A New Model for Manufacturing Innovation

by Werner Krings

The Austrian Economist Joseph Schumpeter argued that industries must incessantly revolutionize their economic structure from within. I interpret this statement to mean that manufacturers, especially in the High Tech industry, must continually strive to innovate with better or more effective processes in order to build new products.

Innovation is a core attribute of successful High Tech manufacturers, impacting every aspect of the business–economics, business profitability, product design, technology, and engineering best-practices, not to mention overall brand value.
Innovation impacts growth

Manufacturing innovation can mean the use Lean and other cost reduction strategies. Increasingly, it means automation and digitization of manufacturing as we move toward the era of the Digital Factory and big data analytics. And, In today’s global landscape, innovation must include the ability to easily replicate processes across sites to ensure higher global quality standards and greater control, visibility and synchronization across operations.

How do you get there?

A key requirement for global innovation is a unified production environment across facilities. High Tech manufacturers that use different processes and production systems in their various facilities will have difficulty achieving innovation– effectively blocking all of the potential benefits. When different plants use different MES systems, for example, there can be little agility, as every change becomes a custom IT project.

Improve operations processes across sites

This is why High Tech manufacturing leaders have moved toward unified and standardized systems, so that process changes and manufacturing agility can be achieved faster and more easily. In such an environment, global shop floor operations can be unified through a Center of Excellence, which can then ensure comparable and measurable manufacturing standards on a global scale. As they say, you can’t improve what you can’t measure.

Measuring Innovation

Innovation can (and should) be measured on an organizational level. The implementation of manufacturing intelligence solutions is often justified by this single function, as part of a manufacturer’s quest to achieve better visibility across operations. The ability to measure is greatly enhanced when it is part of an overall innovation strategy, underpinned by unified technology.

High Tech manufacturers will want to measure several aspects of innovation, such as business measures related to profitability, innovation process efficiency, or employees’ contribution and motivation. Measured values might include new product revenue, spending in R&D, time to market, quality scores for suppliers, and growth in emerging markets.

Manufacturing Innovation

What is pivotal is that innovation must align with corporate strategy and global manufacturing performance in order to ensure continuous growth and return on investment. A well-defined innovation program, combined with an IT infrastructure that supports global agility, is essential for High Tech manufacturers that want to compete and grow in a sustainable fashion, now and in the future.

Now there’s a solution for greater visibility, control, and synchronization of operations. Visit the Flexible Production solution page and read the flyer to find out what a flexible global production platform for manufacturing can do for your High Tech enterprise.