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As director of a manufacturer, what should be on your mind?

On the basis of interviews with over 100 manufacturing SME’s in Slovenia, Belgium and the Netherlands during 2017 and 2018, the ADMA Initiative has identified 10 key challenges of manufacturing SMEs. The results show a great need for advanced manufacturing support around five key topics:

In relation to attracting and developing talent, enterprises stress the importance of ensuring the right level of qualification of the workforce in order to operate advanced manufacturing plants & having relevant (expert) knowledge to continuously develop the technology base. Secondly under this topic, enterprises seek smart connections of employees with technological applications (eg. Sensor-steered or via smart glasses, phones or in other ways automated).

Another overall topic concerns the changing of mindset. Enterprises point to two pressures in this regard. One is how to create resource and time during a stressful day-day to operation where the focus remains on meeting production targets. The other is how to stimulate the willingness of employees to take on a new digitalised and automated way of working.

This brings us to a third topic which concerns getting new concepts right first time. Enterprises cannot afford to work long on new manufacturing concepts and then not get it right. They have to get it right first time, which means they use design thinking, quick prototypes, simulations and validations to fail before heavy investments and only invest in validated, proof of business concepts.

When it comes to entering the digital age, manufacturing enterprises see two critical challenges. The first is how to develop a clear strategy for creating value added from the machine data obtained from the shop floor. The second is to create value-added for employees on the shop floor in terms of real-time information. This obviously requires the combination of customer order and needs data with stock and process data while integrating it with shop floor progress data – all in real time.

The final topic raised by the manufacturing enterprises concerns the creation of new and sustainable business opportunities.  Enterprises see in particular three challenges: How to develop and introduce servitization opportunities that add value to clients over and above the physical products offered? In terms of addressing environmental constraints, manufacturing enterprises see opportunities in creating stronger synergies through eco-systems with their supply chains. Similarly, they intend to create new value and competitiveness from sustainable and more resource efficient processes, products and business models.

Next to these 5 key topics, the SME leaders articulated a clear need for practical use cases and best practices.

ADMA is addressing all these challenges and needs in cooperation with its network of supporting partners. Very concretely, ADMA offers enterprises the opportunity to map their maturity in relation to how advanced their manufacturing set-up is and will be helping 60 ambitious European enterprises to develop plans to dramatically advance their manufacturing performance. To map the maturity of your enterprise, please click here.   

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