IDC Manufacturing Insights: 10 Predictions for Manufacturing in 2012

I attended the IDC Manufacturing Insights Predictions 2012:  Manufacturing conference call today.   I enjoyed this call as IDC highlighted the key 2012 trends within the Manufacturing Industry.

This was a global predictions call and was focused broadly on manufacturing industry wide predictions.  The IDC Manufacturing Insights team has scheduled other prediction calls going into more detail on topics like Supply Chain and Product Lifecycle Management.  There are also other calls coming up that focus on manufacturing related predictions in both Europe and Asia.   

Leading this conference call was the IDC Manufacturing Insights team of Joe Barkai (Vice President), Simon Ellis (Practice Director), Kimberly Knickle (Practice Director), Pierfrancesco Manenti (Head – EMEA), and Bob Parker (Group Vice President)

Summary

In 2012, the industry could be characterized as having cautious optimism.  Manufacturing is recovering but business will never be the same.  IDC showed spending forecasts for all major sub-industries with manufacturing and all industries show growth with the consumer oriented industries showing the most growth. 

The Ten Predictions

The 2012 predictions list below was sourced from the conference call slides.

  1. ‘Engaged’ Organizations. “Success in the intelligent economy will be achieved through “engaged” organizations”.
  2. ‘Four Forces’. “IT organizations will make foundational investments in the “four forces” that deliver both IT productivity and business value”  (note:  IDC says the four forces are Mobility, Big Data, Cloud, and Social Business)
  3. Supply Chain Alignment. “Manufacturers Focus on Clock-Speed Alignment across the Supply and Demand Sides of their Supply Chains”
  4. IT Support of Supply Chain. “The Requirement for Speed and the Ubiquity of Information Creates a New Landscape for IT Support of the Supply Chain”
  5. Lean Innovation. “Manufacturers Adopt Lean Innovation Throughout the Product Lifecycle”
  6. Product Lifecycle Visibility. “Greater Visibility and Deeper Understanding of All Aspects of Product Lifecycle Enable Context for Innovation”
  7. Factory of the Future: Capabilities.  “The Factory of the Future will be Driven by Capabilities to Fulfill Customer Demand Rather than Pure Production Capacity”
  8. Factory of the Future: Operations. “The Factory of the Future will Require a New Approach to Operations Applications”
  9. Culture of Learning. “Engaged Manufacturers Look Ahead by Creating a Culture of Learning”
  10. Sustainability. “Manufacturers Shine Environmental Sustainability Spotlight on the Factory as a Means of Getting to the Product”

For More Information

A Primer on 3-D Printing: An Emerging Technology You Should Know About

A few days ago, the first 3-d printed airplane flew for the first time.  See the LA Times article “World’s first 3-D printed airplane takes to the skies”.

Although 3D printing has been around for a number of decades, the quality has increased dramatically in recent years and the prices are just beginning to drop, making it much more affordable for small and medium businesses.  And if you really want to explore 3D printing, they are even getting cheap enough for consumers to own.

The reality is 3D printing is a very cost-effective way to have an in-house rapid prototyping capability.  For a relatively modest investment, design engineers can use a 3D printer to catch design flaws earlier in the process lowering costs and shortening design cycles.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing involves having the computer sending the coordinates for a 3D object to an output device (a 3D Printer) that employs the same ink-jet printer principle that is used to print on paper.  However, in this case the ‘printer’ deposits successive layers of material to build up a full-scale 3D model.   The material used can be powder, plastics, resins or even metals.

In the case of powder, the printer is actually delivering ultra-thin layers of powder onto a surface, one on top of another, until it produces a 3D model.  With each successive run of the ‘printer head’, the powder that is deposited is then given a spray of a binding liquid that' helps to harden the powder and help form a solid object.

The end-result of this process might be a model which designers can use to verify a product’s design qualities before full-scale manufacturing begins, or it might be an end-use specialty product ranging from a component in a complex aircraft engine to a consumer medical  or dental implant.

The big benefits of 3D printing is it’s low cost and speed.  The printers can generally produce models in as little as one-tenth the time it takes other types of machines.  3-D Printer-produced models are throwaway models that allow you to see things you would not be able to see as well on a computer with a CAD system.  The beauty of this approach is people can hold the proposed design, study it, and get a good feel for its shape.

