The industrial manufacturing landscape is transforming against a backdrop of uncertainty. The shifts taking place globally in technology, advanced manufacturing, and government policy changes have created a moving target for manufacturers. This is causing many companies to be cautious. So, what’s an industrial manufacturer to do? To maintain or to create manufacturing competitiveness in our evolving landscape, companies must act now in making strategic investments essential for growth.
The good news? The ongoing focus by manufacturers on research and innovation is paying off for those who apply it strategically. For instance, the cheap labor of the 1990s is giving way to automation technology as the more important factor for manufacturing efficiency.
The not-so-good news? These opportunities are counterbalanced by a global manufacturing environment that is beyond challenging. Fluctuating resource prices, a shortage of tech-savvy talent and growing supply-chain and regulatory risks add to manufacturers’ unease, causing them to grow cautious when boldness is required to assure competitiveness.
Download our white paper Four Strategies for Assuring Your Company’s Manufacturing Competitiveness for an in-depth look into the emerging industrial manufacturing trends and strategies that you can employ today to create new market opportunities for your company.
For industrial manufacturing companies looking to grow and succeed in our highly competitive marketplace, making an investment into four strategies creates a potential playbook to act upon.
There’s a technological renaissance that is transforming the look, systems, and processes of the modern factory, and it’s wide-ranging. From the Internet of Things and its 4th Industrial Revolution to additive manufacturing, industrial manufacturing is shedding its skin to become an entirely different entity.
Here are a few of the life-changing advances happening now:
The Internet of Things (IoT) is well on its way to creating the connected factory of the future. With the adoption and deployment of smaller, less costly sensors, the development of advanced analytics and the commodity storage options provided by the cloud, manufacturers can have wireless/mobile access to data globally - as well as anywhere on the plant floor – facilitating new levels of information monitoring, collection, processing, and analysis.
By expanding the power of the web to link machines, sensors, computers, and humans, IoT enables the data-driven insights and digital connectivity needed to adapt, add to or reinvent business models with the end goal of delivering higher-quality, more reliable products.
Yet there are risks to IoT adoption. Prime among them is the threat of cyber attacks by hackers determined to steal trade secrets and intellectual property. To create an inviolable factory of the future, manufacturers must rethink security standards and provide enhanced security during all phases of manufacturing from design to distribution – even after purchase.
How quickly must preparations be made for the connected factory of the future? IoT factories are predicted to be commonplace within five or ten years. Of course, it’s one thing to invest in transformative technologies when business is good – it’s another when business is off.
Then there's additive manufacturing technology, also referred to as 3D printing. Right now, 3D printing can spur innovation and reduce time-to-market through application to the product development/prototyping process.
While technologies that advance manufacturing are important to competitiveness, most manufacturers identify process improvement as key to company success. That equates to:
Reducing production time,
Achieving more operational flexibility, and
Improving its equipment and layout both in and outside the factory.
To achieve these goals and meet evolving opportunities, companies need to automate, upgrade and streamline. Notably, the impact of automation on global manufacturing, particularly in the area of robotics, cannot be underestimated.
Propelled by advanced technologies and the increasing reliability and availability of data, manufacturing competitiveness is upending the factory status quo and creating a highly responsive and innovative global manufacturing landscape. Management must search out innovations that will affect the company’s bottom line. Yet innovations cost money, right? Companies looking to protect their bottom line are pursuing aggressive and proactive cost containment programs that embrace improvements in energy consumption, advances in logistics technology and new materials.
It’s taking manufacturers longer and longer to fill skilled positions - a situation that is likely to continue for the next 15 years. In fact, estimations are that there will be 2 million unfulfilled manufacturing jobs by 2025 in the United States. That means companies will need to act now in order to offset labor shortages later.
A few possible ways to alleviate the problem include:
New technology training to upgrade the skill sets of current employees.
Recruitment to attract the tech-savvy – otherwise known as millennials.
Creating a culture where suggestions for improvements are welcomed and rewarded.
Embracing an open-book management philosophy where employees see themselves as partners in the company.
Download the white paper Four Strategies for Assuring Your Company’s Manufacturing Competitiveness for details on these strategies, and the steps industrial manufacturers must take today to capitalize on new market opportunities that await.
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