Manufacturing has navigated a roller coaster of a landscape over the past 10 years, and the future appears to be ever-changing. Whether it be the election of a new president in the US who promises to increase manufacturing jobs or the increasingly important technologies such as the IIoTs or big data analytics that make up the Fourth Industrial Revolution, manufacturing is transforming. This transformation is from legacy, antiquated manufacturing techniques to what is called smart manufacturing. Smart manufacturing is making data more and more readily available and thus the entire manufacturing process is benefiting. And as many other articles have stated, any manufacturers that do not invest in this upcoming technological revolution risk being overtaken by competitors that do.
Though the switch to the digital data transformation isn’t quite do or die just yet, it certainly will be soon. A report from the Conference Board of Canada from earlier this year found that some manufacturers are working with 20-year-old software. It would appear that some in the industry do not feel that making that adapting to the newest technology is necessary which could be disastrous. There is a golden opportunity for small to medium size manufacturers to experiment with smart manufacturing solutions as firms of these size have nimbleness and ability to make digital changes quickly. Furthermore, applying digital technology can be as simple as smart tags for better real-time tracking of inventory or cloud technology to aggregate and transfer information across the supply chain.
Some other simpler but advantageous smart technologies that small to medium sized firms can implement are mobile technologies such as smart phones, smart tablets, and smart watches as well as IIoTs. Mobile technologies are relatively easy to implement and now affordable, and they allow managers to record and share real-time data easily. The IIoTs is also catching on quickly with 40% of firms surveyed saying they already have some form of the IoTs in place. The IIoTs can be used to optimize processes as well the key benefit of preventative maintenance. Despite these advantages, nearly one-third of declining manufacturers expect to decrease their IT expenditures in the next year, which means firms in this category will be hitting serious roadblocks in the very near future.
Do you think the lack of investment in digital technologies could be due to management’s fear that these technologies might actually lead to a decrease in the need for actual human workers?
Does an decrease in IT spending absolutely mean that a company will not be investing in any smart technologies?
Do you think that another holdup with regard to implementing even simple digital technologies is the lack of ability to quantify the cost savings?