It seems that every piece of marketing material out there is chock full of new terminology like "IIoT", "Manufacturing 4.0", and digitizing the factory floor.
What does all this new terminology mean? Small manufacturing firms can be under resourced and overstretched just to get product out the door, let alone trying to understand what all this terminology means, let alone trying to bring that onto their shop floor. Some get the value of bringing new technology down to the floor, but they don't have the time to understand why it's important, or how they could use digital technology to lower costs, improve time to market and increase quality.
Think about it. Digital technology has made it's way into every corner of society, right into our very homes. But the factory floor? Many struggle to keep up with the information required to keep operators aware of the product they're making, and how to execute the process steps necessary to build that quality product.
The problem is, digital manufacturing is rapidly becoming a competitive edge for some firms. They can see what's coming, and think digital from product design right through production and their place in a supply chain.
Younger managers have been brought up in a more digital age, so the thinking is natural, but they may not yet have the authority to bring it onto the manufacturing floor.
Both the cost and deployment time to bring this technology into the mainstream of operations is coming down quickly. The winners in the competitive battle will adopt these new approaches with gusto, and learn how to leverage them. Don't get caught by a competitor who's made the leap. Even if you're small.