October 7, 2016
Industry experts have declared that we are entering what has been dubbed “the Fourth Industrial Revolution.” In an era of branding and marketing, we have already heard this referred to as Industry 4.0 and Factory 4.0. For the duration of this particular article, we will be using the term Manufacturing 4.0.
What is Manufacturing 4.0? To put it succinctly, the manufacturing industry is taking advantage of the technological advances being made and successfully integrating these advancements into their day-to-day operations.
For some, the next logical question might seem to be “What does it mean for the future of the manufacturing industry?” However, the real question is “what does it mean to the present state of the manufacturing industry?” The elements of Manufacturing 4.0 have been available for quite some time.
An innovation like 3D printing, one of the key elements of this new Industrial Revolution, has been in existence since May 1980 when a patent for “Rapid Prototyping,” a forerunner of 3D printing technology was filed. Fast-forward to 2016 and a PwC survey of US manufacturers indicated that “two out of three companies are already adopting 3DP (3D Printing) in some way.” (Source: http://www.pwc.com/us/en/industrial-products/next-manufacturing/3d-printing.html)
Robert E. Moritz says companies from small shops to multinational corporations are using 3D printing for more than just prototypes, it’s being used for final products. (Source: http://www.linkedin.com/pulse/dispatch-from-davos-manufacturing-40-fourth-robert-e-moritz)
In addition to the next wave in industrial advancement becoming reality, so too are a new wave of robots with increase sensing, dexterity, memory and trainability, the latter coming from work with human workers.
And while the Internet has long been used to help market the products that are the achievement of the hours and effort of the manufacturing industry. Manufacturing 4.0 leverages the use of the internet, or rather, interconnected operations to automatically deliver efficiency and quality improvements to networked sensors and assembly systems while, at the same time, offering new opportunities in monitoring and maintenance.
To jump back to our previous question, one key impact that Manufacturing 4.0 will be able to provide manufacturers with the ability to deliver customized items to their customers and clients in shorter turn-around times than ever before. To take a clothing manufacturer as an example, the advances made through this new era will substantially increase the customer’s ability to choose the proper size of clothing. Instead of having to choose from just four sizes (small, medium, large and extra-large), the customer will be able to purchase clothes suited to their specific body size.
Of course, the real question may be, how do we successfully implement Manufacturing 4.0 into day-to-day operations?
Perhaps the Manufacturing Leadership Council said it best in their September 13 blog post “Identifying a Path to Manufacturing 4.0” (Source) when they stated that it would take “a great deal of experimentation, trial and error and, yes, practice” with Manufacturing 4.0 in order for manufacturers to reap the benefits of what they termed “this next wave of industrial progress.”
Sath Rao has given us another acronym in a Manufacturing Leadership Journal article entitled “Manufacturing 4.0: The F.I.X. for the Future.” (Source) F.I.X. stands for Flexibility (agile production processes), Innovation (driving the innovation process) and X-Transformation (strategically planning for a disruptive future). As Rao says, “this F.I.X. for manufacturing requires us to look beyond the obvious.”
But what it really boils down to is If we are to take advantage of this great change, we must be able to take advantage of this great change. Manufacturing 4.0 presents a great opportunity but we must seize that opportunity.
April 10, 2016
“If you’re not growing, you’re shrinking; nothing is static in the world.”
A major new product line just launched and a manufacturer won the contract which will last for over 3 decades. Did you hear about it, or get in on it? If you didn’t, you missed a huge opportunity for revenue growth. Maybe you did, maybe you didn’t. It’s unlikely it was relevant to your manufacturing services anyway. All I can say is that digital marketing works because this opportunity came through an online search when a large company needed to source a manufacturer.
I see exceptional opportunities generated once in a while. This was a rarity (3 decades!), but I see large deals come through all the time for the manufacturers we market online.
Another manufacturer with whom we work launched an online marketing campaign and had a random phone call asking if this was their competitor. The manufacturer was confused. The customer then looked back at his computer screen and realized he had dialed my client’s phone number which was hovering right above the competitor’s name. He laughed, had a chat, and my client won the business. This is definitely not something we can duplicate exactly, but this example shows that being relevant online, where people intend to buy now, is where you want to be.
Peter Drucker, the famous management consultant, said that the purpose of a business is to create a customer by serving others. The two main functions of a business are marketing and innovation.
The internet is a great channel for marketing. Search engines are a gateway to revenue because people have intentions when they search online, and those intentions are:
- to learn more by researching information which will lead to revenue
- to be entertained (If done right, this can lead to PR and other opportunities)
- to buy a service or product
The first example of the manufacturer that won a 3-decade long contract was first researched online by the customer, who then contacted the manufacturer at a later date.
The second example above was a customer who was looking for a certain manufactured product and wanted to buy now. He didn’t have the time to hang up the phone and call the other manufacturer.
