Until recently, there was a clear route for success in manufacturing. The changes in the business environment today call for a ‘Renew-New’ approach – transform existing systems to meet current business needs and simultaneously, add new propositions that will make companies future-ready. In this article, I will present the possibilities awaiting the manufacturing industry.
A New Industrial Revolution is Upon Us
From mass production to mass customization, selling products to selling embedded services, operational excellence to continuous innovation, and efficient factories to intelligent ecosystems – this is how the plot will read for the next industrial revolution. It will be led by global shifts in macroeconomics and consumption, emphasis on value creation, experiential customers, and a convergent set of transformational technologies such as automation, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and even more micro concepts like 3D printing in the factory.
On the Renewal Agenda
The next big shift in the industrial manufacturing industry is not just about quality and numbers, but also about adapting to the digital age of technology and information. It is now necessary to be in sync with the customers’ requirements, as companies can no longer expect them to just consume what is manufactured.
One example is to build smarter factories: When traditional manufacturing equipment and processes are amplified by technologies such as robotics, wireless sensors, Internet Protocol (IP)-based networking, and big data and analytics, the result is a fully integrated and connected production model that enables a quantum leap in efficiency and productivity.
Another way of improvement is building smarter supply chains. A smart supply chain, integrated across all business processes and system, scan leverage real-time data and analytics to enable more accurate forecasting, shorter response times, optimized supply chain processes, and faster decisions.
Companies should also consider increasing their investments. The economies of India, China, and Brazil have benefited greatly from the globalization of manufacturing. As manufacturers follow their lead by making their own investments in technology, innovation, and business expansion, they will also have to invest in employee education, training, and skill development to renew their workforce.
On the Reinvention or New Solutions Agenda
Manufacturers need to leverage emerging technologies such as the Internet of things (IoT), analytics, sensing, and 3D printing to increase operational efficiency and reduce equipment downtime. These services must be tightly integrated with the product along with a robust support ecosystem to create a success story. Here are some of the opportunities that await them:
- 3D printing: As a technology, 3D printing is still nascent, but as it evolves in terms of economy, efficiency, and versatility, it is finding increasing application on the factory floor. And could lead to a real revolution in product engineering! Even in its current state of evolutionary development, 3D printing is beginning to help manufacturers bring down the cost, time, and resources needed to prototype, develop, and test new products. It could also help manufacturers streamline spare parts inventory by printing out rather than storing parts with infrequent demand.
- Servitization of Products: In the traditional manufacturing context, value creation commenced on the factory floor and consummated when the product reached the customer. Take the auto sector where the post-sale ecosystem is predominated by a mostly independent network of third-party service providers. Servitization, therefore, is not just about improving customer relationship but also about enabling manufacturers to leverage it to deliver additional services that the customer is willing to pay for.
- Internet of Things: IoT is a key building block that enables the concepts of smart manufacturing and industry 4.0. It makes the manufacturing enterprise more efficient, productive and innovative by enabling an architecture that spans operations and business systems, and allows real-time visibility into a range of KPIs that ultimately define performance and profitability. In the industry 4.0 paradigm, big data and analytics technologies will convert a constant real-time stream of data from a range of cyber-physical systems into actionable insights.
- Uberization: Uberization takes a software or app- driven approach to instantaneously, and efficiently align supply and demand, and deliver a quantum leap in efficiency and convenience. In the manufacturing context, uberization will probably create new business models and opportunities in the areas of product design, product sales and service, and the manufacturing supply chain.
- Designing Product Experiences: Serving up a product, even one that is a generation ahead in terms of technology components or utility, will simply not suffice. As software and AI become integral components of the manufactured product, there is a huge opportunity to deliver an individualized and comprehensive experience that differentiates a product from its competition.
To create the manufacturing setup of the future, enterprises will need to evolve existing systems to meet current business dynamics while simultaneously adding new functionality that will be critical to their competitive advantage and profitability in the near future. Most importantly, these new technologies have immense potential to empower various stakeholders in the manufacturing ecosystem to provide a quantum leap in value and experience to customers, leading to new business models and profitable growth.
Partner and Manufacturing Segment Head
Roberto leads the organization’s Europe manufacturing segment and manages its Switzerland country operations. He is an expert on transforming companies in the areas of supply chain, operations and digital, and has extensive experience setting up global delivery centers with multi-national teams around the globe. Roberto works with business leaders across some of the biggest brands in Europe, and is bringing new ways of approaching artificial intelligence enablers to organizations. He has an advanced degree in engineering from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and is fluent in 4 languages.