Aplimet faces 2018 in the process of digitalization, a new stage in which the company plans to include management software in production and implement the use of professional tablets. Aplimet was created in 2000 and is a pioneer in the application of design and technology to beer taps and draft beer towers. This innovative character is what leads Aplimet to continue exploring and introducing new technologies that contribute to promoting flexibility, to improving industrial processes and to increasing productivity.

Revolution 4.0

We are in the middle of an industrial revolution (the fourth), an era of transition towards a new model that will generate another economic trend within an interconnected global system. Terms such as digital transformation, connected industry, smart factories and industry 4.0 refer to the introduction of digital technologies in industry. Company digitalisation has effects on the development of industrial processes, organisations and the value chain. The cyber-physical systems, the iCloud, the Internet of things and services, robotics, automation, intelligent products, hyper-connectivity, big data and advanced analytics are the labels that predominate in the cloud of the 21st century. However, unlike what happened with revolutions 1.0 (steam engine), 2.0 (electric power) and 3.0 (electronics and information technology), we have not invented anything new. What we have done has been to connect the technologies already available to produce more efficiently and intelligently, in short, to add value to the entire production chain.

Digitalised sectors improve their productivity faster than less digitalised sectors; faster growth is seen in SMEs that use digital tools. Therefore, companies must take up the challenge of digital transformation; the risk for those that fail to do so will be high, especially in the case of small companies and SMEs, which are estimated to form 97% of the business fabric. If these do not get on the bandwagon (or, rather, on the cloud) they could disappear in two years. But let’s set aside the alarms and let’s talk in optimistic terms: digitalisation could have a positive impact of 225,000 million euros by the year 2025, which would mean an annual increase of 1.8% in the national GDP; these are data from the ‘Digital reinvention: an opportunity for Spain’ report from the McKinsey consultancy and the COTEC Foundation, which promotes innovation as an engine of economic and social development.

Integrated value chain

If today’s industry wants to be competitive, it must be productive, flexible, offer high quality products and reduce costs. The integrated value chain therefore offers solutions for planning, programming and managing production. Aplimet is a clear case in which the digital transformation contributes to company’s competitive integration in the new industrial ecosystem. For example, in the design phase, collaborative work and the use of 3D additive manufacturing allow this part of the project to be streamlined, reducing costs, assuring that the product meets customer expectations and ensuring the quality required for the brand’s products.

Another strategic aspect is the control of the manufacturing process and traceability. Systems connected by intelligent sensors allow this to be much more effective. As a metaphor, this applied technology is the sense organs of objects; they observe and collect data. The collection, transmission and analysis of this information helps behaviour to be predicted and weak points to be diagnosed, which allows us to make preventive decisions in real time and with a global perspective, to shorten response times and to more efficiently manage logistics. This is something completely revolutionary in 21st century industry.

Although there are multiple benefits of digitalisation, we must highlight the commitment that Aplimet has made to increase its presence in the social networks and incorporate technology in its products (see the Premium series of the manufacturer’s catalogue), which allows for greater dialogue and interaction with the user. And, in short, what good does it do to talk? To know and understand others, to discover what their needs are and therefore to anticipate.

Finally, digital technology plays a fundamental role in one of the differential points of Aplimet: personalisation. The intelligent exchange of information and handling of data will accentuate one of the aspects that place Aplimet as a pioneer in its sector.

Change of mentality

Industry stands in a context of globalised trade in which company managers must move throughout the world. But not only this. We must also take into account clients’ hyperconnectivity. The form of consuming has changed completely: distances have shortened, temporality has disappeared and relationships are now omni-channel. Given the circumstances, it is necessary to operate with connected systems that give access to business data at any time and in any place.

Luís Lombardero, doctor in economics and business, proposes a change of mentality and the reconception of the workplace as a non-physical site: the idea of working from the office or watching the production chain is becoming obsolete. A notable symptom is that we have changed the desktop computer for mobile devices. Some data from the ‘Ditrendia report: Mobile in Spain and in the World’ of 2016 and 2017’ give us an idea of the change of paradigm: 80% of Spaniards have a smartphone, as compared with 73% with a computer; the tablet penetration rate in Spain is 75%; 56% of Spaniards use smartphones or tablets as remote controls; by 2025 it is estimated that there will be 75.44 million connected devices in the world.

Paraphrasing Marc Vidal, an expert in transformation and digital strategy, the question that companies should ask themselves is not how much will it cost to carry out the digitalisation process, but how long they can maintain their competitiveness without taking on the transformation; for technology must be perceived as a necessity, but above all as an opportunity to develop a new business model. In Aplimet they are ready for the change.

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