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6 Big Issues that Will Disrupt Manufacturing

Manufacturers face many challenges today as they try to prepare their business for the future. To help all manufacturers make that transformation easier, the Manufacturing Leadership Council recently announced its Critical Issues roadmap to Manufacturing 4.0.

gettyimages-500160330-compressorThe MLC consulted with more than 500 senior executives and associate members and identified 6 critical issues facing the industry as it moves to the information-based future. We share them here.

1. Factories of the future. The MLC says all manufacturers must embrace the transition to Manufacturing 4.0 to create autonomous, flexible, connected and automated sustainable factories and production models. Companies need to aim for end-to-end digitization and analysis of processes to create factories that use technology to squeeze out every ounce of efficiency.

“Factories of the future can vary, but the one characteristic they share is a creative mindset for problem-solving and out-of-the box thinking.”

IndustryWeek said that while factories of the future can vary, the one characteristic they share is “a creative mindset for problem-solving and out-of-the box thinking.” Building a factory of the future means being open to change on almost every level and willingness to diverge from traditional manufacturing principles.

2. The integrated manufacturing enterprise. Manufacturers need to reduce or eliminate age-old organizational silos and create more integrated, cross-functional and collaborative enterprise structures. These new structures must be supported by new digital technologies that stretch across the chain and integrate all departments as a part of the whole.

3. Innovation in manufacturing. Manufacturing companies must now develop and manage the innovation process in constant search of new products, processes and efficient methods. Analysts and directors at the McKinsey Global Institute said that manufacturers will play an increasing role in global growth and innovation and will need to look both inside and outside their walls for new ideas.

4. Transformative technologies. Manufacturing 4.0-enabling technologies can help organizations achieve greater agility and competitiveness to drive growth and create better customer experiences. Manufacturers will need to look more to smart machines, IoT, 3D printing, modeling, and the cloud to enhance their operations.

The federal government recently announced the launch of five new manufacturing hub competitions, which will invest $800 million to support transformative technologies ranging from the biofabrication of cells and tissues to the use of robotics.

5. Next-generation manufacturing leadership and the changing workforce. Manufacturers need to build and retain teams that are more collaborative, innovative and can make rapid decisions. For some organizations, this can mean a big change in organizational structure and the way human resources are managed. Leaders will need to embrace new strategies that place more emphasis on motivating and retaining talent.

David Reisner, director of the ITA Group, told Manufacturing Business Technology that motivations among manufacturing employees are changing. This is especially true among millennials, who are projected to be the biggest source to fill the skills gap. Reisner said that manufacturers will need flexible motivation programs that can incentivize a workforce that is diverse in age and values. “Finding the right blend of intrinsic and extrinsic motivators entails a holistic approach that effectively mirrors the interest of your multi-gen workforce,” he said.

6. Cybersecurity. As manufacturing becomes more complex and moves more into the digital world, cybersecurity is become a growing issue. Manufacturers must identify their challenges and create processes and a culture that will ensure data security.

A recent report from BDO indicates that more than 90% of manufacturers cited cybersecurity concerns in their most recent SEC disclosures. That’s a 44% increase compared to 2013.


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