Building the Factory of the Future: Key Takeaways for Manufacturing Leaders

Factory of the future, also called smart manufacturing or Industry 4.0, results from fast-altering disruptive technologies striking manufacturers’ cyclones. Operational technology, as well as information technology, are both observing great advancements and innovations.

The confluence of these two technologies is generating a paradigm transition. As a result, the manufacturing sector is undergoing the fourth industrial revolution.

In Africa, the future of work is playing out moderately different from the occurrence in advanced economies. As a result, new technologies are likely to develop new jobs and boost the productivity of existing ones. Within the world of technology, this section focuses on digital technologies as these technologies have the potential for rapid future generation and are also adopted across the world. This approach also includes the generation and adoption of low-skill-biased technologies that enable low-skilled workers to learn and upgrade their skills on the job.

Recent evidence points to large positive employment effects and no displacement of low-skill jobs in African countries after the arrival of fast internet connectivity. Digital technologies influence employment through a suite of different channels, comprising changes in firm entry, increase in productivity, and changes in exports.

Results of smart manufacturing along with foundational technology- The Internet of Things shows 80% increased efficiency and 42% lesser product defects in manufacturing processes. This approach indicates the best time to invest and implement such technologies is now. As a result, one can expect better growth in the manufacturing sector and a strong boost to the continent’s economy.

Trends and Technologies shaping the African manufacturing sector.

While the specific emphasis is on digital technologies, other technical upgrading categories enable organizations to retain jobs and skills.

Repurposing local items: For example, the global demand for outfits sharply decreased during the pandemic, while Africa had a large demand for personal protective equipment (PPE). In the face of global export bans on COVID-19 essentials, governments supported the repurposing of local manufacturing firms into PPE production. This strategy ensured that skills were being retained for sustainable production in Africa. This scenario was particularly evident in garment companies in the Hawassa Industrial Park and Transgreen in Ethiopia.

Need for Adaptive Innovation: In Africa, innovation and technological development have mostly relied on governments providing the enabling business environment, investing in research and development (R&D), and supplying the analog complement, for example, electricity and the regulatory framework (top-down model). However, the private sector can implement adaptive innovations and inventions operating in an entrepreneurial model and often sponsors development partners (bottom-up model).

Expanded use of digital technologies: Many industries expanded the use of digital technologies in response to the pandemic. The survey conducted by Business Pulse of 18 countries in Africa shows that 22% of organizations either started or increased the use of the internet, social media, and other digital technologies. The intensity in the use of digital technologies was higher in financial, manufacturing, information, and communications services. Over time, a greater percentage of Kenyan associations adopted digital technologies in response to the pandemic, especially among manufacturing firms and small firms, driving increased sales and employment in these countries.

Learn more at: Manufacturing IT Summit – Africa Edition

Event by Exito Media Concepts

Africa’s Manufacturing Sector: Gaps and Opportunities

Africa is now seen as a continent full of growth opportunities, especially in the manufacturing sector.

Fuel, food and beverages, chemicals, glass, ceramics, and cement form the bulk of manufacturing industry in the continent. As part of post-pandemic recovery and increase in demand, the manufacturing sector is expected to hit $666 billion by year-end.

There is certainly a high need to empower manufacturing stakeholders in the continent to enter the new age of innovation and technology and ensure better sustainability to compete in production and trade with western countries.

Potential for Africa’s manufacturing sector in the world

In Africa, the average age group of people from 14-24 years are expected to grow more than double this year compared to 2015. Hence, one can expect high growth in the youth and thus a direct result in robust growth in the manufacturing sector. Countries like Uganda, Tanzania, etc. have also witnessed the interest of investors in varied sectors. The Free Trade area launch in 2018 has been another significant step towards encouraging manufacturing and industrialization in the continent.

5 digital transformation strategies that could boost growth in the manufacturing sector in Africa

1. Hybrid Future Work

Organizations should adopt a hybrid/ blended workplace model to maintain mobility. The hybrid workplace model is a combination of both remote and office work together. It gives employees the flexibility to work in both environments. Much like the rest of the world, Africa’s manufacturing sector will greatly benefit from a hybrid work model. This model empowers employees with access to individual tasks with automated workflows coupled with the physical office for collaborative tasks with peers and groups.

2. Cloud Computing

The future workspace aligned with cloud computing is one of Africa’s key industry technology trends in 2021. It will enable businesses to stop investing in costly infrastructure. Instead, businesses can already implement cloud computing in the workplace, storing their data in highly secured cloud systems. Only authenticated users can access and edit information on it anytime.

3. Automation

Automation equipment aid in automating the activities and measure performance. Automation enhances the efforts of the workforce that in turn drives productivity. Automation can even facilitate the creation of new job positions. The critical, regular operations can also be efficiently handled through automated processes without errors. Digital Twin Technology is yet another application of automation that is gaining traction in product development and business performance improvement.

4. Bringing your atmosphere into the remote workforce

The significant obstacle of current periods is that the businesses are exponentially shifting towards a remote workforce . It has sustained business continuity and has given employees the flexibility and accessibility to be productive. So, Bringing-Your-Own-Environment gives employees the freedom to be reliant on the remote working system. This increases productivity and ensures a better employee experience.

5. Creating a compelling employee experience

Organizations should host training and development workshops and modules to train employees at their own pace. Employees should have the freedom to use social media systems to voice their ideas and opinions related to tasks and operations, ensuring a transparent workplace. When employees work remotely, organizations also need to showcase periodic feedback and training to keep them motivated.

The aforementioned digital transformation strategies can certainly drive growth in African manufacturing sector, while propelling them towards a better future.

Learn more: Africa edition-Manufacturing IT Summit​