The digital era provides us different opportunities, so let’s try to find the ones with the greatest potential! Let’s first look at the underlying trends in manufacturing industries by zooming in on tomorrow’s challenges and on existing new technologies.
Manufacturing companies are facing a combination of the following challenges:
- Workforce transformation
The new generation that will fulfill these positions is a digital-native generation who was raised on the Internet and has other strengths and weaknesses. This transformation brings challenges, but the optimists would say also a lot more opportunities.
- Customized products – complex processes
Consumers today are no longer interested in the bulk product, but want a customized product, if possible even with a personal twist in it. This brings enormous challenges and diversification for the manufacturing industry, not only to create the product but also to the corresponding supply chain.
- Environmental drivers
The pressure on Carbon footprint reduction will continue. Producing “green” is/can become a competitive advantage!
- Increased pace of changes
A changing environment is not new to manufacturing companies, but the speed of the changes will significantly increase. Agility, flexibility, adaptability of the machines, processes, and people are the terms of the next years, more than they have ever been.
- Never-ending cost pressure
In this fast-changing environment, there is one thing that will remain stable: the spirit of doing more with less. In order to stay competitive, companies need to remain focused on the bottom line, that’s something that will never change.
Today’s new technologies
In general, we refer to Industry 4.0 or the digital industry when we want to address the overall group of new (digital) technologies, available today and ready to transform the industry.
1. Internet of Things (IoT –Big data): Main application areas include condition-based maintenance, energy management, and quality monitoring.
2. Wearables: Main application areas include field related activities, procedures, and process information, removal of all paper related checklist/event logs.
3. Augmented/virtual reality: Main application areas include training of the workforce and assisting in complex operations.
4. Additive manufacturing – 3D printing: Main application areas include spare part management and complex production processes.
Operational excellence in the digital age
“Innovation is the only way to overcome the challenges of tomorrow! To make the transformation into the digital age, operational excellence needs to explore the use of new technologies”.