Information has always been the most dear commodity for businesses, particularly in the manufacturing sector. The company that predicts the next gotta-have-it product will survive and thrive. Companies that fail to mine the proper information fade into the dusk of last night. So how does the modern manufacturing company mine the gold of tomorrow’s dawning demand?
Social media buzzes with trends and pictures of goods, with comments about what’s missing and wishes for betterment. Manufacturers have an entire society of consumers giving comments on everything — the latest food craze, new cars and even the latest camping gear. It’s free advice floating in the cosmos. It’s the idea factory begging for a research and development department with the smarts to capture the data. It’s demand shouting from the tallest rooftop with the biggest amplifier, “THIS IS WHAT WE WANT!”
The best research and development operations take these data and create a supply of goods or services. They meet demand or even anticipate the trend and capture the next demand. Research and development creativity is the gold standard for the next century. Identifying the next great idea has never been easier. Forty years ago, most manufacturers thought the demand for home computers was minimal and not worth the investment. Now, personal computers are a direct tool of commerce directly connecting consumers to manufacturers. The demand was for computers that could fit on a desk, not computers requiring two heavily air conditioned floors of office space and punch cards.
Next-century manufacturers must exploit this tool. They must mine data, find the true demand, and research and develop products that meet the demand. That’s the essence of next-generation manufacturing — finding ways to deliver goods directly, quickly and intact.
The days of seeking cheap manufacturing labor are numbered. Why? Because shipping becomes more expensive and less green, a new consumer value, as it gets farther away. Companies now must balance the cost of labor, humanely treated labor, logistic costs to get the goods delivered quickly, and the environmental impact of the process.
Future products will need to be designed with reuse and recycling in mind. Even older machinery and equipment can be repurposed in the future economy. In the theory that everything old becomes new again, the new ethic in business is green. Once a product arrives at its destination, it needs to have a path back to the manufacturer or recycler. Design this ethic into the parts.
Look to social media for clues about future demand. Gather a brilliant research and development group together and meet the demands in a way that expresses a concern for the environment. Consider logistics when choosing a manufacturing location. Labor cost is not the only input. That’s your roadmap. Make things people want; then, go thrive in the next century.
Categorias: Asset Management