The Future will Look Nothing Like the Past

Booth Welsh is a technology company, with a strong capability in EC&I and a bias towards process control and automation. Over the past two years, we have  embraced Industry 4.0 (or digitalisation) and recognise the value it can bring to manufacturing. As efficiencies gained through traditional process automation and other cost reduction methods slows, digitalisation technology can often be seen as the only way to achieve another step change in efficiency.

The term Industry 4.0 offers an opportunity for businesses to make a step change in performance by creating new business models that are based on what has become commonly known as “digitalisation”. Although the digital age has been with us for some time, its growth has been of an exponential nature to a point where technology is now able to host the concept of digitalisation and present it as a means to deliver new approaches for business.

As a result, Booth Welsh embarked on our own Digital Journey. Martin Welsh, Managing Director at Booth Welsh describes the journey so far and why it is so important.

“As a company which has used technology in our service offering for almost 30 years we have become used to the changes and benefits it can bring. With digitalisation however this is the most significant change I have seen to date. The convergence of the Internet of Things, Big Data and the other pillars of Industry 4.0 along with Artificial Intelligence will drive immense changes through every business. Our strategy and services need to change in order that we remain at the forefront of this new world.

I see digitalisation as an area of strong growth for Booth Welsh. It also presents an opportunity to enhance our customer’s productivity, quality and flexibility. Digitalisation allows manufacturers to more accurately measure, control, analyse, maintain and visualise the production cycle. It also enables flexibility in the supply chain and the capability to be more responsive to your own customer and consumer demands.

As part of our own new growth strategy we have also embedded a strong innovation culture. This enables the use of new technologies and how we can best use them to deliver value and benefits to both our business and our customers.”

Mapping our Services to Industry 4.0

Our journey started by initially mapping our services to the nine defined pillars of Industry 4.0.  We found that a number of the pillars matched, or were strongly linked, to Booth Welsh’s classical integrated engineering services.  These included System Integration, Data Analytics, Internet of Things (IoT), Simulation and Augmented Reality.

We have been investing in these pillars to develop the potential service offerings and showcase to clients how they can enhance operational efficiency, reduce downtime, improve decision making and safety performance and achieve a ‘Right First Time’ approach.

As the boundaries of the technologies encompassed by digitalisation grow, and the rate at which they are being developed increases, it is essential to know the limits of your capabilities and when to collaborate with subject matter experts.  For example, we jointly produced our business baselining tool with Infinity Automation from the Life & Chemical Sciences industry.  We are also currently working with partners such as Strathclyde University’s AFRC on a PhD project entitled “Developing the Augmented Millennium Worker” and Xpert rules on a proof of concept on advance process control using AI and data.

Co-creation is a strong theme which will run through most businesses adopting Industry 4.0 technology in the coming years and weare privileged to be working with many partners recently who are experts in their fields of various digitalisation elements. Often it can be a daunting first step for our customers when considering Industry 4.0 benefits, and the first question they ask is “Where do we begin?”. Collaborating with our relevant industry partners, we have defined a process whereby our customers can baseline their business and assess their digital readiness. This starts with an overview of the baseline process and understanding the clients Business Drivers and Operating Model. From this high level starting point we complete four steps ultimately creating a digital vision for their business.

To complement the adoption and deployment of digitalisation and realise the full potential, an open and innovative approach to engagement and ownership will further enhance business productivity. New processes to suggest, improve and develop are likely to have been considered by operational staff and can be collected and developed with an open approach to improvement that goes hand in hand with digitalisation.

In the past, our business focus was on the traditional EC&I elements, however as we begin making progress in our digital journey, we enter what we like to call the new world of EC&I, which for us is Engagement, Collaboration and Innovation. As we continue to grow our service offerings, it is abundantly clear, and I can say with extreme confidence that the future won’t look like the past.

We look forward to exhibiting at the SMAS 2018 National Manufacturing Conference on 30 May at the Westerwood Hotel in Cumbernauld, where we will be showcasing our process visualisation glasses. This piece of technology that we have developed fuses together various Industry 4.0 concepts for a workable industry solution that can be of value across a number of sectors, utilising real time contextual information to drive efficiencies.

For further updates and to follow our story across social media, use the hashtag #collaboratetoinnovate

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