Digitisation tool for the manufacturing sector: evidence-based and tailor-made support for the SMEsactive 2 months, 2 weeks ago
The need for a digital transformation of the manufacturing industry nowadays is unquestioned. However, there are still some challenges that need to be addressed:
1. There is no consistent monitoring or assessment of the digital transformation at the EU and BSR levels. Different organisations have assessed the state of digitalisation through individual initiatives, but the different assessments have not provided an overview of the overall picture of the various countries manufacturing industries and their comparison with others;
2. Evidence-based decision-making is gaining increasing importance among various groups, including industry representatives, business consultants and policymakers. Yet, currently, there are lack of tools and support instruments for different players to apply this principle in practice. Therefore, individuals or groups still rely too much on personal opinions, preconceptions, and beliefs.
3. Increasing need for targeted business support services. Companies from different sectors/companies with different technology readiness/companies with different internal competencies, etc. need tailor-made support taking into account their context. However, there is currently a lack of tools and capacities, both to (1) identify what kind of specific support businesses need and (2) formulate and promote the supply of such support measures.
Taking this into account, in 2022, a team of experts from the Lithuanian Innovation Centre has developed two methodologies: to analyse (1) the extent of digitalisation in the manufacturing industry and (2) companies’ expectations regarding business digitisation. Based on these two methodologies, the Aggregate Manufacturing Digitisation Index 2022 was prepared. At the moment, the collected and summarised information in the Aggregate Manufacturing Digitisation Index 2022 is only available in a PDF document, with a separate focus on Lithuania. However, this document is not interactive and user-friendly, and it also lacks a focus on other EU or BSR states. In addition, the data collection process is currently implemented manually and through an online questionnaire, while data visualisation is also implemented using conventional graphs.
Based on the created methodologies and their further implementation in mind, the Lithuanian Innovation Centre aims to take this approach to the next level by initiating the Interreg BSR project. The main outcome of the project would be a Manufacturing Digital Transformation IT tool.
The tool to be developed within the project could consist of at least three different parts:
1. Overview layer, which could include different types of information and data (Manufacturing Digitisation Index): the overall level of digitalisation of the manufacturing industry, different manufacturing sectors, different categories (f. e. the use of different technologies such as AI, IoT, 3D printing, etc.; skills; cooperation; investments; innovation, etc.), different specific indicators. Data could be displayed and compared at different levels, e. g. country, sector, and specific indicator, while changes over time could also be analysed. This data would be collected and calculated automatically within the system. The information would be relevant for manufacturing companies, service providers, and policymakers.
2. Self-assessment tool: companies would be able to evaluate themselves in the context of the Manufacturing Digitisation Index. Companies would be able to compare themselves with the EU-level market standard, specific countries or sectors according to different technology categories or other variables affecting digitisation, including skills, investments, innovation, etc. Based on the assessment, the list of strengths and weaknesses would be provided with recommendations and a pool of actions to be taken. This part would help to match SMEs with the solution providers (DIHs, EDIHs).
3. Digitisation Confidence evaluation tool (based on the Manufacturing Digitization Confidence Index). This layer could include two different parts. First, a self-assessment tool would be created for companies to evaluate themselves on how much are they prepared for the future / what kind of initiatives or technologies companies are planning to implement / what kind of obstacles or gaps should be solved to meet companies’ future expectations (both internal to the company and external). Based on the results, digitisation solutions providers would be matched with the companies to help them overcome their major challenges. The second subdivision in this part would be the Manufacturing Digitization Confidence Index, which would be automatically calculated based on the answers provided by the companies. This would reflect general business expectations for the future and the major obstacles, therefore it would be useful not only for the solutions providers but also for the policymakers.
In general, the main target groups of this project would be SMEs from the manufacturing sector, digitisation service providers (particularly DIHs, EDIHs) and policymakers.
Lithuanian Innovation Centre is looking for partners:
– Digital Innovation Hubs;
– European Digital Innovation Hubs;
– Organizations operating as a part of DIH: higher education institutions, R&D institutes, science and technology parks, innovation centres, business support organizations, etc.