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The Smart Manufacturing Revolution is Upon Us

By Jeff Schmitz | 08/14/2017 | 7:18 AM

In today’s on-demand retail landscape, manufacturers are undergoing massive changes to meet customers' ever-increasing expectations. It’s the new reality manufacturers face and those that don’t integrate automation and smart technologies over the next few years risk becoming irrelevant.

According to Zebra’s recently released Manufacturing Vision Study, nearly two-thirds of manufacturers are embracing smart technologies to achieve a fully connected factory by 2022. Despite this shift, only 43 percent of manufacturers embrace smart technologies today. For example, 62 percent use pen and paper to track vital manufacturing steps, putting companies at risk for error. Ultimately, this number is expected to drop to one in five by 2022.

The move toward smart technologies, sometimes referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), enables real-time visibility and decision making across the supply chain.  

At the heart of IIoT is the way companies capture and share data. The ability to have data immediately available in the cloud offers unheard-of visibility that heightens operational performance. However, few manufacturers are harnessing the power of their data. Zebra’s study found only 27 percent are currently collecting data from production, supply chain and workers.

Having instant access to data is essential to making real-time adjustments that ensure that the production process operates smoothly. It gives suppliers the ability to react to the changing needs of their customers while also keeping less inventory on hand and eliminating points of failure. In fact, 50 percent of manufacturers stated that improving their ability to adjust to fluctuating market demands is one of their top business growth strategies.

In addition to data, the shift toward a more automated environment is also putting technologies like voice solutions and RFID at the forefront. According to Zebra’s study, 51 percent of manufacturers are planning to expand the use of voice technology in the next five years, while 60 percent will expand the use of real-time location tracking to drive greater visibility and growth across their operations.

The smart factory of the future will be here before we know it. Now is the time for manufacturers to start integrating visibility solutions into the plant floor to increase quality, expedite production and reduce costs.



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The opinions expressed herein are those solely of the participants, and do not necessarily represent the views of Agile Business Media, LLC., its properties or its employees.

About Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz

Jeff Schmitz is senior vice president and chief marketing officer at Zebra. Mr. Schmitz most recently served as executive vice president for multiple business units and sales at Spirent Communications where he had previously also held several senior leadership roles including chief marketing officer and vice president of networks & applications. Prior to joining Spirent, Mr. Schmitz held senior marketing positions at Rivulet Communications, Visual Networks and Tellabs Inc. Mr. Schmitz holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Marquette University and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the Illinois Institute of Technology.


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