manufacturing industry challenges
Leading players in the manufacturing industry are confronting uncertainties in the face of digitization and new customer expectations. The manufacturing industry is one of the important wealth-generating sectors of the global economy and accounts for a significant share of the global workforce to develop materials needed by organizations across various industries. Moreover, as the drumbeat for innovation and digitization grows louder, companies in the manufacturing industry are facing the need to plan new strategies and invest more in technology to gain a stronger foothold. Consequently, the advent of technology is posing a new set of challenges before the industry, which need to be addressed in order to maintain the growth momentum. In this article, we have discussed some of those challenges and have suggested a few measures to tackle them effectively.
Challenges in the Manufacturing Industry
Challenge #1: Shortage of skilled labor
With the baby boomer generation entering the phase of retirement, the manufacturing industry is facing an acute shortage of labor. Today, employers in the manufacturing industry need employees with a different set of skills. There are certain tasks that have become automated and machine sensors have become more commonplace. This has created the need for manufacturers to collect large amounts of data and is opening up new avenues for employment.
Solution: To tackle this challenge, manufacturers need to plan their strategic workforce smartly. Also, they should focus more on recruiting millennials who have technical skills and ‘know-how’. Additionally, there must be an emphasis on STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills to streamline recruitment initiatives.
Challenge #2: Management of project
In the manufacturing industry, projects are typically cost, time, and quality sensitive and, as a result, tend to be rigid and tightly controlled. Such rigidity and tight control mean less ability to make adjustments or update scope as the project progresses. Many of these projects need a design commitment, with little flexibility to alter as requirements change or new information pops up. This becomes quite frustrating for a team that wants to produce the best product but is handcuffed by deadline constraints.
Solution: To deal with such manufacturing industry challenges, the team leader needs to ask for dedicated resources. Also, utilizing the project service automation software that includes universal resource scheduling can help the manufacturers to quickly find resources that are available and adjust the schedule based on the predicted completion date of the project.
Challenge #3: Analyzing the data
With the increasing use of the Internet of Things (IoT), the manufacturing industry is facing difficulties in aggregating and analyzing the data. While many organizations may have smart machines already on their shop floor, they lack the systems to extract and analyze the data being captured by these systems. This forces manufacturers to miss out on quality. Therefore, manufacturers are facing the dire need to improve their data mining capacities to improve real-time decisions.
Solution: Implementing an IoT solution designed to help maintenance of predictive analytics, as well as remote monitoring, can help companies in the manufacturing industry to analyze their data in real-time. Also, this can help in predicting the time when maintenance of an asset is required. Consequently, manufacturers can shift from replace or repair maintenance model to a fix and predict model.
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Manufacturing is and will continue to be a critical force in both advanced and developing economies. However, the global manufacturing sector has undergone a tumultuous decade. From large developing economies leaping into the first tier of manufacturing nations, a severe recession choking off demand, to manufacturing employment falling at an accelerated rate in advanced economies. The good news here is that the manufacturing industry is all ready to be re-imagined, reinvented, and reborn. Here are five incredibly potent opportunities in manufacturing that manufacturers have to pounce upon if they wish to stay competitive through smarter manufacturing:
Smart manufacturing opportunities in manufacturing
Intelligence in the manufacturing industry must be carefully planned, implemented, managed and invested in. This generally requires a completely new view and perspective regarding what is traditionally looked at as strictly a mechanical or procedural challenge. This includes advanced data collection from sensors and actuators, immediate knowledge of inventory, assets, production condition; and increased process, productivity, and cost granularity.
Manufacturing intelligence must be used by companies in the manufacturing industry in such a way that it will predict the future so that decisions and actions are taken before problems emerge, before the occurrence of risk, and before opportunities are wasted. This includes enabling predictive technologies, embedded analytics, and rapid response capabilities.
Quality management is the way ahead for how players in the manufacturing industry can achieve nearly zero waste, zero incidents, and zero emissions. The new improvements in quality will develop from factors including information visibility, connectivity, and analytics.
