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January 11, 2013

Manufacturing Trends you cannot afford to miss in 2013

Posted by Sanjay Jalona (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:48 AM

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Just this morning I found myself whistling the tune of a wonderful old ballad. The song was "Just In Time" - the same one Sinatra made so popular decades ago. In any case, I realized I couldn't have whistled a more appropriate song after I stumbled across Infosys list of the five hottest manufacturing trends for 2013.

Just-in-time is a term used by operations management gurus to describe the revolution that took place in the manufacturing world over the past three decades. In a bygone era, you ordered parts and components from your Tier 2 suppliers based on what you think you would sell in the coming quarter. You fired up the assembly lines and hoped you'd move inventory out the door as quickly as you put it all together. The beauty of just-in-time manufacturing is that it took the guesswork out of the inventory ordering process. Your company didn't have valuable components sitting around. True, just-in-time manufacturing has been around for decades now, but the technologies that help manufacturers eke out even more efficiencies from this manufacturing process are better than ever. 

These trends, which I am summarizing again are the ones making just-in-time well - more just-in-time. 

Supply chain risk management: Reactive to proactive. ?Technology is getting more intelligent. The coming year will see a preponderance of new tools that will empower manufacturers to react faster to disruptive events. They'll be able to monitor risks, identify alternate suppliers, and help collaborate with partners to plan mitigation strategies.

Plug-and-play manufacturing plants.One of the challenges that Western conglomerates face when attempting to tap into the vast manufacturing talent pools in emerging economies is the amount of time it takes to get a new plant up and running. Just imagine connecting your new plant to corporate headquarters in a matter of a few weeks instead of the possibility of a yearlong slog of an on-premises ERP implementation. Manufacturers are looking to the Cloud to make that quick turnover happen. And their regional plants in emerging market countries will thank them for it. 

The promise of mobility to create a real-time enterprise. In much the same way that just-in-time manufacturing revolutionized the industry, so too will mobility in 2013. It's delivering digitized workflows and real-time operational visibility to operations management. Mobility means manufacturing intelligence in 2013. From design to production to sales, mobility is placing assembly line transparency and intelligence into the hands of each employee.

More bang for the social buck. The more a company knows about trends in the marketplace and customer behavior, the more efficient its manufacturing processes will be. That's why social media is a vital trend to watch in 2013. Manufacturers will capitalize on their social media investments by using it as a collaborative tool. They'll make sure the right experts solve the appropriate problems, they'll gather more business intelligence, and they'll connect their enterprise to end-users for a whole new set of ideas.

Using Big Data to mine petabytes for new meaning. There's no reason to discard data anymore simply because you don't have the capacity to store or process it. You do. Big Data is the key to collecting information on manufacturing processes down to the last detail and translating it into assembly line action. Finding the needle in the haystack has never been easier. 

What a transformation! Customers telling manufacturers about their preferences. Manufacturing plants up and running in weeks instead of months. And every employee being his or her own assembly line foreman. 

There's going to be so much transparency and valuable information at our fingertips in 2013. I believe, this is the year when all those trends we've been hearing about, for many years now, will become a reality.

Comments

Well summarized, i think one important aspect of the plug and play manufacturing plants is the impact of M2M technologies. Autonomous process and systems will become prominent and make supply chain transparent to help manufacturers react faster to market dynamics and customer demands.

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