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C-Level conversations

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Digitalization with a Purpose

Sandvik, a Swedish multinational engineering company specializing in products and services for mining, rock excavation, rock drilling, rock processing, metal cutting and machining, recently underwent a comprehensive rebranding. At the heart of that rebranding was digitalization.

For Sandvik, digitalization was something that they knew they needed to do. The challenge was the ‘how’ and the ‘what’. “We knew we wanted to digitize in order to reduce costs and increase efficiency” says Adriano Leone Osti, Program Lead Manufacturing Excellence Industry 4.0 at Sandvik. “What we didn’t know was where to begin.”

For Osti, an obvious place to start was with the customer experience. “We built a digital platform that our customers can use to monitor the performance of their machines and predict potential failures” he says.

Not only was this individual platform a success, it also served as a clear case study on how to implement a successful digital transformation project. “Digitalization takes time, which is something that tends to be in short supply” adds Osti. “More often than not, management wants to see results and they want to see them fast.”

Digitalization and operational excellence are invariably linked, in fact, it’s hard to do one without the other.

Adriano Leone Osti,
Program Lead Manufacturing Excellence Industry 4.0, Sandvik

Clear longterm results

This means that change managers need to keep senior managers convinced about the importance of these long-term digitalization projects. “It is essential that you keep management updated about a project’s progress and how it will ultimately benefit the company” says Osti.

Another challenge is that a change manager will sometimes be required to discuss a project with someone with little to no knowledge of the topic. “Having a successful example with clear results in your back pocket – such as our customer application – can certainly help overcome this hurdle” notes Osti.

Digitalization and Operational Excellence – Two Peas in a Pod

A key aspect of Sandvik’s digital transformation is that it is tied directly to operational excellence. “Digitalization and operational excellence are invariably linked, in fact, it’s hard to do one without the other” explains Osti.

For Osti, operational excellence is the roadmap that guides all his team’s digitalization projects. “In doing so, we can ensure that we aren’t digitizing just to digitize, but that each project serves the purpose of advancing our operational excellence” he says. By providing a comprehensive view of where the company is, where it wants to go and how digitalization will help get them there, this roadmap lets the company optimize the tools and processes they already have instead of changing the entire system. It also allows those people working on a specific project to see the ‘big picture’ benefits of their work.

“When an employee, whether they be middle management or on the shop floor, sees where their work fits into the big picture, they feel a part of that picture and are thus motivated to embrace the change” notes Osti.

The Importance of Partners and Performance Management

For those just getting started on their own digitalization journeys, Osti offers two final pieces of advice: invest in your partners and in a change management system.

As to the former, the key to a smooth digital transformation is having the right partners. “The projects that succeed tend to be the ones who are able to select the right partners and who get those partners to work together” says Osti. Last but not least, Osti stresses the importance of having a performance management system in place. Such a system allows one to monitor all the relevant data and weed out everything that doesn’t matter, leaving you with a clear picture of what you want – and often need – to do.

If you have a performance management system in place, then you’re already well on your way to a successful digitalization project.

says Osti