Machine manufacturers today face a volatile market environment, pressuring them to adopt new approaches for developing next generation products. As always, there are the ever-present pressures of quality, cost, and performance.
At the same time, sustainability requirements are now front and centre. The focus is on lowering energy usage, reducing carbon, and minimising scrap and waste.
In addition, larger global trends are impacting manufacturers around the world, while social-political shifts are also leading to changes in business models – including reshoring, servitisation, and new market entrants. They also see opportunities in emerging areas, moving from well-established domains into adjacent or new markets.
For example, paper machine manufacturers are expanding into battery machine manufacturing to meet the sharp rise in demand for electric vehicles, the same can be said for machine builders in the glass industry.
However, workforce shortages – both for machine builders and manufacturing operations – are increasing the need for automation. The factory of the future is now developing around the paradigms of sustainability, flexibility, and the future workforce.
Advances in technology are providing opportunities for manufacturers to thrive, despite the industry's myriad of challenges. These new capabilities are made possible by the greater intelligence and wealth of data generated by digitalization, which integrates digital tools, systems, and IoT data, connecting previously siloed information across design, engineering, production, and service.
With digitalization, manufacturers can move beyond automation to more predictive and adaptive production environments. Adaptive manufacturing delivers the flexibility to enable effortless switching of production with changing market and customer needs. Moreover, it simplifies the workflow systems so manufacturers can do more with the same workforce.