The benefits of modernizing outdated automation systems are clear. With value drivers like reducing downtime, improving visibility, and increasing cyber security, it's not hard to understand how modernization can drastically change and improve the way plant floors operate. The gap between understanding the end value and actually taking steps to pursue a modernization journey can be daunting and for many, paralyzing.
The reality is that the most important—and most difficult—part of the journey is taking the first step. For some, this means breaking through their shortsighted vision to recognize future needs and opportunities. For others, this means not rushing through foundational steps to try to receive the value prematurely. In either case, it's crucial to start at Phase Zero. Phase Zero is simply the first actionable step in a modernization journey.
Phase Zero lays the foundation by preparing your infrastructure and organization for change and it can be broken down into five simple steps.
1. Get the right people at the table
Just like so many things in life, the devil is in the details. A successful modernization project takes careful time and planning and requires participation and buy-in from key players across your organization. This means getting the right people at the table early on. Common roles in your organization might be the Vice President of Operations, Plant Manager, Director of Information Technology, Business Unit Manager, Process & Process Control, Maintenance, Quality Assurance, and Machine Operator. It's important that each individual is invested and is able to apply their own perspective and area of expertise throughout the process.
2. Identify your end goals
What are the most important problems that you want to solve? How do you define success? What does your team hope to accomplish? What are your perceived challenges? What have other similar organizations accomplished? By answering these questions, you'll be able to clearly understand what you need out of a modernization project. This will help you stay focused on the end game, without being distracted throughout the journey.
3. Review your current state
Before you can start upgrading or updating your system, you need to understand your current state. This involves auditing and reviewing your existing systems, assets, and infrastructure to answer the following:
- Do you have the infrastructure needed to support modern systems? Are your current assets able to be connected to a plant network?
- Can your network support modern systems? Is it secure? Is it distributed throughout your plant?
- Do you have any data available? Do you have the right data available?
4. Perform a gap analysis
After you've identified your end goals and completed a site audit, the next step is performing a gap analysis. Simply put, a gap analysis compares what you want to do and what you are capable of doing. It identifies issues that need to be resolved and helps direct your tactical steps in modernizing.
5. Create a plan
The last step is establishing a prioritized modernization plan that is designed to drive you forward. It must consist of simple, actionable steps such as updating outdated equipment or performing a network audit that can help move you closer to your end goals. While creating the plan, focus on identifying improvements and drivers that directly impact your bottom-line, top-line growth, or mitigated risk.
Not sure where to get started? You do not have to feel alone on your journey. FZ is here to help. As your modernization partner, we will come alongside your team, offering insights and lessons learned on past modernization projects in order to create a successful modernization plan. We'll take the guesswork out of the process, bringing experts to the table and helping you avoid any early mishaps or false starts.
Let's get started.