The “What’s in it for my business” approach to Next Manufacturing

November 1, 2016

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By Steve Pillsbury, Principal, PwC’s US Industrial Products practice

Next manufacturing. Internet of Things (IoT). Industry 4.0. Digitization. It seems as if new terms to describe the technological transformation happening within manufacturing pop up daily. Like all things shiny and new, it’s easy to be swayed by the desire to incorporate new technologies as a means of staying ahead. And while it’s important to maintain focus on customer needs and innovations being driven by technology, equally important, if not more so, is making sure consideration is given to how the industrial internet is impacting a company’s bottom line.

Changes being wrought by the digitization of industrial operations can best be broken into four key areas:

  • Manufacturing
  • Capital asset management
  • Supply chain
  • Product innovation and development

Savvy suppliers are already developing solutions to cover the many “use cases” for each of the above key areas, and are taking a look at the jobs that must be done within each and the value that could be created as a result. But without a full understanding of how each of the uses cases in all four areas combine to create a complete ecosystem of solutions, developing an overall strategy that will get them to their goal could prove more difficult.

For example, traditional and non-traditional solutions providers are building IIoT capabilities to optimize the performance of machines inside the “digital factory,” such as condition-based monitoring and optimization of a CNC machine or a stamping press. While clearly there is value in optimizing the machines, these are nonetheless “minor assets” to a factory. Operations leaders are equally or more concerned about optimizing their “major asset” – the factory itself. Solution providers who offer an integrated suite of capabilities (to optimize machine, material, flow, labor inside and outside the four walls of the factory) will win in the emerging digital operations marketplace.

Important to remember in this journey is that there is no perfect technology solution, and no single solution. Every technology won’t work for every business, despite how popular it is. Success will look different for each company, and will require the implementation of a baseline practice: incorporating solutions that address operational problems a business is trying to solve.

In Connect and Optimize: The new world of digital operations, we explore how companies can best navigate the market’s current hype and confusion regarding this transformation. Through guidance on critical questions that should be addressed by executives, we’ll provide a road map that can help lend itself toward finding the right solutions for the long-term operational success of your business. A hint: The key is in understanding where the value lies.


©2016 PwC. All rights reserved. PwC refers to the US member firm or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates, and may sometimes refer to the PwC network. Each member firm is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.  This content is for general information purposes only, and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisors.


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