Our world is in transition from the Industrial age to the Information age. People have less time and want results faster. The quicker you can build trust and credibility, and show your business online, the faster your business will grow.
Manufacturing Customers Inc. has worked in both worlds. We will help you make the leap to grow your business and to take advantage of the Information age.
Manufacturers prefer to work with a company that understands manufacturing and marketing. This is why Manufacturing Customers Inc. is in business.
Here are a few helpful tips before launching an online marketing campaign:
- Search Engines: Google is #1, but you already knew that. Youtube is the #2 search engine. Did you know that? Video is important and we will explain why. Contact us.
- Social Media: Yes, it’s extremely important for manufacturers to truly understand what this means for your future. However, you don’t need to jump on every social media platform tomorrow. First, start with search engines and build toward social media. If you want to know why, and how, contact us.
- Outsource: We know you don’t have time to undertake an online marketing campaign by yourself, nor do most manufacturers, because you are busy running your manufacturing plant. This is why you outsource to a firm that understands manufacturing, and not just online marketing. Manufacturing is an entirely different business than selling clothes online. A lot of firms recommend SEO (search engine optimization) like we do, but their advice means nothing if they don’t understand your customer and your business.
The next article will talk about growth. Not all manufacturers want to grow. However, we will discuss how to keep your manufacturing business from shrinking when the next recession hits. My prediction is 2018-2020.
If you are interested in learning more about online marketing for your business, contact: David@manufacturingcustomers.com. We can setup a time to meet, or you can request a free marketing report that I will personally send to you. The report will show you how many people have searched for your products or services online in the last 12 months.
September 20, 2015
The first thing I get across to the Manufacturers that I work with is that MANUFACTURING CUSTOMERS INC. manufactures customers. Our focus is on designing and creating the right type of customers to bring in the door then executing a plan to sell and market to those customers Online or Offline.
The point of a business isn’t to make sales and profits it’s to “create and keep customers” in a cost effective manner that leads to profits. Your job as a business owner is to serve others and understand who you are serving. You must know who your customer is and what their needs and desires are. How does your business fulfill those needs? You are a guru on your industry and your market. Understanding changes as they happen and anticipating what your customers will want requires planning and thinking.
A view from 30,000 feet
Our economy shifted from an agrarian economy in the 17th and 18th century (where 70-80% of people worked on farms) to a manufacturing economy in 19th and 20th century which resulted in increased productivity and output (doing more with less). As of right now only 2% of people work on farms and they are able to produce enough to feed billions of people. Our economy is always in transition. We are transitioning from a manufacturing economy where majority of people were affiliated with manufacturing in physical jobs to more people working with their minds (Blue Collar vs White Collar). This shift is not new, it’s been happening for decades but it’s really starting to impact manufacturers in North America if you’re doing business development, marketing and sales like you were 10-20 years. The Information Age in the 21st century is here and yes China has dominated Manufacturing for sometime but there are some ways to thrive as a manufacturer in this economy, you just need to think and innovate which requires change and nobody likes change at first. At Manufacturing Customers we help you with your thinking by providing clarity and a framework to think from.
Thinking and how to grow your manufacturing business…
- Clarity: Crystal clear thinking
- Unique Value: Are you useful? How are you different from your competitors?
- Operations: Staying lean and Innovative
Clarity: What business are you in and what business are you really in? Describe your business from the customers point of view and the value they receive without describing your product or service. Ask others what business you’re in. Do people want a drill or do they want the hole it creates.
Unique Value: Don’t compete, create. You’re a manufacturer after all. If your products or services are not better or somehow differentiated then why are you in the market? If you’re not different then you are a commodity and price will always be a factor. Ask yourself what unique value does your business bring or could bring to the customers and market you serve? Not from your perspective but your customers perspective, how are you different and useful to them in their mind compared to your competitors. “Quality and Service” is not an answer because your competitors also offer some level of quality and service so unfortunately it doesn’t make anyone unique. Quality and Service are must haves as a starting point.
Operations: A lot of manufacturers focus on reducing expenses and being more efficient with the resources they have. Those are important points but it’s setting your operations up for failure unless you invest an equal or greater amount of time thinking about innovation with research and development (Trying things out and failing lots). Most of us have heard of Lean Manufacturing but have you heard of Lean Startup? It’s a methodology that some software companies use to innovate and bring new products and services to market. It helps you fail quickly so you only need to invest a little time and little to no money.
At Manufacturing Customers Inc. we walk you through a few exercises that help you get a firm grasp on your business and then we work with you create and execute a plan to grow your business online or in the real world (offline).
If you’re interested in what separates great companies from average companies I recommend reading a book by Jim Collins who wrote Good to Great .
Author: David Uram: David is the founder of Manufacturing Customers Inc. He works with Manufacturers to help them grow their revenues and profits through Business Development, Sales, Marketing and Innovation.