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Manufacturing smart: The transforming face of industry productivity

This blog post was published for the 2015 manufacturing conference


Today's guest blog is from Barrie Street, Customer Marketing Manager, Manufacturing, Canon UK & Europe

2014 was certainly a successful year for manufacturing and in Britain, we celebrated the 6th consecutive quarter of sector-wide growth according to the EEF’s chief economist, Lee Hopley. This is something that the entire industry should be proud of but continued success is all about change and building on momentum.

There are lots of labels that have been applied to this generational opportunity: the next Industrial Revolution; Industry 4.0; Industrial Internet of Things. Whichever label you choose to apply to it, digital technology and practises sit at the heart of the industry’s continued growth. 

The manufacturers that really capitalise on this opportunity will be the firms that are able to increase productivity, innovate information processes and accelerate their decision making. In short, smart manufactures need to find smart ways of working to capitalise on and maintain its current momentum. 


Automation took the industry a step forwards and today, connectivity amongst manufacturing processes is commonplace and has empowered an industry full of intelligent devices that produce huge amounts of data that can be collected and used to generate leaner operations, new business ideas and drive a new digital value chain. It’s not the factory of the future yet, but it’s getting there and the innovation shows no sign of stopping as inefficient or duplicated processes are eradicated. Increasing connectivity within these environments continues to transform how factories operate, buildings are managed, and entire logistical chains. But all of this automation and intelligent connectivity will require careful management to ensure that the technology delivers on its productivity promises.

Big data is already being used to optimise production schedules based on supplier, customer, machine availability and cost constraints, but this data is only useful if it can be utilised to increase productivity and efficiency. Manufacturers will continue to tackle increasing amounts of information across complex networks and supply chains, growing compliance standards and expanding customer demands - as they strive to increase productivity, maintain competitive advantage and be the best at what they do. The challenge then has evolved and ensuring that the right information reaches the right place and the right person at the right time is the key to operation efficiency within modern manufacturing. Linking and optimising essential processes, data and communications internally, across the supply chain and with customers and suppliers alike is enabling manufacturers to apply more intelligence across their operations, introducing efficiencies and reducing costs across the board.

If you’re interested in the changing face of modern manufacturing and the productivity benefits that digitally transformative processes can bring, why not follow our exclusive roundtable at this year’s National Manufacturing Conference on Twitter @CanonBusinessUK.

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