Judging by the headlines, continuous logistics issues, continued pandemic restrictions, and rising prices for raw materials will mean that manufacturers have their work cut out for 2022. In addition, the drive towards sustainability is adding pressure to readjust the manufacturing footprint. Most manufacturers are still stuck with a geographic footprint, which was driven by labor arbitrage around the globe, rather than by factors such as closeness to customers or ecological concerns.
To increase efficiency, many producers have started to implement Industry 4.0 technologies. Industry 4.0 came with the promise of a smart factory being profitable at the production lot size of one unit. The concept was introduced at the brink of the millennium change with the introduction of cyber-physical systems to share, analyze and guide intelligent actions for various processes in the industry to make the machines smarter and to lower downtime. Analytics can also be used for other aspects like logistics, demand forecasts, production scheduling and quality control, capacity utilization and efficiency boosting.
But we still stand at the beginning for leveraging the true potential of Industry 4.0. Smart technologies offer no less than the possibility to redesign the global manufacturing footprint, to position factories closer to markets, reduce logistics nightmares and increase visibility of the ecosystem partners, including suppliers and customers.