7 key steps to digital transformation success

By Uwe Kueppers, Rockwell Automation

Jun 12, 2018

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Achieving a connected enterprise involves driving the decisions and actions that bring together people, processes and technology. To move beyond discussion and theorization to creating a reality requires extreme cohesion from the top down.

Looking at the digital journey of Rockwell Automation customer Hamlet Protein provides a great example of how a successful transformation occurs and, hopefully, an opportunity from which we can all learn.

Hamlet Protein, Inc. is a mid-sized company located in Horsens, Denmark, that develops and manufactures soy-based functional ingredients for use in animal feeds. The company’s bioconversion process effectively reduces anti-nutritional factors in soy beans (antigens, trypsin inhibitors, oligosaccharides, phytic acid) to safe levels for young animals. Markets for Hamlet Protein’s products currently include piglets, calves, pets, poultry and aquaculture feed.

Reflecting on their journey, Hamlet identified 7 key steps as most crucial to their digital transformation.

1. Create and socialized a shared company vision among C-level stakeholders.

In 2010, after three years of unsuccessful efforts to integrate their new ERP system with production, Hamlet decided to merge their administrative and production functions in a single IT organization. Based on their belief that IoT integration would be essential to future growth, the company mission was to develop a long-term, big-picture strategy.

Hamlet was familiar with Rockwell Automation control systems and, after a conversation at that year’s Rockwell Automation Automation Fair, became convinced that The Connected Enterprise and the company’s Information Solutions could provide the key to successful digitization, including paperless operation. The company had previously updated their ERP system in an attempt to digitize their process but encountered limitations with regard to event-handling and real-time data using that approach. This time, their vision encompassed an overhaul of the entire manufacturing process including quality, energy and good movement, warehouse and performance management. Management aligned across all departments in support of this mission.

2. Establish a steering committee.

Every ship needs a captain and supporting crew. In Hamlet’s case, they formed a steering committee that included their CEO, CFO, VP of operations, the project manager and the Rockwell Automation business consultant who had been part of the project since its inception. This team served to maintain alignment, momentum and awareness throughout the company and as a communication and escalation point. The investment by senior executives attested to the company’s commitment to the project vision.

3. Partner with a technology provider who understands and supports your overall business objectives.

Rockwell Automation and Hamlet were existing long-term partners, and bolstered by the exchange between the two companies at Automation Fair that shaped Hamlet’s vision, the company began to work with us on this project. Initial efforts focused on defining needs and goals, with technology acting as a tool to enable the vision for both companies.

4. Carefully and completely assess operations to develop an unvarnished picture of strengths, gaps and opportunities.

Rockwell Automation and Hamlet added structure to the project in the form of an assessment. Under the old system, Hamlet’s goods receipt operation was a half manual process. Hamlet employees received deliveries from a truck driver via paper which they then manually entered into their ERP system. It was the same story with quality management including the use of manual test samples and operators establishing quality check procedures. Hamlet lacked visibility to its data, and, because many of its data sources were disconnected, they were largely unable to use that data to plan and take actions.

Beyond being disconnected, Hamlet’s data lacked context. Operators lacked guidance regarding how to drive processes and, in the absence of documentation, relied mainly on their individual knowledge and experience. This operator knowledge was localized and not shared among the broader team. Hamlet did not understand why the process sometimes slowed and the impact of various operator actions. They lacked the ability to compare and consolidate the multiple data sources on which production is dependent, such as concentration factor, volume output, protein, moisture, etc.

Finally, in the warehouse area, the use of silos was not optimized. Operators managed storage without guidance, and the warehouse itself was organized with handwritten notes. Scheduling was manual and posed frequent challenges for customer relation and production personnel.

5. Conduct a value workshop to secure buy-in and evaluate potential gains against the picture developed in step 4.

Armed with the assessment, Hamlet conducted a value workshop to analyze from both technical and business perspectives its process flow from raw material receipt through finished goods. Representatives from all departments participated, which not only facilitated broad buy-in but enabled the team to clearly understand the interconnectedness of their individual processes.

As an outcome of the workshop, the team reinforced its vision for a digitized manufacturing process that would connect its disjointed processes. One of the central questions concerned the appropriate roles that ERP and Manufacturing Operation Management (MOM) should play within the new system. Ultimately, Hamlet chose for their MOM to be independent of their ERP so that they could maximize the control and stability of their process digitally in the manufacturing space.

6. Develop and socialize a comprehensive plan and schedule.

Timing can change, but priorities and responsibilities should be clear and agreed upon by all. Hamlet developed a functional requirement specification to establish clear project milestones and pricing. They also dedicated the project manager full-time to the project as a single point of coordination and leadership. Looking back, Hamlet views this assignment as key.

7. Establish an infrastructure for change management and inter-company communication.

Never underestimate the importance of regular communication in progression of a project. Hamlet’s goal of communicating plans, progress, and actions to internal teams was achieved by the creation of MyHP with the help of Rockwell Automation. This change management system was designed to document core business processes and to designate employees to different projects. By establishing MyHP, it was easy to see the organization as a whole and identify each employee’s responsibility. MyHP also opened lines of communication between different departments to achieve Hamlet’s overall company goals.

The importance of continuous communication with investors is another takeaway from Hamlet’s experience. Not only must investors be ready and willing to keep the momentum of a project; they must understand how to make business processes easier while strengthening collaboration internally. Hamlet found that the key to its edge over competitors lay in communicating with stakeholders the changes occurring within the company and how they would affect daily business. Hamlet’s journey has taken the right step towards opening lines of communication within their business; effectively preparing them for The Connected Enterprise and a successful digital transformation!

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