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Critical Issues 2017/2018

The Manufacturing Leadership Council's annual Critical Issues Agenda reflects a unique member-driven process that identifies the most urgent and important issues facing the global manufacturing industry in the year ahead. The Critical Issues also drive the Manufacturing Leadership Council's strategic plan for the next twelve months, directly influencing all major elements of its content, research, events, and services portfolio.

The Journey to Manufacturing 4.0

The global manufacturing industry is at a pivotal point in its history.

Driven by competitive pressures to become more agile, innovative, and cost effective, and a surge in the use of advanced digital and analytical technologies, manufacturing companies around the world are now pursuing a future vision for their businesses that will transform the rules of competition, how work will be performed, how companies will be organized, and how leadership must lead.

We term this future state: Manufacturing 4.0.

The vision for Manufacturing 4.0 is a state in which production and supply networks are increasingly automated, modular, data-driven, agile, predictive, and rapidly reconfigurable to meet changing demands and competition. Products are smart, customized, connected, self-diagnosing, and provide a rich platform for new service revenue streams. Supply chains are visible, traceable, risk-resilient, responsive, and constantly analyzed in real-time. Enterprises are cross-functional, collaborative, and highly integrated, often around a single digital thread that stretches from design to deployment. And leaders and employees are highly engaged, digitally-savvy, customer-centric, continually innovative, and ready to adapt to new challenges and grasp new business opportunities.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council's Critical Issues Agenda is designed to help manufacturers align their thinking and practices for a successful journey to Manufacturing 4.0.


Factories of the Future

Description:

Large and small manufacturers, in both process and discrete manufacturing, need to understand and embrace the potential of new and evolving production models, materials, and technologies along the journey towards Manufacturing 4.0 to help them create more cost efficient, responsive, flexible, transparent, connected, automated, and sustainable factories and production models for the future.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • Migration paths, road maps, maturity models, and frameworks to help companies move along their journey to Manufacturing 4.0, from current production models to a future state.
  • End-to-end digitization and analysis of manufacturing and engineering processes and functions.
  • Front line examples of agile and modular production models that deliver on the promise of Manufacturing 4.0.

The Collaborative Manufacturing Enterprise

Description:

To maximize the potential of Manufacturing 4.0, manufacturers of all sizes need to actively transform traditional, inhibitive functional silos to create more collaborative, cross-functional, and integrated enterprise structures, both within and beyond their organizations. These structures, supported by new collaborative processes and digital thread technologies, stretch across the value chain and improve decisions in multiple activities, from ideation to product end of use.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • How manufacturing fits into collaborative, end-to-end, enterprise-wide value chains that unify the company's overall mission and key activities.
  • Digital threads that constantly connect and inform all functions of the enterprise.
  • Cross-functional processes and organizational structures that harness multiple areas of expertise to make faster and better decisions, reduce time to market, and enhance competitive agility.

Manufacturing Enterprise Innovation

Description:

Manufacturers must successfully develop and manage rapid, continuous, collaborative, and often disruptive innovation processes across the enterprise to drive growth, new products and services, operational efficiencies, and competitive success in the world of Manufacturing 4.0.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • Best practice approaches that focus on how, why, and where Manufacturing 4.0 technologies can help change the process of innovation to help manufacturers deliver innovative ideas and improvements faster than ever before across the enterprise – from the plant floor, to the supply chain, to new products and services.
  • Collaborative innovation approaches that leverage the ideas and development resources of employees, suppliers, external partners, customers, academia, and 'the crowd' to create new products and improve business processes.
  • How manufacturing can play an active role in product and business model innovation to ultimately deliver both competitive advantage and enhanced customer experience.

Transformative Technologies in Manufacturing

Description:

Manufacturers must learn how to identify, adopt, and scale the most promising M4.0-enabling technologies in order to achieve greater speed, agility, efficiency, and competitiveness and to drive innovative new business models and better customer experiences.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • The latest developments in the Internet of Things, 3D printing, advanced analytics, modelling and simulation, AI & machine learning, collaborative robotics, augmented and virtual realities, and other emerging new technologies.
  • Best practice approaches for selecting, cost justifying, and deploying disruptive new M4.0 technologies in a manufacturing enterprise.
  • Strategies for encouraging and implementing standards and architectures that support open, interoperable systems.

Next-Generation Manufacturing Leadership & the Changing Workforce

Description:

Manufacturing 4.0 requires manufacturing leaders and their teams to be more collaborative, innovative, and responsive to disruptive change. That means leaders must embrace new behaviors, structures, and strategies, and develop more effective ways of identifying, attracting, developing, retaining, and engaging the talent and skills of both the current workforce and the next generation of employees.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • Effective leadership role models, behaviors, and mindsets that best support the company's journey to Manufacturing 4.0.
  • Employee transition, development, and engagement strategies for a multi-generational, multi-cultural, multinational workforce.
  • Identifying, attracting, and encouraging new talent and skills for tomorrow's manufacturing workforce, including best practices for collaborating with educational and community organizations.

Cybersecurity in Manufacturing

Description:

As factory floors, supply chains, and products become increasingly connected in an M4.0 world, manufacturing companies face rising vulnerability to external cyber threats and potential internal disruption. They must now identify the most effective cybersecurity processes and technologies and create a more resilient working culture that will ensure operational continuity, data security, and IP protection.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • Potential points of cyber vulnerability and prevention to help secure manufacturing operations, IoT networks, smart products, and the supply chain.
  • Bridging the gap between IT and Operations to coordinate and improve manufacturing enterprise cybersecurity strategies.
  • Cybersecurity best practice policies, training, behaviors and education, including an understanding of the global cybersecurity regulatory environment.

Manufacturing 4.0 Sustainability

Description:

Manufacturing 4.0 technologies provide companies, large and small, with the opportunity to leverage new analytical insights and more flexible production platforms to maximize the use of resources, achieve major efficiency gains, and minimize environmental impacts. Successful engagement with customers, partners and the next-generation workforce also requires manufacturers to become increasingly transparent about their environmental and socially-responsible practices.

Specific Areas of Focus for 2017/2018

  • Design products for easier reuse, remanufacture, refurbishment, or recycling at end of life.
  • Manufacturing 4.0 production strategies that streamline production processes to increase efficiency, reduce costs and waste, and ensure all resources, products, components, energy, and materials are kept at their highest utility and value at all times.
  • Holistic, sustainable manufacturing business models, supported by collaborative cross-sector partnerships and deeper community engagement, that help create a more regenerative, industry-wide, M4.0-driven, cost-effective, circular manufacturing economy.