5 Minutes With: Emmanuel Routier (Orange Business Services)

By Georgia Wilson
Emmanuel Routier, VP Industry 4.0 at Orange Business Services discusses digital transformation, industry trends and more with Manufacturing Global...


 Why is digitalisation important to manufacturing?

The manufacturing industry, throughout history, has always been at the forefront of innovation and technological change. While many see it as something old and set in its ways, it has a long history of pioneering new ways of operating. The industrial revolution was spearheaded by manufacturers and transformed the world into something unrecognisable. Moving towards a more digitalised world is simply the next step in this ongoing evolution.

The Covid-19 pandemic has also highlighted the need for manufacturers to accelerate their digital transformation having exposed areas of weakness in operations and supply chains. New digital technology will be of the utmost importance in overcoming these weaknesses and getting our economies back on track.

What does digital transformation mean to you?

Digital transformation is progress and evolution. It is the natural progression of how businesses operate, with new digital technology replacing manual and archaic processes. It is a process that has been ongoing for at least a decade or more and we are now at a critical point where businesses no longer have the choice of whether to pursue it but must now decide when and how they take the step towards a brighter, greener future.

Digital transformation in manufacturing specifically will usher in a new era where technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), 5G and the internet of things (IoT) give manufacturers the ability to be more agile and produce better quality products, faster and more efficiently.

What trends do you see emerging when it comes to smart manufacturing and the digitalisation of its functions and operations?

Orange Business Services recently undertook a piece of research examining how the last turbulent twelve months has impacted on companies’ approaches to digitalisation and examined a number of different trends across a range of industries.

First and foremost, the pandemic highlighted risks and challenges in supply chains that had a huge impact throughout 2020 on manufacturing – 83% of business leaders say they are more aware of supply chain risks than they were a year ago. Despite the development of vaccines, it will be some time before the disruption of the ongoing pandemic ceases to have a detrimental impact on our supply chains. Because of this, one of the most immediate considerations is how we can digitalise supply chains to help them run effectively and efficiently while avoiding the ongoing disruptions. 

The technology asset that organisations will be looking to harness increasingly in the coming months and years will be data. Real-time data can now be captured in cost-effective ways to power better workflows that extend across an ecosystem of partners. As it stands however, just 45% of businesses are using real-time data insights to drive their operations today. We believe that this will likely double over the next two years. 

Another trend that we see emerging at an increasing pace is the role of sustainability in the manufacturing industry. In our research, we discovered that around 80% of companies are investing in digital technologies to become a more sustainable business. This year, sustainability will be increasingly on top of the agenda and with COP26 around the corner, companies will be vying to highlight their own green credentials. For manufacturers, digitisation will be key to achieving their green ambitions, using real-time data and advanced analytics to monitor sustainability factors such as energy, fuel and water usage.

What’s next for you in the next 12-18 months?

5G is a game changer for Industry and its digital transformation. 5G enables industry to digitalise & improve its network infrastructure on industrial campuses, increasing employee productivity with stronger performance of Industry 4.0 use cases and the automation of industrial processes offering stronger flexibility. 

This will be my primary focus in the coming months, further supporting the industry in their digital transformation and realising Industry 4.0 use cases with 5G technology. 

What inspires you?

Human nature has always been a source of inspiration for me. The way that humanity can come together even during the most trying times and find solutions, cooperating and collaborating to elevate itself. Most recently, the efforts to produce a vaccine for COVID-19 has been a delight to witness, seeing competitors joining forces to overcome the greatest challenge in our lifetimes.

What are your favourite things to do outside of work?

Outside of COVID restrictions, being in nature, mountain biking with the children and enjoying the sun are my favourite ways to relax. However, during these times of lockdown I have found that having a good diner with my wife and friends and spending some quality time socialising is definitely helping to bring some variety to my daily routine.

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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