• October 7, 2015

3 Years, 3 Things—What Manufacturing Executives Need to Know

Phillip MullisBy Phil Mullis, Chief Technologist, UK & I Manufacturing, Construction and Services sector, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

It’s no longer just about the physical goods. Data is becoming a critical accompaniment in the manufacturing industry thanks to new regulations, the Internet of Things, and globalization of production. In this evolving environment, manufacturing sector executives must value the quality and reliability of data as much as the performance and attributes of their products.

Paying attention to these three considerations over the next three years will be critical to that strategy:

Traceability and Compliance

It’s no secret that environmental and safety regulations are tightening up. This year, for example, a new rule in the European Union requires 95 percent of each vehicle sold to be recyclable. Demonstrating compliance with this regulation requires product life cycle management throughout the supply chain.

This principle also applies to basic consumer goods. For instance, California now requires clothing makers to trace supply chain ingredients under its Green Chemistry Initiative. As a result, brands, retailers, and suppliers must provide due diligence reports that include bills of materials and specifications of supplies.

Dashboard views of how organizations are performing in tracking product attributes, manufacturing methods, and other factors that impact regulatory compliance will be critical.

Industry 4.0

As the Internet of Things proliferates, there will be much more machine-to-machine interfacing. This trend will make traceability and compliance easier. It will also enable manufacturers to discover, for example, which components are failing shortly after a product hits the market.

Timely information like this can help improve products by driving a redesign or by changing suppliers. If a flaw is detected early, manufacturers can fix it before a major product recall is necessary.

Capturing such information automatically through machine-to-machine communication will usher manufacturing into the Big Data era. Cradle-to-grave product data will provide opportunities for predictive analytics to guide key decisions impacting maintenance, manufacturing strategies, marketing, and other business decisions.

The Internet of Things, with the addition of many more avenues for hackers to attack networks, opens up additional risks of cyber attacks, though. Shoring up these points of vulnerability will become a requirement in your security strategy in coming years.


The trend of moving production to emerging markets to be closer to end users and to reduce supply chain costs will accelerate in coming years. Cost/benefit analysis about where and when it is advantageous to locate new manufacturing plants will take on a new spin with the addition of new manufacturing partners and suppliers.

More actors in the supply chain adds complexity, particularly for heavily regulated industries. For example, in aerospace, some airplane components may be used by both government and commercial customers. The former may require stricter security procedures and set a higher bar on regulatory compliance. Scrupulous documentation is necessary.

In addition, sharing intellectual property with more partners on the supply chain puts added pressure to secure data. In short, it is no longer enough to make things and to make them well. Detailed, secure data must complement good products.

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