The global manufacturing industry is currently facing a complex transition period. The financial crisis along with unstable global markets have challenged manufacturer's profits and threatened their ability to expand into new markets.
IDC Manufacturing Insights conducted a recent survey investigating the "factory of the future." According to the report "Business Strategy: The Journey Toward the People-Intensive Factory of the Future," results showed challenges such as tough economic times and rising market complexity are driving manufacturers to rethink factory management. More than 43% of survey respondents declared they have a formal process in place to design future production plants, according to the report.
Key findings from the report include:
- More than 56% of survey respondents said their future factories will be measured by production capability and production, rather than the traditional efficiency and production amount.
- Nearly 10% of Western enterprises anticipate moving away from make-to-stock and toward make-to-individual over the next five years.
- The global plant floor will become a place were manufacturers harmonize, supervise and coordinate execution activites across the company and supplier's operations network.
- The factory of the future will center on flexibility and decision making – hiring skilled workers to fulfill these jobs is essential.
- Over the next five years, 63.6% of respondents said they anticipate their production processes to mostly or completely be digital. More than 26% said they would invest more than 25% of their total budgets on plant-floor IT.
The last 15 years have proven to be a "neglected" period in the manufacturing industry, as it was seen to be a bad investment by advanced global economies. However, this is all changing as governments around the world are realizing that manufacturing is critical to surviving long term. Manufacturers are going back to the basics, and putting more efforts toward improving production knowledge and the need to enhance their technology.
"The manufacturing industry is back onstage in developed countries worldwide. Governments, media, manufacturers themselves and their people are all changing their mindset with a stronger focus on production," said Pierfrancesco Manenti, head of IDC, EMEA and practice director for operations technology strategies. "We are about to witness a new generation of manufacturing enterprises where operational processes on the plant floor — at the very heart of the enterprise — are considered the centerpiece of this transformation."