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Beyond Survival: How Manufacturing Must Master Adaptation as a Competitive Edge

We’ve long understood that adaptation is critical to survival: and never has that been clearer than in the response to this year’s events. 

However, our ability to respond to the unexpected doesn’t just impact how we weather an immediate crisis. It shapes our future success and relevance, enables us to rise to new opportunities, or to ward off emerging threats. Fast adaptation can be our competitive edge. 

We don’t know what the next COVID-19 will look like, but we can establish a response framework long before that catalyst for change arrives. For the manufacturing sector, there are some critical trends we need to embrace to stay agile and future-proof our operations.

#1. Escape pilot purgatory with tactical, data-led innovation

If we’re not moving forward, we’re falling behind. Continuous innovation is critical for manufacturers to stay relevant, but 70% of manufacturing organizations are “languishing in ‘pilot purgatory’” (McKinsey) and unable to bring manufacturing innovation to scale. 

Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) strategies may still feel like ‘pie in the sky’ future ideals for many, but small applications today can set you up to be sustainably competitive for years to come. 

Start with front-line data collection, low-cost deployment of IoT and central data analysis to get the foundations in place. With the right data behind you, you’ll be equipped to respond and adapt faster.  

#2. Rethink the roll-out of automation and robotics 

Automation and robotics tend to make the largest change splash, due to their impact on the labour force. But manufacturing is continuing to look more machine than human: and to remain adaptable, we need to be rolling these technologies out, fast. 

The key to success lies in shifting our driving forces and approach. Organisations that look to reskill workforces and prioritise sustainability or environmental issues in their automation roll-outs will be the winners long-term.  

#3. Get familiar with the customer profile

Customer obsession is a theme typically seen in retail or hospitality. In fact, manufacturing has traditionally been at least two degrees removed from its direct consumers. 

But it’s an attitude that may be costing us. 83% of industrial firms that have been most successful at increasing revenue, market share or net promoter score (NPS) say they’ve made meaningful investments in digital customer engagement, vs only 19% of less successful firms (HBR.)

Deploying consumer-level tactics for engaging with customers will not only help us stay ahead of the curve, but tap into change or market need faster: and adapt in readiness accordingly.

Interested to learn more? ‘Adapt fast or disappear: a report for Manufacturing Operations leaders to navigate the seas of opportunity, accelerate change, and build resiliency beyond COVID-19’ is now available for free download. With in-depth analysis and real-life case studies, it will equip your manufacturing operations for future success. Get your report now

SafetyCulture is a global technology company which supports businesses to do their best work everyday. Its adaptive, mobile-first products help to streamline operations and foster high performing, safer workplaces.

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