Manufacturing network monitoring
The ability to see and act on your entire network enables companies in the manufacturing industry to predict problems, quickly deploy corrective actions (such as repairs), and keep the entire network humming. This results in improved operational decisions; enhanced remote visibility; and the lowest cost of production possible.
Visibility and visualization
Unless information helps businesses to understand and act, it becomes practically meaningless. It is necessary to have a holistic, dynamic view of the company’s operations in real-time, and visualize people, systems, assets, and inventories as they make their way through a complex supply chain. Manufacturers can see multiple factories in a single view, utilize advanced manufacturing dashboards; and optimize their capacity across the entire enterprise using new instrumentation, networks, and control rooms.
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Market research involves systematically gathering comprehensive data about a market. The results of market research, which are usually summarized in a report, are then used to help business owners make more informed decisions about the company’s strategies, operations, and potential customer base. It also plays a critical role in analyzing industry shifts, changing consumer needs and preferences, and legislative trends, among other things, can shape where a business chooses to focus its efforts and resources. That’s the value of market research. Market research is cardinal to all industries, but it is particularly vital and indispensable for manufacturing companies. This is primarily because for manufacturing companies the costs and consequences of making misinformed decisions can prove to be fatal. Moreover, any wrong decisions can be catastrophic especially in cases such as new product launches, entering new markets, and acquiring businesses. In this blog, manufacturing industry experts from Infiniti Research have discussed some of the key factors that make market research pivotal for manufacturing companies:
Gain a high spot during B2B sales cycles
In the case of manufacturing companies, the duration of a B2B cycle can range from a few months to a year. Using an effective market research study, players in the manufacturing industry can identify and analyze methods and content including eBooks, videos, and demos that will engage prospects, and keep them top-of-mind across the buyer’s journey.
Identify buyer personas
A buyer persona is a hypothetical representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about the company’s existing customers. Market research facilitates manufacturing companies to identify each of the buyer personas that they are likely to encounter. This encompasses the procurement managers, heads of production and engineering, production line workers, quality managers, health and safety managers, technicians, and field engineers. Manufacturing companies can then build strategies that engage and impress each of them accordingly.
Discover unavailable information
Although secondary sources of collecting data often prove to be quite useful, there are several cases where a market research report that is customized to provide the required insights for manufacturing companies prove to be more valid. These reports provide manufacturing companies with the insights required to make informed business decisions regarding aspects like differentiation, customer experience, new products, product evolution, segmentation, channels, market opportunities, and market sizing.
Risk mitigation is one of the primary factors that decided the success or failure of manufacturing companies. Companies that replace more unknowns with knowns when compared to their competitors, put themselves in a position to reap substantial and sustainable gain. Market research replaces speculation and assumptions with hard data and reliable evidence — which, in both the short run and long term, can make all the difference between thriving and struggling.
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Basically, risks are of different types and many of them are braided together like reputational risks, financial risks, operational risks, third-party or supply chain risks, legal or compliance risks, and several others. Operational risks, generally, are viewed through the lens of safety management in an organization but for manufacturers, it is important to see the link between safety and operational risk management. The rationale for improving the operational risk management process is not only limited to safety but goes beyond it. There are many compelling tested and verified reasons to improve operational risk management in the manufacturing sector.
In this article, we have discussed a few of those reasons that establish the fact that it is highly essential to improve operational risk management process to improve productivity and growth of an organization.
Reasons to improve operational risk management process
Reason 1: Attain financial goals
There are many manufacturers who see the relationship between enhancing productivity and mitigating operational risks. But for better operational risk management, it is essential to move one step further and also see the relation in terms of financial performance. It is important to minimize the impact of operational risks on financial goals. Additionally, manufacturing companies must align operational data with financial data to analyze the financial impact of adverse events.
Reason 2: Improve and increase collaboration
If the financial goals are achieved, it has hard and quantifiable benefits. But implementing an operational risk management process also fetches soft benefits like improved cooperation and collaboration. This can furthermore help in the joint management of risks. The implementation of an operational risk management framework provides the catalyst as well as an incentive for organizations to also boost cross-functional collaboration.
