Digital Transformation: Give Your Machines a Voice


Learn about the digital possibilities that lie in the manufacturing sector.

Digital transformation discussions tend to focus on extracting and analysing data within a discrete network. In this article, we discuss how you can equip your machines to communicate with operators along a unified cloud-based communications system that integrates direct-dial and mobile voice comms, on and off-site, with data and video.

Mitel’s Head of Manufacturing Sector Steve Powell and Daisy’s Manufacturing Account Manager Wendy Broughton were asked to outline the possibilities.

Daisy and Mitel have been working together as strategic partners for many years, and both companies fully understand the digital journey manufacturers find themselves on.

“We’re very much a business that’s moved from legacy communications hardware to being a software and services business, and now a global provider of cloud communication services,” Steve Powell said.

“It’s a classic digital transformation story. We totally get it that most manufacturers have failed to invest in communications technology for many years because they’ve not seen it as a strategy asset.

“Now they’re starting to appreciate that without real-time communications and collaboration, they’re never going to see the full benefits that digital transformation promises.”

Fixing the digital ‘Tower of Babel’

A major part of the problems is that over the years, manufacturers have relied on an incompatible mix of old legacy PBX assets, often from different vendors, so that at the digital level, different parts of a business actually can’t talk to each other.

“That is a real problem,” Wendy Broughton said. “It is very easy for different parts of a business to become detached from each other, almost siloed.

“Giving them a unified voice communication platform is just the start. Using machine-based technology, IoT machine-learning and artificial intelligence means we can tie together voice, video, mobile and online communication channels, to deliver a seamless and contextually aware workflow experience. It means we can help manufacturers now improve internal workflows.

“This means the communication process can be taken right down to the level of the machine, giving it a real voice. A sensor can detect a problem, then trigger an SMS to the on-call maintenance engineer, wherever they may be, so they can then plan a repair, arrange spare parts and the service call, minimising, or even completely preventing machine downtime.”

Steve and Wendy both underscored the power of unified communications in reassuring machine operators that technology is an enabler, not a threat.

Transforming productivity

“When you can show an operator the value in integrating real-time communications collaboration with the other key applications that they’re using on the shop floor, and you can deliver that on a smart device that keeps them up to date, makes them far more productive, far more efficient and gives them ways to innovate within their day-to-day activities, you’re likely to break down some of those barriers to technology adoption.

“I think that all some operators are hearing about is ‘robots are going to take over the world’. Well, this gives them an opportunity to see how value can be added to their role through transformational technologies.”

This article was originally published in The Manufacturer, May 2018

Simon Wright

About Simon Wright

Simon Wright was formerly Head of PR, Communications and Engagement at Daisy Group. He left the company in 2018 for pastures new.