Challenges & Opportunities in The Great Industrial Transfer
We are currently in the midst of “The Great Industrial Transfer” – a phenomenon where sections of manufacturing are increasingly moving to newer emerging markets in the region that offer lower-cost options. At the same time, volatility in the world economy is being felt keenly by manufacturers in the region, with growing pressure to be globally competitive.
Manufacturers will realise that it may no longer be sustainable for them to compete solely on price. The democratisation of technologies has led to a new regional marketplace with a rising consumer class demanding localised, customised and high-quality products. Changes in fabrication processes and the “consumerisation” of design have enabled the creation of customised products that are not only reasonably priced, but often more innovative and impactful.
There is hence a need for manufacturers to seek out an end-to-end approach that comprises design software to create configurable products, a data management solution for optimising investment in that data, and industry-specific solutions tailored to meet business challenges. This can be complemented by a lean approach to the manufacturing process, using software tools that enable all stakeholders to share the same data and production view – this approach is embodied by the agile manufacturing philosophy.
With this philosophy, the smart factory of the future is born, whereby premium and efficient class motors, pumps and compressors, all requiring low voltage drives, will be an integral part of the factory. According to a recent Frost and Sullivan report on ‘Manufacturing Industry in ASEAN’, manufacturers can look towards achieving a 10 per cent decrease in production time; 30 per cent savings in project cost; 20 per cent reduction in manual labour; as well as reduced CO2 emissions.
Three Technology Levers for Agile Manufacturing Adoption
Adopting an agile manufacturing philosophy means that manufacturing processes are focused on meeting the needs of customers while maintaining high standards of quality and controlling the overall costs involved in production.
There are three technology levers for agile manufacturing adoption today: (1) digital prototyping, (2) cloud-based integrated systems, and (3) mass customisation and configuration.
Digital prototyping enables manufacturing workgroups to develop a single digital model, which can be used in every stage of production—bridging the gaps that usually exist between conceptual design, engineering, and manufacturing teams. This single digital model simulates the complete product and gives engineers the ability to better design, visualise, and simulate their product with less reliance on costly physical prototypes—thereby improving time-to-market, and increasing competitive advantage.
Cloud-Based Integrated Systems
To make digital prototyping solutions more feasible, a flexible, cost-effective, and collaborative management solution is required. This is what Cloud brings. The Cloud is a single point of access for everything designers, engineers, and manufacturers need to get their jobs done from anywhere, at any time, from any device. The actual game-changing element of cloudbased technologies comes from leveraging it to target a set of pervasive customer challenges and workflows.
With digital prototyping and cloud-based integrated systems in place, manufacturers can effectively tailor products and services according to customer demands – driving greater innovation, differentiated go-to-market and customer-oriented output easier than before.
Mass Customisation and Configuration
Effectively meeting customer demands with tailored products and services that are user-centric have never been easier than before. Solutions like Digital Prototyping and Additive Manufacturing drive greater innovation, differentiated go-to-market and customer-oriented output.
Manufacturers now have access to solutions that provide the ability to develop processes that push them ahead of the market and powerfully build business. With next-generation solutions, companies can launch high-quality products at a much faster rate, enabling market growth.
Taking the First Step
Forward-thinking manufacturers who have started to adopt agile manufacturing include the likes of Hirata Corporation of Japan, and the results have proved heartening. Mr Yuji Nonaka, chief of the engineering department at Hirata Corporation, which provides factory production equipment to the automotive, semiconductor and consumer electronics industries, hailed the adoption of 3D prototyping solutions.
“Using a 3D model avoids misunderstanding and improves sharing. In fact, we have been able to reduce review meeting times, and now we spend less than half of what we used to spend and have saved a lot of travel expenses for overseas projects,” said Mr Nonaka.
The Future of Making Things
Thanks to the radical changes underway in manufacturing and supply chain processes, nearly anyone with an idea can turn concepts into reality overnight and scale globally. Accelerating technology is finally meeting the demands of the creative process, and enabling innovation.
Manufacturers find themselves in the midst of a new industrial revolution that places a premium on the ability to design and engineer products that are both beautiful and functional. As opposed to manufacturing happening for the entire world concentrated in one hot spot, the trend is that we are going to witness a more distributed model. The future of making things that have a profound impact on the world is here—today. There is no better time than now to be equipped with a smart, agile plan of attack.