The Future of Manufacturing and How to Be Ready, Part III

For the past few weeks, we’ve worked through the definition of smart manufacturing, its potential to radically change our industry, and common traits of manufacturers who are ready to adopt smarter systems. This week, we’ll discuss Larry Korak’s 5 steps for starting your expedition into the world of Industry 4.0.

As we said before, there is no conclusive checklist of tools that must be incorporated in order for one’s company to be considered a smart manufacturer. Some companies will need to deploy many forms of new tech while others will be able to use only two or three disruptive technologies to maintain a strong market position. With  that in mind, here are Korak’s suggested stepping stones to get involved in the world of smart manufacturing, however you choose to jump in:

  1. Develop a basic strategy and set clear goals. Think about your business and what you want to achieve. Not only that, think about why you want to achieve those particular goals. Be specific and realistic so that the next steps do not require further breaking down. Make sure you keep customer satisfaction in the forefront of your mind as you build your strategy.
  2. Utilize the expertise of those around you and build a diverse team. By putting together a group of people whose wealth of knowledge differ, your strategic roadmap will be significantly more sturdy and efficient. However, try to avoid too-many-cooks syndrome by appointing an executive decision maker. Don’t be afraid to include skeptics in your circle; the difference of opinion can often lead to new insight.
  3. Enhance your market prospects. Do research on your target market to better understand each step of the buying process from their perspective. Don’t be afraid to look into other demographics if you find that your original data doesn’t reach your standards. Find ways to make opportunities if they can’t be found.
  4. Set your plan in motion gradually. Korak suggests using a model often utilized by successful companies: “Use a phased approach to deployment of major initiatives… [this] provides you with early wins and chances to refine your strategies over time.” Start with the basics and with tech that can be used across several applications so that you can get a better picture of what the tech is capable of.
  5. Assess and perfect. Understand that implementing new systems will rarely be flawless the first time. Set steps for your progress and make your goal continuous improvement. Celebrate successes and continue to raise the bar as your expertise grows.

Change is daunting and taking risks for the sake of your business can often be an entirely new level of apprehension. By breaking down the process and keeping things simple, orderly, and open-minded, you can ease your way into the world of smart manufacturing faster and more easily than you’d think. Get excited for the future and start exploring!


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