The next era of global manufacturing

Manufacturers are changing the way they do business as globalization is changing the nature of business. Technology and information are working hand-in-hand to make these changes possible.

By Chris Vavra December 12, 2018

The need for smarter industrial communications and information connectivity are driving automation companies to help manufacturers and others be more productive. At the Advantech Internet of Things (IoT) Co-Creation Summit in Suzhou, China, company executives outlined their overall plans to expand their presence in the IoT market worldwide. Eric Chen, president of general management for Advantech, outlined how industrial IoT (IIoT) and embedded IoT (EIoT) were among the company’s largest revenue drivers in 2018.

This tied in with their announcements of Advantech’s IoT platform architecture and solution ready packages (SRP)—which headlined the summit—as part of the company’s 2019 plans. The SRPs, in particular, are part of a larger initiative as Advantech is partnering with more than 30 companies to create a complete solution to present to companies rather than individual pieces. The partnerships allow Advantech to reach companies it wouldn’t be able to on its own as a hardware and software supplier. This strategy will be a key component of its strategy in the short- and long-term and is reflective of the new manufacturing environment.

Given the company’s overall growth in 2018, particularly in North America, Europe, and China, it is natural to keep looking for ways to improve connectivity to meet customer demand, whether it’s through partnerships or technology. The goal is to build a complete IIoT ecosystem and value chain, which will be paramount in the new era of manufacturing.

The next era of globalization

Manufacturing has gone through seismic changes since the turn of the century and has become more global and connected than ever thanks to the rise of the IIoT and additional developments. Technology allows customers to demand more specialized and specific products, and there is a greater need for specialization in addition to mass production.

Chaney Ho, Advantech’s executive director of the board, outlined what manufacturing might look like in his presentation, “Next Era of Globalization – Globalization 3.0.”

He outlined the rise of Globalization 1.0, which started with the industrial revolutions in England and America in the 18th and 19th centuries, respectively, and went on to the end of the 20th century. Globalization 2.0 started in the 1990s and has gone on through to today as manufacturing has become more global with the rise of the Internet and the potential it has brought to the industry. Manufacturing capabilities have grown beyond what many could have anticipated and continue to do so.

Globalization 3.0, Chaney Ho said, is about achieving a balance of the marketplace and manufacturing activity. Manufacturing is being moved closer to the market to create an industry ecosystem and job opportunities.

This has been going on in the U.S. for a while now. Automotive manufacturers based in Europe and Asia have moved overseas plants closer to where their customers are. It’s more economical than building cars several thousand miles away and incurring the costs of shipping them across the ocean on giant ships.

Now, other manufacturers are getting in on this. Chaney Ho highlighted several examples including the incoming Foxconn plant in Wisconsin and a plan to build subway cars in central Massachusetts.

The key to Globalization 3.0 is exploring the manufacturing value chain in the global market and developing the manufacturing value chain closer to the end market. The manufacturing value chain consists of materials, technology, research and development (R&D), workers, sales, and services.

Globalization 3.0 is also about strengthening manufacturing intelligence, which is where the IIoT comes in. Smarter and more accurate information is key in meeting customer demand. Information from robots, sensors, and actuators needs to be fed up the chain and synthesized into something usable with Big Data analysis and machine learning (ML).

The constant demand for more manufacturing and more intelligence is going to be a key driver for the next era of globalization. Manufacturers are doing what they can to try and stay ahead of the curve.

Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

ONLINE extra

See an article from Control Engineering China about their IIoT ecosystem and supply value chain.

Author Bio: Chris Vavra is web content manager for CFE Media and Technology.