Digital Twin Pt. 2: Digitalization vs. Digitization

Digitalization and digitization are two of the most used buzzwords in manufacturing right now. Read our blog post on the differences between the two and how you can bridge the gap between words and results with MBrain.


Sometimes I see these two words used liberally spread across many different contexts for no reason other than they are key buzzwords to be placed as many times as possible in a text mentioning anything to do with Cloud, IoT, SAAS, Smart “XYZ,” etc. In this blog, I explain why it’s essential to understand the difference and the type of value you can get from both transitions. What do they mean, though, and what is the difference? I share my point of view and how MBrain can help you with both.


We digitize when we transfer something from an analog context to a Digital context. In the context of Industry 4.0, any paperwork that is transformed into a form to fill in on a Handheld or PC has now been Digitized. Our industry is littered (pun intended) with a whole load of analog methods, such as Work Instruction Binders, Quality Assurance check sheets that need to be signed, Control Plans, 8D reports, 5 Why reports, Safety cross on a whiteboard, well as we know the list can be long! We have seen that most of our partners see a massive return on investment in reducing paperwork as this reduces the times spent at the production line running around and collecting binders, getting things signed off, ensuring that the correct Control plan is being followed, etc. We also have experienced that digitizing forms and other parts of your process allows for an increase in the production flow, a better view of Quality assurance, and a better view of the pull and push of the Supply Chain.


We digitalize when we start a larger project that encompasses a journey that implies gaining new insights from data, new ways of creating Innovation, and new ways of creating new income. The journey to Digitalization also involves a cultural change in the company, often moving from products to services and creating a culture of rapid Innovation that can transform an organization into a robust structure ready for quick changes in their business.

Digitalization is a long journey and somewhat difficult to grasp sometimes. In the context of Industry 4.0, this is where we start collecting data from many different parts of our Production cycle. Data such as Incoming goods, Track and Trace of the production build, and Data from Test machines or machines that produce metal parts. Data can also be collected from the ERP system, your Supply Chain system, and any other type of separate system that creates data. This data can be pulled together to create tremendous new insights, and it is easy to see a cross-the-border view of your whole Production System.

One of the best examples of visualizing data is using Dashboards, where you can have a quick view of everything you need for your job. Digitalization also brings new ways to create Innovation. Often, we talk about moving systems to the Cloud to create a smoother path to act upon change. For example, most ERPs are now on the Cloud, but other solutions can also be moved to the cloud, such as the Manufacturing Execution System. The Cloud also opens a new world of possibilities for Industry 4.0, ready-made solutions on the Cloud, such as Infrastructure as a Service, Security Solutions to protect your Business, and a ready-made Marketplace full of solutions you don’t need to write yourself. Furthermore, with the Cloud, you can easily create your own applications and APIs that can, in turn, easily transform your ability to change quickly. APIs also bring a new and exciting income for your business or a better way to communicate with your partners and realize more of those Industry 4.0 paradigms.

Let’s have a closer look at APIs. Creating APIs could help you get a better pull on, say, your Supply Chain; if you can expose, say, your Production line to Suppliers through an API, they can quickly and proactively see when you need new parts without you even having to place an order or have complicated minimum levels in your warehouse. The Supply Chain environment is now such a balancing act between holding too many assets due to supply challenges or holding too few.

A way to Digitalize your ordering system would reduce waste and increase speed to execute just in time.

APIs can also help expose data that suddenly is of value to sell as a whole new income for your Product. It could be adding an Internet of Things sensor to your product, for example, to upsell Predictive Maintenance or an app where the customer can easily see a machine’s uptime, throughput, and other data types that are valuable for their business.

A great example is when mining machines are now being sold based on the material they are mining rather than the device itself. Bore machines are increasingly being sold as a service with a Service Level Agreement on uptime and mined material, with apps to see valuable data for the mining company. This type of “Bore as a Service” has massively transformed the commercial agreement, from buying a Bore to purchasing a service that simply works, from a one-time massive investment to a long-term commercial agreement like Cloud monthly payments.

So how can MBrain help in Digitizing your Production Cycle and Digitalizing your way to Innovation?

MBrain has excellent tools for reducing paperwork, digitizing all your forms, and tracking Continuous Improvement efforts. Through our fantastic Improvement tools, you can create a digital Safety Cross and display it on your factory floor; you can fill in all your Quality Tool forms in MBrain, such as 8D, 5 Whys, FMEA, and Control plan, amongst others, and ensure your Digital Work Instructions are up to date with the latest revision. All those binders with Work Instructions can be digitized in a moment with MBrain, and you can be sure you have the latest revision shown to everyone on the line. Any form you currently pass around to be signed and stamped can be instantly entered into MBrain for excellent tracking of who validated what and the ability to find that form again quickly.

MBrain also has excellent ways to help you on your Digitalization journey. For a start, MBrain can easily be a part of your Cloud strategy; MBrain can be deployed in the Cloud, Hybrid, or On-Premise. All data produced on or around the Production cycle is integrated easily into MBrain. You can integrate your ERP, BOM, and ordering system into MBrain and call off orders. We digitally track and trace the whole production cycle, including test data. All products produced can be easily retraced to understand if a part of the production line needs to improve to reduce waste, scrap, or problems with the product out in the Marketplace. We can integrate APIs from, say, your product or your machines into MBrain to gain greater insight into how your product is being built or used by your customers. We have all the tools necessary to help you on your journey to Digitalization without investing a massive amount of time and wasted energy trying to figure out all those Proofs of Concepts.

If you want to discuss how MBrain can help you with your Digitization and Digitalization journey, drop us a line, and we will get you up and running in no time.

Richard Savage works with Innovation at MTEK. Richard has worked on numerous IoT projects and Semiconductor solutions at Qualcomm. He has a lengthy background in driving 3G and 4G solutions for the Telecom Industry and has worked with driving Cloud and Digital Twins at IBM as a subject matter expert. Reach out to Richard on LinkedIn to continue the conversation.

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