The manufacturing industry is changing fast.
Adopting technology to improve end-to-end processes and reduce
logistics overhead is no longer just an option—it’s
inevitable, to compete and win.
Today’s consumers have a greater influence on
price and product quality than before, with the global marketplace at their
fingertips. It has also become much easier for competitors from any part of the
world to enter and exit the market as opportunities open up and disappear,
which makes the market even more unpredictable.
The Future of Manufacturing: 2020 and Beyond,
a report prepared by IndustryWeek and Kronos Inc., says that manufacturing
companies will face the following challenges over the next few
years: market volatility, material cost, price reduction pressures, labor
costs, and transportation and logistics costs.
The good news is that opportunities exist
behind challenges, and when you overcome these challenges, your company will be
able to adapt better to changing times.
Adopting an integrated product development approach
In a traditional manufacturing business setup,
design, engineering, marketing and operations, and other components work independently
in isolated silos. But for a business to be efficient, these teams should
communicate regularly to check if their goals are aligned and
well-synchronized. The same is true for components; internally, processes
can be optimized through proper integration.
This is what Integrated Product Development
(IPD) does. It creates solutions that meet customer needs. It makes bottom-line
results more predictable and profitable while reducing the time and cost of
production. This is a top-to-bottom solution where an integrated product
development team with interdisciplinary capacities is created to keep all
components connected and functioning in sync with one another.
IBM adopted this approach to product
development and marketing in 1998. By doing so, they reduced expenses from
abandoned projects by 80 percent and made giant leaps in operational
efficiencies. IPD is nothing new. But it’s something worth re-emphasizing for
There is pressure on manufacturers to further
improve their efficiency and cost-effectiveness due to price competition. Also,
it’s clear that digitization technologies—big data analytics, real-time
planning, and autonomous systems—are pointing manufacturers toward this
direction. Technologies that can increase efficiency are readily accessible to
Integrating human and technical resources
Digitization is key to increasing efficiency
in various manufacturing processes like forecasting, quality mass production,
design prototyping, and safety issues, to name a few. However, it
also brings the challenge of finding workers with the right skills, or training
current and new workers promptly.
Technology for manufacturing has different
levels of human supervision or manipulation needed. Learning to operate a new
machine feature may require minimal training. On the other hand, worker augmentation, which
may use sophisticated AI technologies that help assist workers in physical or
mental labor, may require more specialized skills training and university
Companies need to learn how to optimize and
enhance technology use for their desired purpose. Those that can do this
quickly will have good leverage over those who can’t.
Adapting to a volatile market by becoming
To gain a competitive edge in a volatile
industry, you need highly efficient systems and processes in place. An
integrated approach to product development, timely integration of technology,
and a tech-trained human resources can help you gain that edge.