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Reason 3: Standardize risk assessment
Manufacturing organizations, globally, understand that if they successfully mitigate operational risks, it improves the likelihood that corporate goals will be met. To mitigate operational risks successfully, the same procedures, policies, and risk management process must be applied across all the verticals of the company. Best-in-class manufacturers have standardized risk quantification processes across the enterprise.
Reason 4: Build a risk awareness culture
To manage operational risks, it is very important to build a culture of risk awareness. This culture helps manufacturers to establish better visibility into control measures of operational risks. This can further help them to integrate a risk mindset, which further minimizes operational risks and their impact on financial and corporate objectives.
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Today, the manufacturing industry is perhaps one of the most complex and complicated industry in terms of production and operation management in the world. Many manufacturing companies, in a bid to maximize profits, try to simplify their systems to reduce waste of inventory, production, and time. However, to boost profits and growth, manufacturing companies need the help of a market intelligence report. Such reports can help them gain real-time actionable insights into their systems and procedures, which can subsequently help them achieve their goals. But before talking about the solution, let’s look at the challenges that the manufacturing industry is facing globally. (more…)
The shifts in consumer demand coupled with the changing economics of production and distribution are compelling manufacturing companies to explore radically new ways of creating and capturing value. In fact, manufacturing is no longer limited to simply making physical products. Modern customers demand personalization and customization in their products. The new age industrial revolution also termed as industry 4.0 is powered by innovative technologies such as smart manufacturing, robotics, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT). These technologies are expected to be major driving forces in the future of manufacturing. Furthermore, today most industries are increasingly becoming automated and software driven, reducing the human intervention involved. The application of advanced technologies such as nanotechnology, cloud computing and (IoT) is turning tables for manufacturers in ways unimaginable a few decades ago.
Future of manufacturing
Aerospace and biomedical sectors were the first industries to reap the benefits of nanotechnology. However, this technology has slowly made its way into the manufacturing industry, promising to be a prominent resource in the future of manufacturing. Manufacturing companies are using nanotechnology to manufacture lightweight stronger materials for boats, sporting equipment, and auto parts. It is also used in the production of personal care items such as eyeglasses. This technology is believed to be of a significant importance in the future of manufacturing.
Predictive maintenance and big data
Measuring big data in real-time to improving productivity and efficiency will go mainstream in the future of manufacturing. With the help of predictive maintenance technology, manufacturing companies can predict snags and defects and thus cut downtime and costs. The future of manufacturing will witness big data and predictive maintenance in various aspects of the factory.
Leveraging supply chain
Delivering more value to the customers than the competitors is the key to sustain in the future of manufacturing. While pricing is extremely important, savvy players in the manufacturing industry will continue to distance themselves from price wars by leveraging new technology that simplifies supply chain management. This, in turn, would deliver many competitive benefits that include – being able to operate your business more efficiently, more visibility and control over inventory, reduction of operational costs, and improved customer satisfaction and retention.
VR and AR in the future of manufacturing
Advanced technologies such as AR and VR are expected to make a mutually benefitting relationship between man and machine in the manufacturing industry. VR technology can be used to step up the future of manufacturing by interfacing seamlessly with computer-aided designs. With the help of VR, product developers can quickly make modifications and additions to products during the product design stage before they go into modeling and manufacturing processes. AR and VR technologies can also decrease inspection time and assist in detecting errors in addition to improving workers’ sight line, which enables them to complete tasks faster. For instance, by using AR devices such as electronic glasses or goggles, computer-generated graphics can be placed in a worker’s field of vision that provides him with real-time help when it comes to performing a task.
3D printing can ensure less expensive and faster production in the future of manufacturing. Rapid prototyping in 3D printing is a highly cost-effective way for product designers to test and troubleshoot their products. In addition, it enables manufacturing companies to produce items on demand rather than manufacturing and warehousing them beforehand. Also, the 3D printing is also playing a great role in transforming the expensive and time-consuming process of tooling for manufacturers. 3D printing enables tooling to be cost-effectively completed on-site, in days and has already been embraced by the automotive and aerospace manufacturing industries.
