Building A Smart Factory: Potential Pitfalls (part 2)

Continuing on where we left off, worldwide, manufacturing sectors are likely to continue growing, but expect obstacles to this growth. National and regional economies are getting more difficult to predict, and manufacturers face both external and internal challenges. Here are some problems in the manufacturing industry and potential solutions.

Forecasting the demand for products
Today, many manufacturers have difficulty forecasting demand for their products and services. The use of advanced reporting software could – to a certain extent – help them estimate how many items they should sell in the future. Without modern tools, manufacturers often fail to meet customer demand and lose revenue by either building up redundancy or falling short of the market needs.

Controlling inventory
Inventory management is another major challenge to manufacturers. Industry 4.0 concepts expand the scope of manufacturing beyond processes that occur in smart factories to logistical tasks in product design studios, testing labs, and warehouses. Nevertheless, many manufacturers, especially smaller enterprises, manage their inventory without automation or IT. Manually checking stock is inefficient and prone to errors, leading to inaccuracies, shortages, overstock, and damages. Thanks to the help of automated software, however, inventory control has become much more straightforward. Automation – and artificial intelligence-based solutions provide different levels of intelligence and hands-off inventory tracking and management.

Improving process efficiency
Manufacturers never stop looking for effective ways to cut costs and make their processes more efficient. Factory owners often sacrifice the quality of their offerings to cut production costs. This approach can backfire and compromise their revenue when dissatisfied customers stop buying malmanufactured products.

Increasing returns on investment (ROI)
Manufacturers always want to increase their ROI. Often, they increase the selling price of the products when the initial marketing investment gains the branding and secures market share. However, these methods aren’t as effective as they once were, obviously when unpredictable economic conditions reduce consumer purchasing power, or disruptive competitors enter into the same vertical sector. To enhance their ROI, manufacturing companies must engage in short-term and long-term activities to increase their sales, improve their marketing strategies, and continue to control or reduce costs.

Addressing labour shortages
When countries suffer an ageing workforce, many national manufacturing sectors are facing labour shortages. Automation and robots can help fill the labour gap, but manufacturers still need the human capabilities to analyse and solve problems and manage production processes.

Adopting new technologies
New technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) devices, data analytics software, and robots appear on the horizon every year. The variety and number of these products could overwhelm manufacturers with the sheer number of choices. Often we hear questions from the industries such as “Will implementing this technology be the right decision for my manufacturing business?”

“Should I adopt new technology at all? If so, which ones should I invest?”. Getting the product-level details and finances right is just part of the picture. Manufacturers should also plan their Industry 4.0 readiness and related roadmaps before deployment projects begin.

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