5 Key Trends for Manufacturers in 2017

Posted by Marissa Kinsley, Manufacturing and Wholesale Distribution Industry Marketing Lead

The manufacturing world is evolving more rapidly than ever before and a bevy of externalities spanning political, global, technological and even demographic are bound to reshape this once static industry. From robotics to analytics to lean manufacturing, the way manufacturers ran in our grandparent’s era is dying out. In times like these, the old adage “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” simply does not cut it - to not risk changing is to risk failing. As 2017 begins, we’ve identified the five most important trends we see for manufacturers in 2017.

Manufacturing is Getting Smarter

The combination of industrial robotics and the Internet of Things are fundamentally transforming the way we manufacture. As shop floor robotics progress and evolve, more data about our manufacturing processes is available than ever before. The once hyper-industrialized shop floor has ceased to be a jumbled cluster of machinery and has been transformed into a finely tuned web of modern technology – a series of moving parts integrated into a single network that can provide powerful insights.

Predictive Analytics are Changing how we Make Decisions

Because of smarter manufacturing, data on our manufacturing processes is available at the push of a button. There is a wide array of data on the shop floor that can be hugely valuable for business decision-making and process enhancements if used correctly. From improved quality and more accurate demand forecasting to better maximized equipment usage and increased equipment value, the benefits of predictive analytics can be huge. At a baseline this requires the right tools to harness data with ease and efficiency – which is where cloud tools for reporting and analytics, quality management, warehouse management, inventory management and shop floor controls come into play.

Factories are Getting Leaner and Cleaner

With smarter manufacturing and improved data analysis comes process improvements to the shop floor. As new technologies are introduced and process data is more accessible, it becomes easier to implement lean manufacturing practices.

End-buyers are always online

The modern consumer turns to the internet as the ultimate source of knowledge for purchase decisions - as a result, a strong online presence is crucial for a manufacturer’s continued business success, whether in the world of B2B or B2C commerce. Just as knowledge of your shop floor is critical to making smart business decisions, so is knowledge of your customers. Having these front and back office insights aligned in a single place can help to cater to your customer base.

New Technology is More Powerful in Numbers

In a phenomenon known by some business leaders, including Boston Consulting Group, as “Industry 4.0,” implementation of the major new technologies facing manufacturers – specifically robotics, cloud computing, the industrial internet, system integration, simulation, augmented reality, additive manufacturing, and cybersecurity – are being coordinated to unlock their full potential. As a result, manufacturers will be able to coordinate, automate, and streamline their production flows across their supply chains and ultimately reduce the cost benefits of traditional low-cost manufacturing methods, bringing many previously offshored jobs back to the states.

“If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” may have worked fine 30 years ago, but with the rate that change is happening today, that approach is simply not going to cut it. Fast forward one year and think about what the manufacturing landscape might look like – if now is not the time to change, then when?

For more information, read the ebook Transforming Today’s Manufacturers: NetSuite Provides the Foundation for Success and download the data sheet explaining how NetSuite can help manufacturers react to these trends.

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