We caught up with John Schelhaas, Director Supply Chain and RD&I at AkzoNobel, and Chairman of Manufacturing Leaders Forum 2016. He shared his thoughts on Industry 4.0 and the future of manufacturing.
After MLF16 it’s impossible not to mention innovation and all things digital. Industry 4.0 was a hot topic up for discussion this year. Manufacturers need to utilise the new technologies that Industry 4.0 encompasses to make year-on-year cost, output and efficiency improvements. In order to strive for manufacturing excellence and speed up processes, we need to figure out next steps for smarter production and manufacture in different ways.
The major challenge facing manufacturers is that consumers want everything now and want to buy as cheaply as possible. They also want products that are individual and customised to their own specific needs. Companies need to continuously revitalise their manufacturing processes to respond to demand for individualisation, offer goods at lower prices and remain competitive.
Digitalisation is changing manufacturing processes but the biggest change is what it will mean for people. We need to answer what happens to our factory workers who may lose their jobs to be replaced by a highly automated robotised environment. What will be left for them to do, consume? Technology is driving a change so widely through the organisation of our economies that there will be consequences. However, 100 years ago at the start of the industrial revolution I’m sure people were saying what I’m saying now, but after that there were plenty of job opportunities.
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MANUFACTURING LEADERS FORUM // 7 – 9TH JUNE 2017 // MUNICH
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