Implementing IT into your business can seem overwhelming but don’t allow IT solutions to complicate your business. Instead, allow them to improve processes and help current, new, and old customers engage more actively. In this post, we'll talk about various trending technology solutions and developments and how the manufacturing sector can use these trends to gain a competitive advantage.
There are three categories of manufacturers: discrete, process, and power/utilities.
Discrete manufacturing is involved with creating individual products that can be disassembled at the end of their life so the basic components can be recycled. Examples of this would include automobiles, airplanes, and smart phones.
Process manufacturing is often part of the value chain of other industries, like consumer packaged goods or discrete manufacturing. Unlike discrete manufacturing though, the products cannot be distilled back to its basic components. Examples of this include pharmaceuticals and wine.
Finally, the power industry includes companies generating electric power from both non-renewable and renewable sources as well as distributed energy resources. The utilities industry includes companies providing electricity, natural gas, and water to residential, commercial, and industrial customers.
Technology can help simplify and expedite day-to-day processes within the manufacturing industry. Increasing a company’s agility while minimizing costs to arrange new services on a global scale can be achieved using cloud-based infrastructure, for example. Moving completely to a cloud or even having an on-site server can reduce service, implementation, and operation costs. It can also improve business outcomes by analyzing previously untouched data to meet customer needs. Another useful aspect of cloud-based technology is ensuring that something like manufacturing waste can be removed efficiently and safely.
Likewise, we are seeing a business trend that has shifted power over to consumers. Today’s customer has more information and more ways to connect than they ever had before. These demands and expectations are causing product manufacturers to evolve at a faster rate, keeping the customer’s preferences into account.
In order to achieve this, there needs to be active consumer compliance combined with agile improvement. Results must be insight-driven with the measured metric being consumer speed. An associated challenge with this trend is customer engagement. Manufacturing organizations need to be looking to engage more deeply with consumers and drive innovation based on demand while adding value. This challenges manufacturing organizations to increasingly use social, mobile, and cloud technology solutions in order to be more responsive to their audience; or customer-centric. A possible future business model for the manufacturing industry could shift them into the world of e-commerce within a few years. "Manufacturing as we once knew it is never coming back…we have to figure out a way forward for mid-skill America."
With the rise of globalization and its effects on business that we have seen over the last few years, manufacturing can be affected through collaboration with local and regional partners. This will result in the development of alliances that can compete across markets.
Many organizations are leaning on technology to attract, motivate, and empower the current generation of millennials; the leaders of today and tomorrow. The rise of certain millennial-driven technology gives way towards the rising trend of workforce mobility; to be able to collaborate with co-workers, respond to customers, and access resources from anywhere. With these technologies, companies within the manufacturing sector will experience the ability to connect their employees to all levels of information.
This, in turn, will lead to improved efficiency and greater job satisfaction. It will also create growth in both size and expertise through solutions such as utilizing virtual experts, online training, etc. Employees could also access required information such as product specifications, manufacturing and service records, or customer configuration details to manage all the various components of the manufacturing business.
With the decrease of natural resources and increase of concern for environmental impact, companies are expected to do more with less. The positives of this are budget reduction and limited risk. Companies can also develop new ways to measure and manage their use of energy and resources and then advocate their corporate, social responsibility to the consumer.
If companies were to implement social media, a current method of engagement, customer feedback and cooperation can factor in to heavily expedite innovation; prioritizing the consumer’s specified needs, which could support transparency and openness as well as diverse ideas and cultures.” If there is a lack of consistent and documented customer experiences, the result will be brand confusion which can sink your company into being anonymous. Another problem could be when customer data is stored in a way that prevents information sharing between functions; a lack of insight could lead to a possible threat of inefficient collaboration and miscommunication.
In order for a manufacturing firm to gain a competitive edge, it needs to address its largest concern: analyzing operational data. Potential applications of big data in relation to manufacturing includes efficiency, optimization of logistics, and constructing proactive maintenance. In addition to this, product design, development, and engineering are tasked to extract conclusions and insights from a voluminous amount of data, such as customer behavior and request.
In other words, connecting data – customer data in particular – across regions can produce a more accurate analysis. There are advanced analytical tools such as machine learning and streamed analytics that are available for both big and smaller players to help gain this competitive advancement. Using the provided data from these tools can help you make better and faster decisions. Another use of advanced analytics is in maintenance; unscheduled downtime can be shown as equipment failures before they even happen.
With the trending use of cloud storage expanding throughout industries, manufacturing should not be left behind. The manufacturing sector is already seeing areas where the cloud is helping to modernize the supply chain as well as applying the benefits of modernization across broader geographies. Overall, implementing cloud services will help in increase efficiency and reduce expenses.
With any technology implementation, there will naturally be demands for only the best security and privacy. Regularly monitored requirements must be put in place to ensure that companies are protecting their valuable IP. With the correct solutions, employees can be enabled to have secure remote access to applications and documents.
The initiative to move to improved technological solutions has become a requirement. To be left behind can lead to decreased productivity and innovation, particularly for mobile workers.