Video Introduction to 3D-Printing

The video below (about 4 minutes) provides an introduction to 3-D printing.

 

 

Implications for Traditional Manufacturing

It is doubtful that this new generation of 3D printers can replace traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding, machined or milled parts and manufacturing line assembly.  However I do believe that small and medium specialty manufactures should consider implementing 3D printing processes for individual steps or subsystems in a traditional line manufacturing process.  It is very possible that these new low cost printers would help reduce overall manufacturing costs.

Implications for Consumers

Many people in the 3-d printing industry fully believe every household will have a device that’s capable of printing any solid object, and even basic mechanical objects.  Imagine pressing the “bowl” or “cup” button on the 3D printer in the kitchen, followed by the “fork” or “spoon” button. It would even work for larger objects like cutting boards and colanders and laundry baskets — and it would be easy enough to provide fairly extensive customization, too: a stripy cup, with colors of your choosing, a narrower fork, a bowl that is perfectly tapered to support and grip an unwieldy watermelon, and so on.

Implications for Healthcare

Experts also see a bright future for 3D printing in the medical industry.  3D printing technology is currently being studied by biotechnology firms and academia for possible use in tissue engineering applications where organs and body parts are built using inkjet techniques. Layers of living cells are deposited onto a gel medium and slowly built up to form three dimensional structures.  Future applications include Organ printing, bio-printing, computer-aided tissue engineering.  

Vendors

For those of you wanting to learn more about products and services out on the market, here are a few vendor sites to visit

  • Desktop Factory  Makes a very small and affordable printers that truly fit on top of a desk.
  • 3D Systems   Provides mid-range solutions that employ a technology that film transfers photopolymer to build 3-D objects
  • Z Corp  Is widely thought of as providing top of the line printers for an office environment
  • MakerBot, an entry level machine, has sold more than 4,000 so far.
  • Ultimaker, a new entrant into personal 3-d printing

For More Information

CEO Survey: Trends in Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Penske - 2010 3PL CEO Survey Last week, Penske Logistics  and Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration jointly released the 17th Annual Survey of Third-Party Logistics Providers at the annual conference of Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).   The conference was attended by over 3,100 supply chain professionals from 41 countries.

The survey of 31 CEOs from leading third-party logistic providers provides a view into important trends and issues within the Supply Chain Management industry.  The surveyed companies represent important players in the supply chain market ecosystem within North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. 

I took a look at the report and here are my key takeaways:

  • Revenue Outlook is Improving.   25 of the 31 CEOs surveyed reported their companies were profitable during 2010.  Three reported they broke even and another three reported their companies were unprofitable.  The CEOs in all three regions were considerably more bullish about future revenue growth prospects of not only their companies, but also the regional 3PL industry that the previous year’s survey findings.
  • Progress Being Made In Sustainability.  While there is still much more work to be done with regard to sustainability, there seems to be some progress.  Fourteen of the 31 companies reported that they began new green initiatives during the past 12 months and all but 6 of the companies now have formal sustainability groups within their companies.
  • Near-Shoring As A Trend.   27 of the 31 CEOs report that manufacturing customers have begun to move toward “near-shoring” options during the past year.  Drives of this trend include quality control issues and a desire to reduce fuel usage (both for cost reasons and to help curtail carbon emissions)
  • Focus on Risk Management.  The report findings indicate CEOs have been busy implementing new business practices related to risk management/risk sharing; business continuity planning; performance based contracts; and enhanced vendor qualifications.   Pressure on 3PLs to share risk with their clients has increased, with 28 of the 31 CEOs reporting that their companies now have performance-based contracts with many of their clients.
  • Opportunities for Growth.  CEOs in all three regions ranked the overall growth of the market for outsourcing services as the most important opportunity.   Other opportunities include differentiating on sustainability capabilities and opportunities related to expansion of service offerings.

The full report is available for download at http://www.penskelogistics.com/pdfs/2010_Lieb_Exec_Sum.pdf

IDC Insights: Manufacturing Product Life Cycle Management 2010 Predictions

IDC PLM 2010 Predictions About a week or so ago I attended the IDC Manufacturing Insights conference call where IDC outlined its 2010 Predictions for Product Life Cycle Management.  On the call Joe Barkai, IDC PLM Practice Director and  Benjamin Friedman, IDC PLM Research Manager took the conference call attendees through IDC’s predictions and trends for the Manufacturing PLM market.

