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Manufacturing 4.0: Is US Industry Lagging Behind?

At the 2019 Manufacturing Leadership Summit in June, John Fleming, chairman of the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Board of Governors and former executive vice president of global manufacturing and labor affairs for Ford Motor Co., answered a critical question for manufacturing executives:
Is US industry lagging behind in its adoption of Manufacturing 4.0?

"It probably is," said Fleming during his on-screen speech at the ML Summit. "But there's still a huge opportunity ahead for US industry, and now is the time to accelerate its efforts."

John Fleming, Manufacturing Leadership Council

Industry predictions suggest that around US$220 billion will be spent globally by industrial companies on adopting Manufacturing 4.0 technologies and approaches by 2025, notes the Manufacturing Leadership Council's recent blog post. The National Association of Manufacturers' Manufacturing Leadership Council is the world's first member-driven, global business leadership network dedicated to senior executives in the manufacturing industry.

Taking a global perspective, Fleming identified Germany as currently leading the global M4.0 pack, having first coined the Industry 4.0 name back in 2011 to highlight the concept of the digital industrial revolution. Japan and the rest of Europe he considers as "fast followers"; while he believes China is swiftly catching up thanks to its government-led initiatives such as China 2025.

Meanwhile, the US has good federal funding but is slow at implementation, and while the federal network of manufacturing innovation institutes look at the what and why, US companies now need to focus on the how, who, and when. Those companies need to be willing to learn about and embrace new M4.0 technologies, develop the organizational structures and corporate cultures that are capable of harnessing the power of the data these technologies create, and nurture a spirit of digital acumen among both its leaders and employees to help drive efficiencies, accelerate innovation, fill the workforce gap, and deliver global competitive advantage.

Five Critical Areas
The global manufacturing industry is at a pivotal point in its history, according to the Manufacturing Leadership Council. Driven by competitive pressures to become more agile, innovative, and cost effective, and a surge in the use of advanced digital and analytical technologies, large and small manufacturing companies around the world are now pursuing a future vision for their businesses that will transform the rules of competition, how work will be performed, how companies will be organized, and how leadership must lead. The MLC term this future state Manufacturing 4.0. The organization's website outlines the following five Critical Issues for 2018/2019, with key areas of focus:

Factories of the Future: Large and small manufacturers, in both process and discrete manufacturing, need to understand and embrace the potential of new and evolving production models, materials, and technologies along the journey towards Manufacturing 4.0 to help them create more cost efficient, responsive, flexible, transparent, connected, automated, and sustainable factories, production models, and new business models for the future. Areas of Focus include:

• M4.0 roadmaps, maturity models, and transformation frameworks to help companies move along their journey to Manufacturing 4.0.
• End-to-end digitization and analysis of manufacturing and engineering processes and functions in both centralized and distributed production networks.
• Manufacturing cybersecurity risk management including preventative measures and cyber attack response strategies, for both large and small companies.

M4.0 Cultures: Collaborative, Innovative, and Integrated: To maximize and harness the potential of Manufacturing 4.0, manufacturers of all sizes need to actively transform traditional operational cultures to create more collaborative, innovation-driven, cross-functional, and integrated enterprise cultures to drive growth, new product and service development, operational efficiencies, and competitive success in the world of Manufacturing 4.0. Areas of Focus include:

• Cross-functional processes and integrated organizational structures that harness multiple sources of data and expertise to drive both continuous and disruptive innovation, make faster and better decisions, reduce time to market, and enhance competitive agility.
• Collaborative innovation cultures and platforms that leverage the ideas and development resources of employees, suppliers, external partners, customers, academia, and 'the crowd' to create new products, improve business processes, and create innovative new business models.
• Best practice approaches, and the challenges involved, in deploying integrated Manufacturing 4.0 technologies and platforms that enhance collaboration, integration, and innovation.

Transformative Technologies in Manufacturing: Manufacturers must learn how to identify, adopt, value-proof, and scale the most promising M4.0-enabling technologies in order to achieve greater speed, agility, efficiency, and competitiveness and to drive innovative new business models and improve customer experiences. Areas of Focus are:

• The impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive analytics on the future of manufacturing.
• The latest developments in other transformational technologies including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D printing, modeling and simulation, collaborative robotics, augmented and virtual realities, 5G networks, blockchain, and other emerging technologies.
• Best practice business case approaches for selecting, cost justifying, and deploying disruptive new M4.0 technologies in a manufacturing enterprise, while encouraging and implementing standards and architectures that support open, interoperable systems.

Next-Generation Manufacturing Leadership and the Changing Workforce:
Manufacturing 4.0 requires manufacturing leaders and their teams to be more collaborative, innovative, and responsive to disruptive change. Leaders must embrace new behaviors, structures, cultures, value systems, and strategies, and develop more effective ways of identifying, attracting, developing, retaining, and engaging the talent and skills of both the current workforce and the next generation of employees. Areas of Focus are:

• Effective leadership role models, behaviors, and mindsets that best support the company's journey to Manufacturing 4.0.
• Employee transition, development, and engagement strategies for an inclusive, diverse, multi-generational, multi-cultural, multinational workforce.
• Identifying, attracting, and encouraging next-generation talent and skills for tomorrow's manufacturing workforce, including adopting new working cultures and changing ethical value systems, and by developing more effective ways to collaborate with educational and community organizations.

Manufacturing 4.0 Sustainability: Manufacturing 4.0 technologies provide all companies, large and small, with the opportunity to leverage new analytical insights and more flexible production platforms to maximize the use of resources, achieve major efficiency gains, drive revenue growth, and minimize environmental impacts. Successful engagement with customers, suppliers, partners, and the next-generation workforce also requires manufacturers to become increasingly transparent about their environmental and socially-responsible practices. Areas of Focus include:

• Design products for easier reuse, remanufacture, refurbishment, or recycling at end of life.
• Manufacturing 4.0 production strategies that streamline production processes to increase efficiency, reduce costs and waste, and ensure all resources, products, components, energy, and materials are kept at their highest utility and value at all times.
• Holistic, sustainable manufacturing business models, supported by collaborative cross-sector partnerships and deeper community engagement, that help create a more regenerative, industry-wide, M4.0-driven, cost-effective, circular manufacturing economy.

"It will be very difficult for the US to grow competitively in the future without increasing the speed of M4.0 adoption," warned Fleming. "The M4.0 opportunity is now, but we need to move quickly."

Learn more about the The National Association of Manufacturers' Manufacturing Leadership Council at www.manufacturingleadershipcouncil.com.

 

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