Optimize business operations and processes for the Factory of the Future

24/04/20183 Minute Read

Some may have heard of the buzzword “industry 4.0”, a term that has much to do with cyber-physical systems, the Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing. It introduces the concept of “Factory of the Future”, in which machines are capable of making decentralized decisions on factory processes while communicating with other machines and humans via the internet. But what does that mean for manufacturers who may be interested in leveraging this trend to capture global opportunities?

To start, this trend is about capturing, processing and analysing information with ease, which in turn will facilitate automated decision-making and risk management. This is in line with the concept of digital transformation (DX)—the embracing of digital technologies to drive change and innovation. More manufacturers are already considering DX to sharpen their competitive edge, revamp their operations and propel business growth. In fact, according to IDC’s Asia/Pacific C-Suite Barometer Research 2016, 40% of manufacturers believe that DX can help them stay competitive.

For many manufacturers, this is a crucial step due to the intense competition that they face within their own country and from neighbouring countries. Manufacturing is a key contributor to most Asia Pacific economies, from developed countries such as Australia and Singapore, to developing ones like China, India and Indonesia.

At the center of this shift towards DX and Industry 4.0 are multi-function printers (MFPs), as they can help manufacturers reap efficiencies and save even more costs. These devices are drawing more attention as they have customizable graphical user interface panels, and are equipped with an open platform that allows custom functions to be programmed, such as scan-to-vector applications.

Given the critical role of documents in manufacturing operations in Asia Pacific, and coupled with the changing business priorities of Asia Pacific manufacturers, IDC believes that smart MFPs will only become more relevant and necessary. For example, the same IDC study shared that 64% of manufacturers believe IT will enable cost savings and drive productivity. They also cite their top three business priorities: operational efficiency and productivity gains (18%), company-wide cost savings (17%), and market expansion (15%).

China’s factory network model requires documents to be stored in the cloud. With this in mind, MFPs will become a hub for scanning, archiving and retrieving documents at separate locations—all while connected to the cloud. These devices should also cater for different paper formats and sizes, so as to accommodate to varying requirements across departments.

In light of evolving factory models, manufacturers based in Australia and India are also expected to adopt smart MFPs. As factory models gradually move towards modular platforms, these would require manufacturers to work with suppliers located close to customers. All parties involved—manufacturers, suppliers and customers—have to integrate their digital workflow together. Vendors that can offer remote monitoring, support and maintenance services will be crucial to this process.

Last but not least, larger ASEAN manufacturers are likely to adopt technologies and devices, such as MFPs, that are secure and scalable for future growth.

A few key considerations about MFPs should be kept in mind. In addition to the above, these devices should also offer quality color printing and fast speeds, as well as low breakdown rates and even lower total cost of ownership. As Asia Pacific manufacturers gradually rely on MFPs to enable smarter business operations and efficient processes, so will these devices underpin the factories of the future.

To find out how you can thrive in the DX era with print, download the IDC Manufacturing Viewpoint (PDF).

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