Here’s my summary of IDCs top trends in PLM

  1. Innovation and Business Alignment.  In 2010, IDC says there will be an increased focus on aligning PLM innovation with business strategy, making sure innovation is ‘productive’ and is helping the company achieve growth.
  2. Enterprise PLM is Maturing.  IDC is saying that PLM is becoming an important factor in the entire enterprise decision-making discipline, but more progress is needed to integrate all manufacturing systems across the organization.
  3. Socializing” Product Development:   Social computing has had an impact in marketing and support.  In 2010, we should all expect the social computing trend to have an impact on product development. Innovative firms will figure this out in 2010.
  4. Rising Demand for PLM Value:  IDC says that in 2010, PLM vendors need to demonstrate value and relevance.  IDC is encouraging vendors to emphasize integration, interoperability and open source.
  5. Visualization for Better Decision-Making:  Decision makers need to see the information in new and different ways in order to help them make better decisions.  Expect an increasing emphasis on the importance of making sense of all the data collected and stored via advanced analytics and visualization tools. 
  6. Technical Content is Back.   IDC says there will be an effort by companies to introduce new technical related services and improve the quality of existing services as a way to differentiate their products.
  7. Factory of the Future.  Smarter and more intelligent manufacturing is a big trend.  IDC says to expect an increased interest by manufacturing companies in the area of intelligent factory networks that can “design anywhere, build anywhere, sell & service anywhere”. 
  8. Beyond Discrete Manufacturing.  IDC believes that PLM software can and will be implemented in some non-traditional areas, like process manufacturing, retail and consumer goods, and perhaps even financial services.  
  9. PLM in the Cloud.  IDC says adoption of enterprise cloud-based PLM solutions will slowly begin to take off.  All the right drivers are in place and many of the concerns are being resolved.
  10. M&As to Close Gaps.   IDC says that given the economic climate, some firms will take the opportunity to merge and / or acquire other firms in order to build scale and/or access new markets.

Personally, I’d like to see a lot of focus on prediction number 3.  I don’t see many firms leveraging social computing yet as a way to innovate the product development process.

The webinar was recorded and you can check it out by going to IDC Insights Predictions 2010: Manufacturing Product Lifecycle Management (registration required).

For more information,

IDC Insights: 10 Manufacturing Industry Predictions for 2010

IDC Mfg Predictions For the last hour I listened in on the IDC Insights Predictions 2010: Manufacturing annual conference call where Bob Parker, Group Vice President at IDC, and a group of IDC analysts provided their predictions on what’s in store for the Manufacturing Industry in 2010.

I spent the first 8 years of my career (back in the 80’s) focused on the Manufacturing industry (anyone remember MAPICS?) and since then, my focus shifted to strategy, marketing and market intelligence disciplines.   So much has changed since I was deep into manufacturing.  Back then we were just happy to get small and mid manufactures up on automated front office and back office systems.  The manufacturer of today has so much more to think about when they employ IT systems across their business.  

The IDC analysts started the call with a review of the environment facing Manufacturers.  To summarize their comments…all the factors look to be in place for a major transformation of the manufacturing industry.  IT and related smart technology can enable this transformation.

The call then turned to the top 10 predictions, which focused on how trends in Manufacturing will impact spending on information technology and improvements.   The analysts covered predictions in supply chain, demand management, product lifecycle management, operations technology, smart technology, and sustainability.

Here’s my summary of the predictions presented on the conference call

  1. Business Model Transformation:  Companies will transform business models to better meet the needs of increasingly demanding customers
  2. Variable Cost Structures:  IT Organizations Will Look for Costs Structures that are more variable as they assist in making technology a focal point of business strategies.
  3. Variable Cost Driven Supply Chains:   Manufacturing companies will begin the process of fundamentally rethinking their supply chain structures, evolving from a fixed-cost-driven supply network to a variable-cost-driven value network.
  4. Dynamic Supply Chain Optimization:   Dynamic optimization dominates capability investment to support redefining of the Supply Chain.
  5. Product Innovation Aligned with Business Strategy:  Manufacturers will look to better align product lifecycle innovations with the overall business strategy.
  6. PLM Usage Matures:   Manufacturing companies will become more mature in their use of enterprise PLM applications.
  7. Fulfillment Networks:  Manufacturing companies will increasingly see factory assets as part of the larger fulfillment network.
  8. Intelligent Factory Networks:  Firms will create intelligent factory networks.
  9. Smart Services:  Smart services and the need for persistent assets create the inflection point for RFID, Sensors, and M2M.
  10. Sustainability:  Armed with metrics, manufacturers move from sustainability reporting to intelligence.

