A recent survey by Oxford Economics turned up a startling result: a full 75% of executives interviewed believed that manufacturing would not be strongly affected by digital transformation.
It is true that the manufacturing industry has historically been a late adopter of new technologies. Everything we know of digital transformation, however, indicates that even if this is currently a viable business strategy, it won’t be for long. In fact, research suggests that about 40% of current manufacturing companies will find themselves in financial hot water due to digital disruption in just the next five years.
The good news, though, is that manufacturing’s slow adoption of technology means there’s still an opportunity to be the disrupter, rather than the disrupted. Instead of being left behind, organizations can currently leverage digital transformation to differentiate themselves from their competitors and put themselves ahead of the pack.
Here’s just a few examples of how a manufacturing company could implement digital transformation:
1. Better data storage, organization, and analysis
This is an important point of digital transformation in just about any industry, but manufacturing actually generates more data than any other sector of the economy. Tapping into that resource, then, could provide even more benefits for manufacturing companies than for just about any other business in terms of new insights and growth opportunities.
2. Connecting products across the life cycle
New technologies now available can allow manufacturers to keep all data on an individual product connected using what’s been referred to as a “digital thread,” tracking physical assets from R&D all the way to sales.
3. Developing more efficient factories
Data analytics, condition monitoring, and predictive maintenance will allow manufacturers to find exactly where slowdowns in production occur—even before they happen, in some cases—and use this information to optimize production efficiency. Digital transformation can completely revolutionize factories in other ways as well. For instance, some pharmaceutical manufacturers have managed to use new technologies to create incredibly small portable factories spanning less than 40 square feet.
The possibilities for digital transformation are just as endless for manufacturing as they are for any other sector—and while manufacturing may currently be lagging behind, it’s just as imperative that manufacturers modernize if they want to survive the coming years.