The manufacturing industry is on the cusp of change. This sector has been seeking efficiencies across various functional areas including power savings, greater supply chain efficiencies, process efficiencies across all functional areas and greater automation and technology driven innovations that drive up productivity, lower costs and enhance profitability. The year 2020-21 will be the one that will see the manufacturing industry going through a phase of significant transformation. It is heading into a phase referred to as the fourth Industrial Revolution.
Over the last few years, we have seen manufacturing companies taking advantage of a whole host of new technologies and IT models to enhance productivity levels, control costs, enhance profitability and customer experience. Manufacturing companies are getting digitally savvy. There are automotive companies today which use M2M technologies to provide preventive maintenance services to their customers. We have motorbike manufacturers selling both bikes and spares online. We have truck manufacturers like Ashok Leyland offering a slew of fleet maintenance services to their customers by deploying analytics and the Internet of Things (IoT). We have logistics companies that track their fleets and consignment to provide customers an enhanced experience. FMCG companies are all riding the digital wave to serve customers better as well as stay competitive and productive.
In 2020-21, one of the major changes you will see in the way manufacturing companies work is the way they will use IoT devices. They will use sensors to track pretty much everything they have in their warehouses. They will track the movement of spares and products that are delivered to customer locations. And more importantly they will analyze this data to optimize their operational costs as well as achieve proactive order fulfilment. As of today most manufacturing are using descriptive analytics. With the amount of data IoT devices generate, they will have to transition to predictive or prescriptive analytics.
3D printing is another technology that is making roads into the manufacturing sector. The old style of manufacturing required them to build huge plants and massproduce stuff, get the prototypes right and ship products out. Advances in 3D printing technology help them build production models that are more cost effective and reduce the costs that go into prototyping new products. 2020-21 will see an increased adoption of 3D printing by manufacturing companies.
The next big trend we will see in 2020-21 is an increase in the level of automation. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) started picking up in 2019. There will be more manufacturers going for process automation driven by algorithms next year. The use of other AI and ML tools for pushing up automation levels will also go up. Automated solutions will also drive new approaches to manufacturing such as additive manufacturing. Manufacturing sector is also making a transition to cloud in a major way. Companies are expected to embrace hybrid and multi cloud models in 2020.
All these combined with using the use of digital domain to connect with customers, understand their needs and find more efficient fulfilment models will drive the manufacturing industry in the coming year.
Photograph: Tomasz Pro/Flickr