The manufacturing industry is constantly evolving. Lean manufacturing principles as well as an emphasis on optimizing processes are changing the landscape. Manufacturers can position themselves for success by understanding key trends and challenges for the smart factory of tomorrow.
The status quo is a snapshot in time for what worked yesterday. This can be both a positive and negative mindset. The status quo represents stability and predictability. What worked yesterday will probably work tomorrow. It’s easy, predictable and does not require change.
The danger of maintaining the status quo comes from ignorance of current trends and inflexibility to consider new processes. What if the processes that worked yesterday don’t work tomorrow? Without metrics, there is no way to analyze historical data and measure a drop in efficiency. Deloitte predicts that technology will play a significant role in supporting manufacturers as they face challenges in 2024 including sourcing talent, digitizing their factory and adopting sustainable practices. The smart factory of tomorrow – made reality today.
The status quo is a moment in time. Continuous improvement is a journey. Manufacturers need a production monitoring system that can grow with them to meet the challenges of tomorrow.
The last decade has seen a transformation in manufacturing. Legislation in 2021 and 2022 from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors and Science Acts, and the Inflation Reduction Act are aimed at fostering job growth, workforce development, and equity. US manufacturers in the construction field saw record private sector investments across various sectors. More manufacturers are revamping their set-up to incorporate lean or six sigma methodologies. The status quo is a dangerous place to be if businesses ignore manufacturing trends.
Wide adoption of automated systems have taken over repetitive and dangerous tasks, boosting efficiency and productivity. AI has also become a major player for automating tasks, generating codes and more. American Honda has explored the AI vendor landscape based on three factors: capability of the tool, speed of deployment and risk mitigation. Manual data entry and reporting is time-consuming, error-prone and inefficient.
The Internet of Things (IoT) connects machines and sensors, providing real-time data on production processes, enabling remote monitoring and control. Analytics use historical data to provide insight, optimize the current process and predict potential problems. According to a 2019 study by Deloitte’s Research Center for Energy & Industrials, 83% of manufacturers believe that smart factory solutions will transform the way products are made in five years. Five years puts us on track for 2024.
Production can be spread across different countries to leverage cost advantages. Recent events like the COVID-19 pandemic have sparked concerns about the reliance on global supply chains. Rising costs, logistics delays and labor shortfalls have also affected the industry. Cloud based applications like Amazon Web Services were launched in 2022 to help users respond to changing market conditions by increasing supply chain visibility.
Consumer demand for environmentally friendly products is driving manufacturers to adopt sustainable practices such as renewable energy sources, reducing waste and circular economy models. Since the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) in August 2022, more than 250 projects have been announced that will take advantage of new tax credits. Understanding how energy is consumed is critical in making data-driven energy decisions.
Collaboration between humans and machines requires new skills in communication, problem-solving and data interpretation. The modern workforce is evolving and creating great changes in workplace culture. Workers need more technical and analytical skills in this age of automation. Some of this training is coming from organizations including SME who have kickstarted initiatives to build awareness for careers in manufacturing. Employers are also being tapped to include re-skilling and up-skilling in their talent strategy. Manufacturing is the main economic engine and primary employer in 500 US counties.
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