The buzzword at many manufacturers is Industry 4.0. But making the leap to the fourth industrial revolution requires manufacturers to heavily invest in automation, the Internet of Things (IoT), and many other smart technologies. While this is a bold endeavor, it asks a lot of an industry with tight IT budgets and lean internal staff. With such inherent limitations, how does a manufacturer like Ernie Green (EG) Industries digitally transform?
“I've never felt confident that we had the infrastructure or the internal resources to even entertain Industry 4.0,” said Tony Brown, the Director of Business Systems at EG Industries. Two large pain points stood between them and digital transformation: disparate data and outdated infrastructure.
Since 2010, EG more than doubled the number of manufacturing and administrative locations in North America and the Dominican Republic. As they grew, data segregated because every location had a different system. They quickly realized they needed to consolidate their data into a centralized data center. Additionally, EG had a lot of outdated infrastructure, so they ran a mass update on most of the network infrastructure in 2010. But by 2020-21, many locations still had aging equipment.
“By taking me through their OneContract process, they opened my eyes to what’s possible. I felt like Core BTS was a company I could truly partner with to help us achieve Industry 4.0.”
Tony Brown | Director of Business Systems | Ernie Green Industries
To lay a solid foundation, we began the project with an exclusive Core BTS offering: Azure Accelerate. It’s a discovery-driven approach that includes a thorough economic assessment and analyzes all / targeted workloads within the client's environment. Its findings identify where a client lies in the cloud journey roadmap, and that determines our migration strategy recommendations. It also heavily focuses on financial modeling so clients clearly understand the migration and operation costs.
The output from our Azure Accelerate program was key in helping EG decide how to move forward in their cloud journey. “We didn't know what we didn't know,” Brown said, “so that data helped us determine where our focus should be.”
We led Brown and his team through multiple sessions on the cloud journey roadmap to demonstrate the art of the possible: where they could go and how they can get there. “They did a great job leading me through what seemed impossible (from a budgetary and resources perspective) to an achievable state with data modernization and upgraded infrastructure,” Brown said.
For EG industries, one of the most impactful recommendations from the assessment was to consider a holistic service model we call “OneContract”. This service model provides both the management and security of the IT environment – along with the necessary services to execute on different defined roadmap strategies including levels of IT advisory services up to assuming a suitable CTO-type role. It also includes license advisory services to ensure that our clients are getting the most value from their Microsoft investment.
After completing the Azure Accelerate engagement, we worked with Brown to build a business case for presentation to EG’s board. Once it was approved, we began implementing nearly every part of the Cloud Journey Roadmap. We started with the economic assessment and covered the Cloud Foundation migration, Application Modernization, and Cloud Optimization. As we went through the process, our team provided documentation and support to overcome unforeseen obstacles. We are currently performing the design and supportability reviews of their existing infrastructure, as well as building their Azure environment.
With the Azure cloud, the IoT hub, and all the other smart technologies EG has in their OneContract toolbox, EG is confident they have a roadmap to get to Industry 4.0. “With automation increasing productivity and autonomous, preventative maintenance predictability driving costs down, I now have a vision for the future that I couldn't see a year ago,” Brown said.
With Core focused on the pieces needed to keep the business running, EG can now focus on new opportunities. “With OneContract, I feel like there’s true ownership,” Brown said. “Until now, I’ve never had a solution provider take full ownership of their work, so we always had weaknesses. But so far everything agreed to in our OneContract has come to fruition.”
Before EG decided to move to the Azure Cloud, they ran an internal SWOT analysis to determine their biggest risks and identify their priority pain points. Though every organization may have a different model than EG, Brown recommends that organizations trust Core’s process: “Let Core do the Azure Accelerate, collect the data, understand what it's going to take, what gaps they're finding, compare them to your SWOT, and let them guide you through that journey to determine the best path forward with your solution.”
About Ernie Green Industries
EG Industries was founded in 1981 as a Tier 1 supplier to the automotive industry. Since then, they have grown to serve medical device, consumer, and industrial markets. They are leaders in providing plastic injection molding, tooling, assembly, coatings, and decorative technology to deliver critical components and high precision parts that are globally competitive. Their products range from extreme precision components for robot assisted surgery systems and medical devices, to industrial equipment, transportation parts, household durables, packaging, and more.