If you think about it, most industries have been affected by the exponential growth of digital—and manufacturing is no exception. In fact, over the past decade, the number of manufacturing employees has decreased, while manufacturing output has increased. The catalyst: smarter technologies and more efficient processes. Growing digital capabilities are a big part of that equation. Today’s engineers are incorporating algorithms, IoT, and automation into both new and existing systems. In practice, these technological capabilities are enabling manufacturers to automate, integrate, and communicate like never before. And as the world becomes more connected, it’s changing the relationship between producer and end user.
Here are a few technology-focused drivers shaping the manufacturing industry right now.
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Industry Trend #1
“The Industrial Revolution” is a term that, for many, conjures images of old-timey factories and Model T Fords. But today’s decision makers know the manufacturing industry is still evolving. In fact, the rise of digital has ushered in “The Fourth Industrial Revolution” or “Industry 4.0.” Instead of replacing man with machines as earlier industrial revolutions did, the digital revolution is more focused on creating greater overall value from existing employees and assets.
From R&D to resource management, digital capabilities are finding their way into every part of manufacturing. And it’s all built on data. Market forecasts. Online product configurations by customers. Even social media feedback. Today, we’re laying the groundwork to be able to not only identify product demand in real-time—but also update production on the fly to meet that demand. (Think Uber’s “surge pricing,” but applied to entire manufacturing processes!)
So if that’s what the future looks like—how do you get there? Every big change starts with a vision, even when it comes to your digital transformation goals. There are important questions to ask on a big-picture scale, like What isn’t working right now? Are there specific areas we know digital can help improve? What shouldn’t change no matter what? Softway can help you work through these questions and more. Our digital transformation solutions can help streamline your digital needs, aligning more than processes and technologies—but also the people you need to help run them. Read more here.
Industry Trend #2
The old formula: create a product, bake in the biggest margins possible, slap a nice brand on it—and people will buy. But what if the way you make your product becomes a vital part of your brand? That’s the crux of the manufacturer-consumer relationship today.
More and more, consumers are seeking out the story behind their products and even the mission of the company as a whole—including how materials are sourced, how the environment is impacted by production, and how employees are treated along the way. That’s not to say that every brand has to lead with sustainability. But it does mean there’s a growing expectation for brands to consider and internalize their impact—and then aim for continuous improvements.
For example, Adidas has set ambitious sustainability targets for 2020 that cover water usage, materials and processes, energy conservation, empowering their people, and more. Naturally, success hinges on their ability to bake these values into the details of their manufacturing process.
Do you have your own sustainability values that you’re ready to share with the world? We can help you create a message that’s less about “sounding good,” and more about identifying the good you’re already able to do. Want to know more? Here’s one way we can help.
Industry Trend #3
We hear about digital transformation in manufacturing, but what does it really mean? Sure, IoT, automation, and robotics can all be a part of that digital transformation solution. But, in many ways, they’re a means to an end. Believe it or not, changing the technology inside your business is a lot simpler than getting your people on board with those changes.
Successful manufacturing decision makers understand that these new technologies can only work in coordination with an enthusiastic and educated workforce. One that understands the new vision and goal of any digital transformation efforts. To help ensure workforces can adapt to change safely, effectively, and all while preserving morale—employees must not only be told the new vision, but also understand how it applies to their everyday roles.
Softway can help spread the word. Whether you need education & training programs or a complete internal communication campaign, we understand that even as you build out your physical assets, it’s the people who help drive your business forward.
We’re here with expert strategists who can help you get to the heart of your business needs—and seasoned UX, creative, and development teams to create the solutions. If you want to get together, look at some past work samples, and talk through some possible approaches, we’re ready when you are.