Factories are typically thought of as dark places with people standing on an assembly line working side by side with machines, doing the same thing over and over again. But, that “vision” of the traditional factory has changed thanks largely to the influx of technological advances in how factories operate.
Technology driven factories are cropping up all around the globe in both established and developing countries. Many countries are recognizing the opportunity for change and investing heavily by offering grants and other benefits to help to implement these technology changes.
The EU for example is investing almost 2 Billion Euros into their private/public partnership “Factories of the Future” to encourage manufacturers to take advantage of new technology to improve their factories and to become more efficient, green and profitable. It is not just the EU that is offering a great deal of incentives for manufacturers to switch their operations over to something that looks a little bit like a “great idea”. Even developing countries are offering incentive packages to lure manufacturers to their countries.
Smart manufacturing offers a bevy of benefits and will eventually become the way that every organization creates their products.
The Labor Force
Naysayers like to point out all the workers that will lose their jobs, however, the fact is that these factories actually create indirect jobs. Who really wants to stand in less than ideal conditions all day long at an assembly line anyway?
Luckily one of the reasons that these types of manufacturers are going to be successful is because they will promote job opportunities that will greatly outnumber the jobs currently available with traditional factories.
Studies indicate that the number of indirect jobs that will be needed to support manufacturing in smart factories may actually triple or quadruple in quantity. Indirect jobs will be a necessity for these types of factories to function.
When computers were first introduced for public/private use, naysayers then said that they would put people out of work and businesses would become completely automated. Similar to that era, the “factory worker” will still be very much part of the process just in a different capacity.
There will always be critics that will predict the worst case scenario, but the reality can be very different then the prediction. Smart factories do not put people out of jobs, it just means that people will have a different role in the process.
Smart factories are hailed as the wave of the future now because they can reduce the negative effects that manufacturing has on the environment. Since concern has turned to the environment in the last couple of decades, manufacturers have received the brunt of the criticism for creating an environment that is slowly turning hostile to humanity.
The smart factories utilize reusable packaging options and other methods that greatly reduce the impact on the environment. Reducing the effects on the environment can include:
- Reduction in greenhouse gases that have a negative impact on the environment
- More efficient use of natural resources
- Improved waste control measures to reduce environmental damage
As more consumers become aware of environmental issues more consumers are demanding change and looking to manufacturers to change how they do business. In response to consumer demand more manufacturers will look to smart factories as a solution.
This movement has even generated its own nickname. The movement to use technology to improve production has adopted the name of Industry 4.0 because it’s the improved way to develop and manufacture all goods.
Since the emergence of Industry 4.0, more and more manufacturers have adopted the practice of utilizing technology that can greatly improve their productivity at a lower cost. Industry 4.0 will change the way manufacturers create goods. You can expect that 4.0 initiatives will:
- Look to “closed lifecycle loops” where there is ZERO waste
- A concerted effort to use only sustainable materials
- A drastic reduction in overall costs which may be passed on to the end user
Tax Breaks, Government Compliance and Sheer Profits
Smart factories will grow in 2016 because they are simply a more viable option. Governments help manufacturers with their bottom line by offering deep tax breaks. As government regulations become harder and harder to comply with via the use of traditional methods, more and more businesses will opt to choose a method that makes compliance both easier and more cost effective.
This movement is set to really grow by leaps and bounds. As more governments get on board with the idea that it is time for a change and they offer bigger and better tax breaks to entice manufacturers you will see a tremendous change in manufacturing. Manufacturers not only save money thanks to all the incentives but they are able to increase their positive cash flow.
The People Want It
It is not only the government that is making it easy to make the choice to covert. Consumers will be more likely to seek out brands that are using smart factories as their point of origination. It will get to the point in the near future where consumers will avoid products that are crafted in traditional factories.
If you give consumers a choice they will choose the products that are coming from a factory that causes less impact on the environment. But, consumers are thrifty as well – they do not want to pay extra for such products.
Increased profits, improved reputation, reduced taxes and greater job creation all together sounds an awful lot a recipe for success. The question is not “why” these type of factories will enjoy growth in 2016, but more “how could they not?”
Smart manufacturing has all the components of a successful enterprise. More correctly we should be wondering why there will be any traditional, environmentally offensive factories remaining.
If we have the solution to reduce impact on the environment and create more jobs should we not require that manufacturers take the option?
The growth of these factories will be very difficult to keep up with in 2016 and beyond. They are the solution to so many problems.
If you liked this article, here are others you might also find interesting:
- 5 Predictions on the Evolution to the Smart Manufacturing Enterprise
- Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution!
- The Post-Fourth Industrial Revolution World – Part 2