Digital transformation is “the profound transformation of business and organizational activities, processes, competencies and models to fully leverage the changes and opportunities of a mix of digital technologies and their accelerating impact across society in a strategic and prioritized way, with present and future shifts in mind”, as adopted by IEC Strategic Group 12 on Digital transformation.
Global manufacturing has been greatly impacted from the breakout of the COVID 19 pandemic. Some manufacturers have even been confronted with a crisis of survival. The pandemic forced traditional manufacturing to change its developing vision from “passive transformation” to “active transformation”. The manufacturers that have a stronger base began to seek digital breakthrough proactively. They took the pandemic as a “proving ground” for new technologies and a “training ground” for new business models.
Work resumption can be rapidly achieved by means of remote collaboration, e-business, robot factory, etc. Increasingly, manufacturers directly perceived the outstanding superiority of digital transformation. They further considered “what to transfer” and “how to transfer”.
Digital transformation promotes the transformation of the core value of manufacturing from “quality and efficiency” to “interconnection and interoperation”. It helps manufacturing break through the data chain of overall factors, links and processes, and also propels the interconnection between product and service, hardware and software, application and platform. It facilitates the cross-border integration of different industry chains, and ultimately creates an ecosphere of information interaction, resource sharing, capability synergy and open collaboration.
Prior to the pandemic, with the continuous evolution of a new round of scientific revolution and industrial transformation, many countries, consortia, and also standards organizations launched their strategies related to digital transformation in manufacturing. Standardization was invariably included in their priority action plans, moreover, with the slogan of “standards go first”. These initiatives may have had diverse names, but no matter whether it is Smart Manufacturing, Industry 4.0, Advanced Manufacturing or Lean Manufacturing, the core value behind them is “interconnection and interoperation”. Standardization, with its innate attribute of “consensus”, plays an essential role of guiding, regulating and guaranteeing the healthy and orderly development of digital transform in manufacturing.
During the 2019 Qingdao Forum on International Standardization, former IEC General Secretary, Frans Vreeswijk gave an address which highlighted the important contribution that standardization makes to digitalization and the 4th industrial revolution – allowing systems of different manufacturers to interconnect and interoperate without the need for special integration efforts.
IEC SyC Smart manufacturing, IEC TC 65 on Industrial-process measurement, control and automation, ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1 on Information technology and many other related IEC committees have already published more than 400 international standards and reports to support digital transformation in manufacturing, including the key technologies of reference architecture, semantics, communication, integration, safety and security, smart products/devices, digital factory, intelligent service, etc.
Meanwhile, standardization itself is pushed forward by the unstoppable trend of digital transformation. IEC SG 12, IEC adhoc Group 86 on the Future of digital transformation and other related working groups are exploring ways to allow the IEC to work more digitally and produce more digital content.
Digital transformation is the benefit brought by new and emerging technologies, which will change the way we work and live – for the better. Experts from different IEC National Committees and Technical Committees, and especially young professionals, should proactively greet and make contributions to the transformation in the IEC.