For more information

A Primer on 3D Printing

Although 3D printing has been around for a number of decades, the quality has increased dramatically in recent years and the prices are just beginning to drop, making it much more affordable for small and medium businesses.  And if you really want to explore 3D printing, they are even getting cheap enough for consumers to own.

The reality is 3D printing is a very cost-effective way to have an in-house rapid prototyping capability.  For a relatively modest investment, design engineers can use a 3D printer to catch design flaws earlier in the process lowering costs and shortening design cycles.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing involves having the computer sending the coordinates for a 3D object to an output device (a 3D Printer) that employs the same ink-jet printer principle that is used to print on paper.  However, in this case the ‘printer’ deposits successive layers of material to build up a full-scale 3D model.   The material used can be powder, plastics, resins or even metals. 

In the case of powder, the printer is actually delivering ultra-thin layers of powder onto a surface, one on top of another, until it produces a 3D model.  With each successive run of the ‘printer head’, the powder that is deposited is then given a spray of a binding liquid that' helps to harden the powder and help form a solid object. 

The end-result of this process might be a model which designers can use to verify a product’s design qualities before full-scale manufacturing begins, or it might be an end-use specialty product ranging from a component in a complex aircraft engine to a consumer medical  or dental implant.

The big benefits of 3D printing is it’s low cost and speed.  The printers can generally produce models in as little as one-tenth the time it takes other types of machines.  3-D Printer-produced models are throwaway models that allow you to see things you would not be able to see as well on a computer with a CAD system.  The beauty of this approach is people can hold the proposed design, study it, and get a good feel for its shape.

Video Introduction to 3D-Printing

The video below (just under 4 minutes) is a promotional video, but it really is one of the best videos I’ve seen that can help you understand what 3D printing is and how it could be used in an office environment.  The video is from the Z Corporation and it promotes the company’s ZPrinter 450.  While Z Corporation products are out of the price range for most individual users, they represent amazing technology that is commercially available to anyone.

It is doubtful that this new generation of 3D printers can replace traditional manufacturing methods such as injection molding, machined or milled parts and manufacturing line assembly.  However I do believe that small and medium specialty manufactures should consider implementing 3D printing processes for individual steps or subsystems in a traditional line manufacturing process.  It is very possible that these new low cost printers would help reduce overall manufacturing costs.

For More Information

Wikipedia has a nice article on 3D printing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/3D_printing).  And the site Fab@Home has lots of good information.  For those of you wanting to learn more about products and services out on the market, here are a few vendor sites to visit

  • Desktop Factory  Makes a very small and affordable printers that truly fit on top of a desk.
  • 3D Systems   Provides mid-range solutions that employ a technology that film transfers photopolymer to build 3-D objects
  • Z Corp  Is widely thought of as providing top of the line printers for an office environment

Global Location Trends Annual Report

Global Locations Trends A few days ago, IBM's Global Location Trends report-October 2009 was released. 

IBM’s Plant Location International services have been around for 50 years.  This IBM team provides advice to companies on their location decisions, covering all sectors and types of business functions.  Over the years, this team has acquired extensive expertise and knowledge on what shapes corporate investment decisions.  The team also works with government agencies worldwide for economic development and investment promotion in their efforts to improve and market their locations to investors.

Highlights from the 2009 Global Location Trends report include:

  • The economic recession clearly affected global investment activity: a decline of 25% in jobs created through foreign investment.
  • Various 'hot-spots' among the emerging markets were severely affected, as companies postponed or cancelled larger, risk bearing projects.
  • Stable, mature markets performed relatively better than the emerging markets, still attracting the smaller, consumer oriented projects, and being a safe choice for many consolidation projects (although the majority of these also showed overall decreases).
  • The widening of global investment continued. Despite the overall decrease in total investment, companies extended their search for markets, talents, and cost efficiency to new corners of the world. In particular, Africa continues to increase its share of global investment.
  • First indications for 2009 show that the above trends continue up until recently. Q3 and Q4 however clearly show signals of increasing activity. This is unlikely to lead shortly to similar numbers of new jobs as in recent record years, but shows that companies are beginning to change their focus to growth strategies again.

