Opinion: The new era in manufacturing

Mansoor Sarwar, regional technical director at Sage Middle East on why manufacturers should embrace Industry 4.0

Sarwar: The manufacturing industry has emerged as a key driver of innovation and competitiveness.
Sarwar: The manufacturing industry has emerged as a key driver of innovation and competitiveness.

Globally, the manufacturing industry has undergone a revolution of sorts over the last few years, and now, more than ever before, the sector remains critically important to both the developing and the developed worlds. In the past, the sector was viewed through a traditional lens that delineated manufacturing and services into two fundamentally different sectors.  However, in recent years, we have seen a shift in perception, with companies beginning to realise that customer satisfaction and information systems is essential in every aspect of business irrespective of the industry.

The manufacturing industry is rapidly evolving and reinventing itself with the adoption of technology that has streamlined and simplified processes. At the centre of the industrial transformation is the Internet of Things (IoT) and Industry 4.0 that have played a crucial role in providing companies with a competitive edge. Manufacturing companies have always needed systems that offer connectivity and deeper insights into the business. Equally, they are keen to be able to oversee operations and obtain support for product-related innovative initiatives to benefit from new commercial opportunities.

The emergence of IoT enabled businesses to implement solutions that offer a more holistic picture of the overall business. Similarly, Industry 4.0 also introduced a hybrid approach of virtual and actual content warehouses that helped pre-empt and prepare in advance - freeing up resources on the production and collaboration side of the industry.

The upward trajectory of digital adoption

Despite its late adoption of technology when compared to other sectors, the manufacturing industry has emerged as a key driver of innovation and competitiveness, making significant contributions to research and development as well as quality control, thereby spurring growth in productivity.

Overall, the region is steamrolling ahead with digital transformation. The rate of IoT adoption in the Middle East and Africa region is expected to accelerate over the coming years and will impact the manufacturing industry as well. Organisations from both the public and private sectors will increasingly digitalise their businesses in a bid to automate their operations and ramp up productivity, ultimately enhancing profitability.

Manufacturing is not monolithic

Manufacturing companies have realised that operational efficiency requires putting in place tailored and multifaceted solutions and systems that streamline processes and achieve their overall business objectives. However, solutions developers and providers need to understand that no two manufacturing entities are exactly alike. While some industries are more labour intensive, others are knowledge-driven. Some rely heavily on transportation, while for others, proximity to customers is core.

Given the plethora of benefits, technology integration and automation is no longer a mere luxury. Indeed, it is a necessity for manufacturing industries, as it considerably eliminates onerous and painstaking procedures for business leaders and allows them to focus on the job at hand -the actual running of the business.

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