The strategy of playing it safe to avoid big losses is a mistake when it comes to the manufacturing industry. Instead, American manufacturers need to embrace technological advancements and make key investments that will improve productivity to remain competitive in a global manufacturing landscape that is being pressured by countries like China, Brazil and India. According to a new PwC report, “2016 Industrial Manufacturing Trends,” making strategic investments is one key to growth, particularly in fast-evolving industries.
“Manufacturing may be facing some headwinds, but it’s undeniably in the midst of a technological renaissance that is transforming the look, systems and processes of the modern factory,” the report states. “Despite the risks—and recent history—industrial manufacturing companies cannot afford to ignore these advances. By embracing them now, they can improve productivity in their own plants, compete against rivals and maintain an edge with customers who are seeking their own gains from innovation.”
The report’s authors, Robert Bono, leader of the PwC US industrial manufacturing practice, and Stephen Pillsbury, principal with PwC’s automotive, industrial and aerospace practice, say manufacturers should prepare for a data-driven factory of the future where all internal and external activities are interconnected on the same platform.
What innovations will have the greatest impact on the industry? Bono and Pillsbury say the Internet of Things, robotics, augmented reality and 3D printing are driving much of the change in manufacturing. The report added many of the innovations used in manufacturing today will be commonplace within the next five to 10 years, meaning manufacturing executives “must lead with an eye toward that reality, not merely the current bottom line.”
Nitin Rakesh, CEO and president of Syntel, says the Digital Age has disrupted many different aspects of manufacturing. “From research and development to marketing and sales, businesses cannot afford to put production on hold in order to modernize, but must transform their manufacturing processes to thrive in an increasingly competitive environment,” he says. “Financial pressures in the manufacturing sector are prompting organizations to reassess how they use technology in their manufacturing operations to determine how they can best modernize their systems to maintain a competitive edge.”
“The digital revolution has reached the factory floor,” Rakesh adds. “Investments in IoT-enabled machinery and connected devices now enable manufacturers to harness data from these assets to optimize factory operations. Through integrated sensors and automation technology, organizations are positioned to make more effective decisions in other areas such as finance, product design and distribution.”