Why? In the current technological and political landscape, an optimistic yet cautious approach is the most considered choice for many companies.

 

The 2020 Predictions

When you pick up various magazines or research reports, you quickly get the suspicion that most companies are already in the fourth industrial revolution. One report predicted that “Digital Disruption” in 2020 would replace 40% of the established industries.

But nothing is less true. Often, marketing stories have been written so far to impress the competition. The number of companies that actually work with the latest Big Data, AI, Robotics, and Cloud solutions is surprisingly low.

Do not get me wrong, I am a big enthusiast and interested about these latest techniques. I certainly believe that the new generation of production techniques is coming off the industry like a tornado. Robotisation will definitely have a huge impact on our work, but that depends entirely on how we will open up the right use cases for this.

When we look at the manufacturing industry, a robust and incredibly dynamic collection of various services makes it understandable that the attitude here is a lot more pragmatic than most reports believe.

Although manufacturing companies can vary considerably in size, processes, and customers, they all share certain characteristics, such as increasingly complex supply chains, using means of production that last for decades before they are replaced, and the real internal need to prevent production downtime at any cost.

 In my view, the manufacturing industry is all about WHAT you do, not necessarily how — or how beautifully — it is done; it does not make it any more important, if it only achieves the desired results in the short and longer term. — Luke van Enkhuizen

We want to turn the companies into real smart factories. Then there are countless bits in this puzzle that require a lot of strategic thinking. This is due to the low volume and high complexity. If an idea is too theoretical, it is understandable that it is often not immediately welcome.

The Innovation Gap

There is a big gap, an innovation gap, between the theoretical predictions and the people who actually work on the work floor.

Experts who do not work every day in industrial environments — from policymakers to academics to consultants — will probably never fully understand the complexity of the challenge that may arise when manufacturers switch to digital.

Until recently, the leaders working in information technology (IT), production, and actual operational production functioned almost separately. This is particularly noticeable with the larger machine builders who sometimes add many new features to software products, while the main functions remain behind.

The result is that even today there are few specialists who have both the technical expertise and the necessary IT skills. As long as we cannot close this bridge, the manufacturing industry will not be able to move forward with the new innovations.

More Than Technology

The technological component in innovation is no longer the most complex to solve. Software development is becoming more and more accessible to every company to make use of this. Investigations are increasingly shared between universities and industry. All these specialists need the right feedback from the shop floor.

In my view, the manufacturing industry is all about WHAT you do, not necessarily how — or how beautifully — it is done; it does not make it any more important, if it only achieves the desired results in the short and longer term.

The art is to keep focus on improving the flow. That we design our new processes on what the customers really want and not get distracted by what the marketing reports write.

The manufacturing industry really only gets further when we work together. As soon as we learn from each other, help our suppliers and customers, and continue to assess to what extent we are progressing, a golden future awaits us.

What is your opinion? Leave a comment or LIKE this post, I would really appreciate it! — Luke