In an environment where manufacturers have and continue to overcome disruptions brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic, Manufacturing Operations Management Institute president and senior consultant Jan Snoeij has said industries need to innovate to survive and be successful through better systems integration, which will drive innovation.
Speaking during the Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association Africa year-end function on November 17, he said that, although manufacturers needed to do their sole business, namely manufacture goods, they also needed to adapt to a new environment brought about by the pandemic and, in doing so, drive innovation to survive and be successful.
Going back to the fundamentals, Snoeij said manufacturers needed to remember they were not just factories, but part of a supply chain – an extended value chain which was end-to-end.
“. . . in the end, consumers decide what we have done, if what we have created [and] put together in our collaboration in this supply chain is valuable enough to buy and then they will pay [for] it.”
Therefore, he said, manufacturers needed to take care about the way they added value in the perception of the consumers.
In doing so, manufacturers have to take into account the entire value chain and do a “great job” to make consumers happy – an endeavour that would, ultimately, result in a sustainable future for manufacturers, as well as the value chain lifecycle, which had become “more dynamic than ever before”.
“Therefore, we need to use all our resources for efficiency, effectiveness, compliance and agility. Therefore we can improve continuously,” said Snoeij.
To adapt, he said, manufacturers needed to improve their systems, while integration of better systems would accelerate innovation.
For example, Snoeij said the industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) was important to undertake in terms of finding new opportunities, which would be enabled by increased levels of cooperation, monitoring and control. Key here would be visibility and transparency in driving innovation using IIoT, as systems could be connected seamlessly.
Also, the convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) is a prerequisite because, he said, IT/OT should not be different worlds anymore with different cultures, different languages, a different set of people and different backgrounds.
As the technologies converge, Snoeij said, they needed to collaborate more closely – a factor that was “getting more and more important”.
In terms of improving collaboration, he said continuous change in factories needed to be carefully managed, keeping in mind the factors that motivated people. “If you ask people to do something, especially something extra, they may not say [it], but at least they will think [the question of whether it could do anything for their personal benefit].”
To that particular question manufacturers always needed to have a proper answer to convince employees that what they did held value and that there was something in it for them. “This is how you get that ownership, that motivation that drives forward,” said Snoeij.
As such, he said managers needed to enable motivational mechanisms. Snoeij added that managers needed to communicate more clearly to employees about company goals, company plans to achieve such goals and what was in it for employees.