To find out more about IBM's Plant Location International team or to download the Global Location Trends report, visit the  IBM Global Location Trends website

Looking to 2050: Ten Challenges For The Human Race

Peter Schwartz is recognized internationally as a futurist and strategist.  He honed his skills at Royal Dutch/Shell Group in London, where he led a widely respected scenario planning effort.   He has written a number of interesting books about the future, including The Art of the Long View. 

This past May he gave the commencement address at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  During the address, he outlined ten longer term challenges for the human race as we look forward to the next 40-50 years.  He encouraged the graduates to come up with innovative solutions to these challenges. 

The top challenges Schwartz outlined are:

  1. Creating long-term solutions to meet our energy demands sustainably.
  2. Launching a bio-industrial revolution with sustainable manufacturing.
  3. Understanding and enhancing the human brain to avert age-related impairments.
  4. Improving agriculture to reduce costs and increase its energy and water efficiency.
  5. Building sustainable cities through better urban planning and "smart architecture”.
  6. Stimulating job growth and economic development.
  7. Fusing the technological with the spiritual and aesthetic dimensions of human culture.
  8. Advancing technological instruments to drive scientific discovery forward.
  9. Harnessing biological tools to advance human evolution.
  10. Discovering new ways to lower the costs and environmental impact of space flight and development.  

The list above is an interesting list.  I am not sure that these are the top ten most important challenges, but each of the above ten are certainly important. 

Some comments…

  • Energy tops his list and it is hard to argue that it should not be there.  I can’t see the demand for energy going down anytime soon and we need to figure out how to transition to clean energy. 
  • Improving agriculture processes in developing nations will have have a significant impact on the economy and quality of life.
  • Building smarter and sustainable cities is a very large challenge as the number of megacities grow and grow.
  • Number 9 on his list, “Harnessing biological tools to advance human evolution” sounds both scary and beneficial at the same time.
  • Regarding number 10, with announced plans to go back to the moon and to Mars, we will need innovative ways to travel through space and live at the destinations we travel to.

It is worth pointing out that many on the list kind of fall under the push for a smarter planet.

If you want to read a transcript of Peter Schwartz’s commencement address, check out http://news.rpi.edu/update.do?artcenterkey=2585

Can you think of any other challenges Schwartz’s list?  The only one that comes to my mind right now is the never ending desire to live in a world free from war and conflict, but I don’t suppose for one minute that that will be solved in the next 40-50 years.

IBM’s Global Location Trends Report

A few days ago, IBM's Global Location Trends report-October 2008 was released.  The report is prepared annually by Plant Location International (PLI), IBM's global center of excellence for global location strategies, and economic development strategies. 

IBM's Global Location Trends study reveals that multinational companies are increasingly widening their investments to include a number of emerging countries, with notable increases in Latin America and Africa.

Some of the key findings from this year's report are:

  • Globally, an estimated 1.2 million jobs will be created by 10,200 foreign (greenfield) investment projects announced in 2007.  
  • The widening of global investment is a structural trend: despite an overall decrease in total investment, companies extend their search for markets, talents, and cost efficiency to new corners of the world.
  • New emerging markets continue to appear on companies' radar screens; Latin America & Africa in particular are increasing their share of global investment
  • Different strategic location drivers (market, talents, cost efficiency) result in a variety of location choices by sector and business function; targeted economic development strategies are indeed effective in responding to these different location strategies.
  • Renewable energy sector promises to be an important new job creator in many different areas globally.
  • Indian and Chinese companies are increasingly creating jobs in key global markets, and becoming important target groups for inward investment attraction.
  • Competition for skills, markets and cost efficiencies forces companies to be increasingly innovative in where they locate their activities and how they structure their global footprint.

To find out more about IBM's Plant Location International team or to download the Global Location Trends report, visit the IBM Plant Location International website.