The last manufacturing revolution saw the emergence of China as a manufacturing hub ‘the factory of the world’ driven by the better flow of information and higher visibility due to the growth of Internet. The revolution created jobs for millions of people. Since then markets have changed, development in various industries have taken the forefront and the emergence of technology has created another paradigm that is in harmony with the 21st century digital technologies is quickly evolving, motivated by I-4.0 i.e. Industry 4.0, which is a group of nine digital-physical and information technologies.
Industry 4.0 is “A group of vital digital and technology trends that are changing the manufacturing workspace all over the world.”
The Current Scenario:
Industrial manufacturers find themselves mired in uneasiness as global demand for manufactured products is very low. According to the IMF, “The manufacturing output is predicted to grow just 3.4 % in 2017.”International trade is at its lowest and though the prices for oil have increased, the increase is not enough to reverse the slump caused in the energy supply chain. Political uncertainties around the world have put a dampener on industry growth including free flow of goods. Most manufacturers are adopting a wait and watch approach, postponing their investments in capital goods till they are sure of the effect of new policies.
Need of the hour:
Increased Productivity:Increasing productivity in a slow growingatmospherewill prove advantageous for industrial manufacturers. They can createmachinery and tools that help to lower costs, increase the productivity and factory performance and other capital ventures.This is an opportunity to earn revenue by using modern tactics that build upon cutting-edge manufacturing ideas and the potential of the industrial Internet.
Investment in technology:Most producers would need to plan their investments and focus on building technology platforms and new operational models that aid networks between their products and services while integrating consumer operations.
Improve connectivity: Most firms look for good quality and efficiency of operations, transparency into supply chain operations, an insight into the levels of production, inventory, available capacity, product quality and status of supplier orders.
Looking at the manufacturing industry around the world, there are many prospects that lie ahead, which include new disruptive processes such as additive manufacturing and the Internet of things (IoT) as well as recently created resources that offer considerable benefits to end users. Just investing money will not be enough. Manufacturers would need to learn new skills to manage a large amount of data generated, adopt new technology to operate more effortlessly, digitize to earn revenue, employ people expert at programming and analytics, and partner with strategic firms that won’t compete for market share.
Here are a few trends in industrial manufacturing to watch out for in 2017
Manufacturers can now replace their outdated models or sell large machinery under warranty and after sales services offered by updating their technical abilities that allow producers to offer a variety of services. Offering condition-based services to consumers becomes easy, as new equipment can be monitored on real-time to understand it’s maintenance needs, connecting with consumers daily to tailor the assets optimization, manage performance for various small and large projects. Doing so will help firms improve the range and value of services offered to better customer retention and increasing deeper, more profitableand marketable engagements.
BCG research show, “the price of manufacturing robots is likely to come down by 25% over the next ten years, with a 5% performance improvement y-o-y, fast-tracking the pace of adoption of robotic automation.
Planned Partnerships: Creating a technologically advanced ecosystem is not easy and can’t be done by the manufacturer alone. This means partnering with other firms who can help you build interconnected equipment, analyze data, share insights and more for your business. For e.g.manufacturers could partner with firms that offer cloud-based tech platforms to run the factory. However, such alliances should be made after careful assessment of the customer base, the synergies offered while maintaining their market share.
GE is building a completely new digital services business with the introduction of Predix, the world’s first manufacturing operations system, and platform. Predix will connect industrial assets, collect and analyze data to deliver instantaneous insights to optimize industrial structures and processes.
- Decide what intellectual property to share and what to develop: Severalmanufacturingfirms find it hard to digitize and use big data analytics as their internal IT systems are so unwieldy. As company operations grow complex, the old ERP systems that were used to drive productivity and synchronization have become a jumbled mass of dissimilarsystems.In such a scenario, rapid response to market demands and the process of digitization is not easy. Manufacturingfirms will have to overhaul their IT systems, develop a new architecture that can aid internal and external technology enterprises.Thinking global is the need of the hour in the complicated manufacturing environment, failure of which may lead to digital confusion eliminating any digital efficiency gains.
- Planto develop and retain Talent: Very few manufacturing firms are successful in attracting the brightest science, technology, engineering, and math(STEM) students as most prefer to work in firms that are innovative and appreciate inventions. Manufacturers must map out a new technology plan with benchmarks and anticipated achievements that are communicated to job incumbents clearly. Varied expertise and different skill sets will help manufacturers shorten the learning curve in the organization.
The ensuingtrend of leaders in industrial manufacturing will shape a bio-network that will capitalize on the potential of analytics and connectivity to maximize efficiency for their customers and their firm. They will chart out their tactics and line up measures that will bring the most value to their business, beginning with trialplans, buildsuperior data analytics skills with cross-functional teams of experts. They will understand their customers’ needs to develop service offerings that offer more than an equipment sale, maximizingopportunities as they form new partnerships outside their core specialty areas.