Saturday, April 13, 2024

Factory of the future? What does that actually mean?

Rene Rose

The days of regimented systems and an outdated factory floor are over, giving rise to a more flexible and innovative way of manufacturing.

By Positiv Pty Ltd Australia Director Rene Rose. 

This shift was a long time coming before anyone had even heard of Covid-19, but the pandemic certainly helped to accelerate calls for transformation in the industrial sector.

Covid-19 exposed vulnerabilities within the manufacturing space on a global scale, most of which need to be addressed and re-deployed in a short timeframe.

The way in which the majority of factories had been set up prior to the pandemic, meant that they were simply not equipped to deal with the added requirements of a post-pandemic world.

Future factories will need to embrace the daunting tasks of ramping up and competing globally and locally whilst dealing with the additional challenges of managing labour and getting to grips with new safety protocols. This, all while implementing social distancing and navigating significant changes in operational performance.

Digital transformation or ‘Industry 4.0’ does play a part in this. The quickest way to start operating in the new era of manufacturing is to retrofit your factory with modern technology. This can solve operational issues not only in terms of health and hygiene requirements but also create the flexibility which has become so critical to manufacturing.

It would be wise to choose technology which is adaptable and allows for quick changeovers. Your operations should be able to cope with future changing demands with minimal interference and limited capital outlay. This is the time to future-proof your business

The need for flexibility in manufacturing cannot be overstated enough, as we collectively navigate the changing needs of customers who are themselves adapting to the new normal.

Reshoring the future

Another manufacturing vulnerability exposed by Covid-19 were the gaps in the global supply chain, with ports and airports going dark as entire countries went into lockdown. This disruption has led to growing calls for ‘reshoring’ manufacturing – manufacturing locally.

We’ve noticed a definite trend of Australian organisations embracing the idea of ‘owning’ your manufacturing destiny. Reshoring enables more flexibility and control of the supply chain and gives companies (and countries) the control to manage economic supply and demand.

Additional benefits of reshoring future factories include:

  • A lower total cost of ownership (TCO).
  • A controlled local supply chain.
  • A better eye over the quality of goods.
  • Quicker deliveries and turnarounds.

While there are additional challenges (most notably increased labour costs) in reshoring manufacturing, recent consumer research indicates that Future Factories that take this approach can expect a positive reception from Australian consumers. Research company Roy Morgan found that nine in ten (89%) Australians believe Australia should be producing more products locally following the Covid-19 pandemic.

In closing, we’re in uncharted territory but a few things are clear: the new normal factory floor must be made safe, more resilient and more adaptable to change as competition intensifies in a post-Covid world.

Future factories cannot afford to make the same mistakes as their predecessors.


Waking a sleeping giant

About Rene Rose and Positiv

With a fistful of experience gained in the advertising and marketing sector, Rene landed a job as a marketing manager at a multinational gear drive solution company. It didn’t seem like the dream job, but it became the love of her life. She worked her way up the ranks and in 2015 started her own company, Positiv, specialising in marketing for the manufacturing sector. Positiv takes care of large multinationals and local manufacturers.

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