as smart manufacturing, data analysis, and Internet of Things become central. This is not just a restyling. On the contrary, it is a through and through rethinking of industrial manufacturing’s business model, head to toe, with far-reaching implications on its value chain.
Let’s enter into details about the GDM and Coesia Group digital approach from an insider perspective, starting with the new WebHMI.
WebHMI: innovation starts with the user experience
“The development of the new GDM and Coesia WebHMI has been driven by an overarching trend towards digitalization” starts the GDM Automation Supervisor. Usability and user experience were two primary factors during the design of the platform. Responsiveness, portability, and cross-platform compatibility were also instrumental. The HMI must be device-agnostic, work from anywhere, and feel natural. At the same time, it has to be easily integrated with third-party applications without making tradeoffs on security. That is also why the platform is built on tried and tested standards for the web, such as HTML5.
“No previous knowledge of computer science is required to use it”, points out the GDM representative. “HMI navigation is based on either the product or the machine location. The machine settings are integrated in the recipe handling, and every parameter adjustment is directed by the software. Process limits are defined and controlled for every machine parameter.”
The most significant improvement, though, lies in the power of data analysis. “The WebHMI is no longer just a control panel” adds the Automation Supervisor. “Now it is possible to extract and analyze production and process data. While the former is essential for management, the latter embodies the knowledge of the production floor.”
Statistical analysis of historical data enables a whole new kind of operations that previously were inconceivable. Thanks to machine learning algorithms, real-time diagnostics and predictive maintenance become a reality, making it possible for the operator to detect machine failures at an earlier stage, if not before they even happen, massively impacting the machine lifecycle as well as scheduling and resource optimization. “Ultimately, the new GDM WebHMI is the front end for the just-in-time manufacturing.”
Yet usability is not the only aspect that has been majorly improved. Let's now give a closer look to the digital documentation and its significance within WebHMI and GDM's new digital approach.
Digital Documentation: making the information available when it's needed
As for any technical product, the digital documentation is of paramount importance. For this reason, GDM has optimized each and any element, from usability to the time required for consultation. Usually, the technical documentation is a handbook; sometimes, it is digital. In either case, it is always pulled out by the operator, which then has to find what is looking for, often by untangling a web of technicalities.
That’s why GDM has decided to turn documentation on its toes. Rather than a “pull documentation”, that needs to always be retrieved by the user, this is a “push documentation”. Indeed, when the operator uses a machine, the machine itself shows the relevant documentation, without any effort by the operator. To dive deeper into the matter, we've reached out to the GDM Manufacturing Manager.
“Integration is the key”, explains the Manufacturing Manager. “It is the process of combining different information and instruction into a single, unified view. For this reason, the HMI operator is going to find the answers that he needs exactly when and where he needs them. WebHMI is not only a control tool, but also a new access point to instruction, troubleshooting, settings and any useful information on the unit on which the operator is working.”
As for data analytics, no previous knowledge of computer science is required. On the contrary, the user interface is entirely visual, and designed to be immediate from the get-go. "Our customers want to make the best product for their customers, and they want to do it in the easiest way. To answer this need, we rethought the structure of our documentation using self-supporting content and overcoming the limitations of traditional documentation, achieving better scalability and quick updates. This allows an easy, intuitive access to the information."
Webshop and Remote Assistance: a new way to create value for the customer
In the context of a shift from industrial manufacturing to IoT as a service, it is crucial to build a closer relationship with the customers and create value for them. To do this, it is necessary to modernize both the remote assistance and the shopping experience and make
GDM provides a first-class experience to its customers and, according to the GDM Customer Service Manager, both the Webshop and the Remote Assistance go in this direction, covering the need to have everything at hand. “Remote Assistance is especially vital for our customers” he comments, “as it gives them the chance to have an expert at their disposal through a priority line. This help is critical in times of need, and in particular in case of issues and under pressure.”
The Webshop – our tailor-made online platform for spare parts ordering - on the other hand, is accessible directly from the machine, so to assist the customer in his daily need of spare parts. "Easy access to technical info, prices, availability and lead-times through visual and interactive interface is essential for maintenance and sourcing people.”
Digital is truly the present and the future of GDM. The company is actively working to provide cutting-edge tools and advanced services to its customers based on its profound process and product know-how.
“It is not just about IoT and connectivity. It is about how to use these tools to create value for the customer.
All in all, GDM’s process know-how remains the cornerstone on which everything is built, but thanks to new inputs from the field, combined with complex algorithms, we can finally switch from a reactive to a proactive concept of assistance. We want to help our customers prevent and possibly avoid issues, so as to improve the performances of our machines. At the same time, our goal is to let our customers feel that GDM is close to their business needs and an active part of their success.”
New tools, meant to make the process not only easier but also more accurate, are being developed this very moment. To do this, special consideration is being given not just to IoT and connectivity, but also to user experience and, broadly speaking, to the customer expectations and needs. The goal of GDM is unchanged: to help the customer achieve its goals. This is the way. To get more advanced and, at the same time, more human.
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