Manufacturing Outlook… Let’s talk smart manufacturing


ASQ recently issued a Manufacturing Outlook survey and through their latest View from the Q  question if the results are consistent with what quality professionals see in the workplace.

I’m not so sure I’m interested in talking about the results being consistent in the workplace, other than to say how excited I am about the smart manufacturing component.  As for the rest of it, OK manufacturers are still worried about the economy.  Who wouldn’t be? Recovery takes time, even longer than the economic indicators say.   Job growth is always a good thing.  It’s good that people are getting raises, 49% in fact.

But, smart manufacturing…

“According to the results, only 13 percent of those surveyed said they use smart manufacturing within their organization. Of those organizations that claim to have implemented smart manufacturing, 82 percent say they have experienced increased efficiency, 49 percent experienced fewer product defects and 45 percent experienced increased customer satisfaction.”

Think about this.  There is an overwhelming successful result when using smart manufacturing, but only 13% of the organizations are doing it.


“The results show that 37 percent of those surveyed have no interest in smart manufacturing, while 29 percent say cost is the biggest challenge. In addition, 14 percent said resistance from management is the biggest hurdle when considering a smart manufacturing system.”

We may have a marketing problem here, or as some of us like to think of it, a marketing opportunity.  I have to assume that those 37% not interested simply just aren’t aware of the benefits.  There are obvious misconceptions out there as well, so some repositioning would certainly help with that much needed buy-in.

Survey anyone about almost anything and a percentage will say cost is a consideration.  Sell the benefits of smart manufacturing and cost isn’t going to matter because it’s the long-term gain that shines.  It’s the customer value that matters.  The data supports this.  It sells itself with the right message.

As for that 14% of management that continues to resist change, train them so that they feel comfortable and consistently communicate the benefits.  Smart manufacturing isn’t easy, and it must have management support to even work at all.

This Manufacturing Outlook supports the idea of a future where technology and automation revolutionize the global economy. This article in WSJ is quite convincing as well… and, this one.

But, it isn’t about us being able to make all of our stuff here again, or eliminating jobs.  It’s about reaching that level of excellence in consistency and quality.  It’s about being about as lean as you can be and passing that value onto the consumer.  It’s larger than a job.  It’s larger than a product.  It’s progress.  It’s art, in some weird artistic form.  It just needs to be marketed that way.


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