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Today, chief information officers (CIOs) of manufacturing companies are facing numerous changes that will affect the future growth prospects of manufacturing companies. Driving this change are a number of opportunities to grow and boost manufacturing processes. Though research shows that manufacturing companies will have ample opportunities to grow, CIOs will witness the advent of new manufacturing challenges that will compel them to change the way they look at strategies to improve the scale, speed, and simplicity of manufacturing processes.
At Infiniti, we are constantly in touch with manufacturers and hear first-hand about the issues they face. Since the manufacturing challenges are real, we thought we’d list out a few so that CIOs of manufacturing companies can devise effective business strategies to address them head-on.
Top manufacturing challenges of 2018
One of the biggest manufacturing challenges that CIOs face today is boosting their revenue growth with the technology systems that they already have in place. Manufacturing companies will have to re-strategize their production workflows to meet the demands of short production runs for existing products and streamline new product introductions.
Shortage of skilled workforce
With Baby Boomers exiting the workforce and taking their valuable manufacturing skills with them, new reports claim that more than three million manufacturing jobs will become available over the next 10 years. Manufacturing companies are already feeling the heat when it comes to filling the vacant positions and the impending exodus of Baby Boomers will only add to their growing tally of manufacturing challenges for this year.
Though new technologies are aimed at making life easier for all of us, that’s not always the case for manufacturing companies. Technologies such as IoT, industrial automation, cloud and edge computing, and robotics are advancing at a break-neck speed. And by the time IT teams of manufacturing companies adjust and get approvals for new technology installations, a better solution emerges. This rapid development and availability of new technologies will be one of the biggest manufacturing challenges of 2018.
One of the major manufacturing challenges faced by CIOs this year is ensuring cybersecurity. With advances in technology and advent of new platforms, the risk of data leaks has also increased. Today, hackers aren’t just happy stealing data, they want to extort money by holding the confidential data hostage. In the past year, Ransomware attacks have almost doubled, and manufacturing companies can expect more frequent attempts as they integrate more technologies into their manufacturing processes.
Risk mitigation and avoiding uncertainties are a crucial part of any business process. When manufacturing regulations change, the costs associated with the manufacturing process also ebbs and flows. Tax regulations and trade agreements keep changing with every news cycle and amendments to government regulations can wreak havoc for manufacturing companies. Manufacturing challenges in the form of regulatory changes is one of the major factors influencing the profitability of manufacturers. As a result, CIOs need to be on top of their game at all times and predict changes before time to remain profitable.
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The latest disruptions in manufacturing technology are bringing about a change in the industry. Modern manufacturing companies are slowly accepting that being exposed to the most recent technological trends in manufacturing is less of an addition and more of a necessity to the business. This has resulted in the gradual shift of several companies from manual manufacturing processes to digital manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing technologies such as nanotechnology, cloud computing, the Internet of Things (IoT) are changing the face of the manufacturing sector. The execution of cutting-edge innovations in manufacturing has brought about a change that would have been unfathomable a decade ago, resulting in increased precision, speed, customization, and efficiency. Here is a look at four manufacturing technologies that are changing the look of manufacturing as we now know it:
#Manufacturing technology 1: 3D printing
The proliferation and application of 3D printing technology in the manufacturing sector have been one of the biggest news making headlines in the recent times. 3D technology can produce almost any component using metal, plastic, mixed materials and even human tissue. Aerospace manufacturers like NASA, GE, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin are already producing critical system components using 3D printing for their engines and systems. With the improving ability to print metal materials in 3D, large and small industrial manufacturers are starting to experiment with this technology to identify how to it can be beneficial for their business.
