Disruption in manufacturing is a reality that is here to stay. Companies that don’t change the manufacturing process and the approach to customer relationships face a legitimate risk of business failure. To successfully evolve as a 21st century business, every member of the organization needs to understand the four components driving the disruption. These include:
- Adoption of new technology: As little as a decade ago, people typically saw new technology for the first time at work. Today, many people first use a product at home and bring it to the job to demonstrate how it improves efficiency.
- Customer expectations: With product information and reviews readily available, people make buying decisions on their own rather than relying on a company’s selling points.
- Converging industries: Industries used to operate as separate entities and only come together to exchange information. The current trend is to use the most capable person or even machine to get the job done, such as an architect doing work typically associated with an interior designer or a robot taking over a manufacturing assembly line.
- Changes in buyer demand: People are no longer content with a product that looks like everyone else’s does. Companies must adjust to the fact that customers expect more customization options to make the product unique to them.
Today’s Workforce is Radically Different
People no longer work in the same manner to produce consumer and industrial products as they did in the past. With today’s workforce, it’s entirely possible for a group of designers and manufacturers to work collaboratively on a project without ever meeting in person. This also levels the playing field for solo entrepreneurs and small companies to get their products in the public eye.
Crowdfunding has also changed the way that people raise money to construct new products. Design teams can skip the presentation to investors and go directly to the consumers for their input and financial support.
Top Trends Affecting Digital Factories
In 2015, Mesa International conducted a survey of manufacturers to identify the most prominent trends impacting the way digital factories operate today. Nearly half of the respondents reported that they expect big data analytics to play a significant role in how they operate their businesses going forward. Big data analytics includes such components as real-time factory performance analysis, real-time re-planning, and real-time supply chain performance analysis. If they haven’t already, most respondents expected to implement the Internet of Things and 3D printing technology to improve efficiency and remain competitive in producing useful products.
Leaders in the manufacturing world are depending on big data analytics to help them adjust to the four prominent areas of disruption identified above. They have high expectations of it, including the ability to reduce operating costs and make efficient use of company assets. In fact, the 47 percent who reported an increased dependence on big data analytics expect it to become a core part of the way their businesses operate.
The take-away message in this is that people accustomed to technology and connectivity will expect manufacturers to continually produce better products. Those that are up to the challenge will thrive while those who insist on doing things the way they have always been done will lose out to the competition.