The focus for smart manufacturing in the Nordics

The focus for smart manufacturing in the Nordics

Nilesh Sakarikar

Manufacturing Industry Head, Nordics and Baltics

The Nordic region has a proud history in manufacturing. Both historically and today, they have had an aggressive sector with manufacturers who have punched above their weight globally. In recent decades, they have had to increasingly up their game through smart factories and digitalization to compete against its competitors and the other large global powerhouses. SME manufacturers within the Nordics have often led the way in terms of innovation, particularly within their production lines, but the larger global manufacturers have further work to do, since the maturity on digitalization differs from region to region.

The Nordics have had a technological advantage in developing industry 4.0 with a strong foundation to build upon. Innovation and digital growth are extremely high within the Nordic region. An important aspect to this is that the Nordics boasts one of the strongest 5G network infrastructures in Europe, meaning that IoT and smart devices can develop and be widely used. For this reason, and due to their stable political and economic landscape they have a great opportunity for growth.

However, it remains key to get the steps right and target their focus and investments in the best places. This means shifting the way business operates to view IT as an enabler of business value, rather than a cost center. When manufacturers successfully move the function to the center of their organization, the gains are palpable. The enabler for this is to have well-defined business “Digital Business KPIs”.

Christer Alm

CIO, Handicare

As a CIO, it is my role to educate the business in the benefits of technology and bring the function further into the center. Within my organization, we have focused on the following key benefits of digitalization:


A key focus must be global harmonization. Putting the global systems and infrastructure in place to be able to capture data from across the entire business. Factories in separate countries lack efficiency and insight if they are not supported by standardized tooling that can ensure a smooth supply chain, quality processes and efficiencies that come with these.

Enabling a holistic view of the business

Digitalization can connect the process from upstream to downstream. Rather than having an IT strategy working within siloes, manufacturers need to use IT to enhance their business strategy and connect the dots. This process needs to run from the product and customer all the way back through the production line and supply chain and even into R&D. This is not an easy transition for manufacturers that are often dealing with legacy infrastructures. But moving IT from being a backbone to the business to an enabler of business value is vital.

Smart data capture

Data has the potential to change your product and your relationship with your customer in ways that will future-proof your business and ensure long-term success. Having access to clean data at each point in the production chain and even within the product can guarantee that your business is evolving with customer need. Cutting-edge technologies such as digital twin can be a gamechanger in this space.

Failure in IT strategy is often down to a lack of defined business vision driving it. Understanding the business outcome and objective you’re striving for enables you to take the right steps to get to that point. Manufacturers with larger margins are often at the forefront of innovation because they allow their teams the space to focus on long-term future innovation, rather than short-term cost-saving goals. Driving a vision-led organization is vital to maintain a competitive advantage.

Digitalization can also bring a new edge and flavor to a manufacturer by building in sustainability and security. Both these factors will support an improved position in an increasingly consumer-led market.

There are huge opportunities for success in this area and the Nordics are strongly positioned to be global players in manufacturing. To get there it is vital to change the view of IT. Its role is now fundamental to the success of an organization, and it cannot be decoupled from business strategy. Moving forwards with aligned teams across the business working to a common vision of the future is essential.

Closed-Loop Manufacturing – critical success factor for future personalized production

Jaakko Hartikainen

CEO, IDEAL GRP, an Atos company

Over the past few years product complexity has increased as a result of systemic nature of connected products. At the same time customers across all industries are increasingly looking for more personalized products, at price levels comparable to mass-produced products.

Manufacturers have responded to changes in buying behavior by increasing product variability, and by adopting various levels of mass-customization strategies. This has led to proliferation of product variants and decrease in manufacturing lot sizes. In an extreme case every manufactured product can be different, meaning that the lot size is one.

To retain production efficiency while lot sizes are being reduced Nordic manufacturers need to establish highly automated production systems that adapt flexibly to manufacturing different product variants. This isn’t the case with traditional manufacturing systems and is the driving force behind Industry 4.0 initiatives.

Making use of digital product information throughout manufacturing value chain enables cost efficient manufacturing of personalized products.

High fidelity product and production digital twins understood by production systems are the corner stones of smart manufacturing and enable production automation to adjust itself to manufacturing each different product variant.

In contrast to ERP-based manufacturing operations management systems, modern closed-loop manufacturing-systems that integrate PLM, ERP and manufacturing operations management solutions are capable of managing rapid product and schedule changes, controlling material flow between manufacturing steps, distributing work instructions, controlling production automation, and collecting information on installed components and the process itself.

Closed-loop manufacturing can give Nordic manufacturing companies the much needed competitive edge over their rivals in the global competition for buyers on search for low-cost personalized products.

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