#Manufacturing technology 2: Light-based manufacturing
Recently, an international team of researchers formulated a light-based manipulation platform with which electronic components for use in smartphones and computers can be manufactured. This manufacturing technology will help replace expensive robots with light for assembling parts. The light-based method relies on devices that use light to manipulate small objects in liquids. This technology has the potential to mass produce electronic parts cheaply and quickly, which could overhaul the way items such as circuit boards are manufactured. At present, expensive robots are required to place and solder minute parts of circuitry into place. When electronic components get smaller, it becomes a time-consuming and challenging process. Micromanipulation manufacturing technology such as light-based manufacturing could prove to be a cheap and simple alternative.
#Manufacturing technology 3: Simulation
The capacity to simulate the production of a part from its design process to its final production will help reduce the present issues encompassing 3D printing in manufacture. Presently, additive manufacturing has mostly been based on trial and error, which can result in a costly development process as companies must tweak the system until they get it right. But simulation provides accurate predictions of how parts will behave, which, in turn, will eventually reduce errors and cut costs. Hence, integrating simulation into manufacture from the beginning to the end will help unleash the full potential of 3D printing in the manufacturing industry.
#Manufacturing technology 4: Smart factory
From smartphones to smart TVs the word ‘smart’ is slowly being prefixed to most of the things around us. We can expect to see this trend in manufacturing companies too in the form of ‘smart factory.’ Smart factories will integrate advanced technologies into every part of the manufacturing process. Companies will gradually start to use manufacturing technology in the form of artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality, and the internet of things. This will result in fully connected, flexible and hyper-efficient manufacturing systems.
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Lean manufacturing is the most trending buzzword in the manufacturing industry which is aimed at efficient use of resources to generate high-quality products. Lean manufacturing is a continuous improvement philosophy which was conceptualized by Kaizen or Toyota Production System. It is the same concept that helped Toyota to compete with the US car industry post-WWII period. The concept seeks to implement business processes that deliver high-quality results while maintaining worker safety and morale and also lowering cost and shortening lead times. Lean manufacturing can significantly improve the efficiency of the manufacturing industry and thereby reduce the production cost. Here are five principles of lean manufacturing that will help the manufacturing industry implement lean techniques.
Value of the product always refers to customer’s need for a specific product. For a long time, companies have been producing goods on the basis of what they think is the best, losing vision of customers being the end-user. As a result, if you want to design the best product, it should always start with finding ways to determine what customers actually want in the first place. They need to understand the customer needs in terms of product functionality, ease of use, and pricing. Players in the manufacturing industry can use tools and techniques such as brainstorming, market gaps identification, consumer research, and quality function deployment to identify various needs of the customers. Subsequently, companies should only engage in activities that improve the value of their product to the customers.
Map the value stream
After assessing what value the customers’ want, the next step is to map the value stream. Companies will have to map all the steps and processes involved in converting raw material into the finished product. In order to abide by the principles of lean management, companies should find the most suitable raw material and engage in adding value to each step and dissolve processes that don’t add value. To simplify things, managers can start out by drawing each step on a page as a map depicting the flow of materials and products through the process.
Create inventory flow
After identifying and removing waste from the value stream, it is important to ensure smooth flow of operations without any delays, interruptions, or bottlenecks. These value-creating steps should occur in tight sequences to ensure a smooth flow till the final product delivery to the customers. Employees must get rid of silo thinking and put in cross-functional efforts across all departments. Cross-functional efforts ensure smooth flow of operations even when employees are reshuffled across departments.
Establish value pull
With improved inventory flow, time to market can be drastically improved. This lean manufacturing principle requires players in the manufacturing industry to set out ways which make customers demand the product rather than pushing the product to them. Simply put, if the product was not designed to suit the customer’s needs, then companies will have a hard time persuading the customer to purchase the products. This saves company time and money as products doesn’t need to be created in advance or material stockpiled.
Achieving perfection is the ultimate goal of the lean manufacturing principle. Manufacturers should always focus on perfecting their products by attaining perfection in each value creation steps and removing waste. Businesses should strive to deliver the product within the designated time and employ continuous improvement tools like Kaizen to achieve perfection.
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