From NZ Manufacturer, December issue, focussing on ‘The Year in Review’
Catherine Lye – CEO, Advanced Manufacturing Aotearoa
If you hate the phrase ‘we’ve always done it this way’ and lead your business/team with ‘we’re going to try different, we’re going to try this, we think this will be a better way to improve quality & efficiency’, then you may identify more readily with advanced manufacturing.
After all, manufacturers are all about advancing their business every day and trying to find the next thing that will make them better, faster, more competitive.
It is, however, important to recognise that not all small medium sized businesses (“SMB”) in New Zealand’s manufacturing sector may readily identify with the term “Advanced Manufacturing”.
The majority of New Zealand’s SMB’s may be operating with traditional methods and technologies that have been effective for their specific needs.
Factors such as limited budgets, resistance to change, distractions with a global pandemic or not knowing where to start with integrating Advanced Manufacturing tools and techniques can contribute to this reluctance to adopt – after all there is a lot that you could do but what should you do?
In the context of a small to medium sized business (SMB), advanced manufacturing embodies a transformative approach that simply translates to “Smarter, Modern, Better” operations.
“Smarter Manufacturing” entails harnessing data analytics and automation to make informed decisions in real-time, optimising resource allocation, and reducing waste.
The higher value of thinking is around the integration of tools, knowledge, and data. The challenge is finding easier ways to manage and extract data in an easy-to-understand report for everyone. It can make your eyes bleed figuring out what’s going on with 10,000 rows of daily data – you can chart it one way and it is meaningless, chart it another way that is meaningful and it starts to make some sense driving decisions around quality management and machine optimisation.
The push for industry4 by manufacturing leaders is to provide the team with insights. Most of manufacturing is still human powered. It’s about giving the team the tools they need to make their days easier or giving them better information to drive efficiencies in the plant.
Smarter Manufacturing puts you in control, automates all the boring stuff and helps you exceed your customers’ expectations every day. It allows you to do more and better at the same time.
“Modern manufacturing” leverages state of the art tools like 3D printing, IOT, and AI to adapt to rapidly changing market demands and deliver flexible, customised solutions. To stay competitive, SMBs need to embrace modern manufacturing methods that keep them aligned with the latest industry trends and innovations.
Advanced manufacturing technologies such as 3D printing, robotics, and artificial intelligence have become accessible and affordable, offering new opportunities for SMBs to modernize their operations.
3D printing, for instance, enables rapid prototyping and customisation, allowing SMBs to respond quickly to changing customer demands. This not only saves time but also reduces waste, making the manufacturing process more environmentally friendly.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is another modern manufacturing tool that can transform SMBs. Machine learning algorithms can analyse large datasets to identify patterns, predict future trends, and even assist in quality control. By integrating AI into their operations, SMBs can not only reduce production errors but also make proactive decisions to optimize their processes and meet customer expectations.
Advanced manufacturing ultimately leads to better operations for SMBs – “better” competitiveness, sustainability, and growth, ensuring that the business remains agile and capable of meeting the evolving needs of the market.
In today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, staying competitive is paramount for SMBs. Advanced manufacturing with its promise of smarter, modern and better operations, has become a crucial strategy for SMBs to thrive in an increasingly complex and tech-driven world.
If you haven’t understood and started incorporating Advanced Manufacturing into your business, it’s important to understand the impact. It’s important that small business learn, embrace, incorporate it, otherwise you will become dinosaurs.
Some of our business owners are at an age where they are looking at succession plans and wanting to sell – if you haven’t understood and incorporated advanced manufacturing into your business model – it won’t be attractive for someone to buy into.
Get curious – there are so many resources and genuinely helpful people out there – AMA (Advanced Manufacturing Aotearoa) has spearheaded a collaboration structure through the development of its own regional manufacturing hubs across New Zealand.
Given the high percentage of SMBs in manufacturing, these regional hubs are critical for connecting local manufacturers with experts as well as other manufacturers who can share experiences. All of this aims to help these communities build their advanced manufacturing capabilities and ensures we remain globally competitive.
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