Everything you need to know about the future of manufacturing, you can learn from the Batmobile. No, that is not a typo. Finally, your secret love for comic books… sorry, I mean graphic novels (have to be careful here) is paying off!
The Batmobile has been around for over seven decades. It still blows our minds. Of course, the cool gadgetry has everything to do with it. But what makes it magnificent is that it turns a flesh and blood man into an almost supernatural being. It is fantastically engineered to combat and overcome all the snares and booby traps laid out by all the various villains of Gotham City.
Imagine that Batman is your client and asks you to create a vehicle for him. First of all, you need to understand exactly what he needs. What kind of obstacles does he face and how is your technological marvel going to handle them?
Second, what’s your production process? You realize that he’s constantly, intentionally putting your creation in harm’s way. How can you make your product durable, easy to maintain yet have the highest level of performance?
Third, do you have the right people to build it? If not, can you train your employees or can you entrust this with an external specialist?
As we look at the various strategies you need to employ for success, let’s highlight what your priorities are.
Improving Your Production Processes
Batman would be a great client. I’ve never heard him complain about the global financial crisis. It seems the villains still haven’t managed to hack his account, so he’s likely to pay whatever you put on the invoice. Our reality is quite contrary. You have a bottom line, so you need technology that reduces your cost and increases efficiency.
Low cost of labor led to most manufacturers outsourcing significant portions of their production process to China. As developing countries grow, so does the wage rate and the competitive edge once gained from outsourcing to those areas is lost. Robotics will see this reversed and manufacturers will be able to bring production stateside once again.
Complete automation can only be fully effective if it reduces downtime. That requires real-time data on machine performance and proper data analysis that can help you predictively schedule maintenance. If you haven’t heard about the Internet of Things (IoT), this would be where that comes into play.
Let’s return to the Batmobile for a second. Now, we all know that the Batmobile also has a lab in it. Now imagine if one of the Joker’s traps involves the release of dangerous gas. The car having detected the gas sends a message to the vaccine synthesizer in the Batcave. The car then transports its now unconscious master straight home to where Alfred can administer the antidote and save Bruce for the umpteenth time.
Similarly, by monitoring the efficiency of your machines, you can use technology to come up with a maintenance schedule that is preventive rather than curative. That reduces machine downtime, costs of emergency repair and increases efficiency. In essence, your machines would be talking to each other and giving you a comprehensive, consolidated report on performance.
Understanding the Customers’ Needs and Improving Customization Responsiveness
Once upon a time, all a phone had to do was make and receive calls. Now, a phone is a virtual personal assistant, personal trainer, entertainer, flashlight, medical adviser, and navigator just to name a few of its purposes. Your products need to remain relevant, and your ability to adjust your process or alter your product can make the difference between thriving and closing shop.
The technological investments you make need to be geared toward getting you closer to your customer. The more direct your relationship, the easier it is for them to feed you information on their needs. The sooner you know what it is they want, the faster you can implement changes to meet their requirements.
So what can technology do for you in this arena? Data analysis, telecommunications, and even artificial intelligence technologies will prove to be vital to grow and maintain your customer base.
Even the Batmobile needs an upgrade every few years. The threats faced by our beloved Dark Knight keep changing. Batman’s competition—all those criminals he’s trying to capture—are continuously adopting new methods of mayhem. The good guy must upgrade as well if he wants to keep pace—or, even better, stay ahead of the game.
Work With the Right People
Batman seems to spend a lot more time as Batman than he does as Bruce. I’m sure part of the reason is that he feels he has the right people running Wayne Enterprises. If he didn’t, I can’t fathom how he could justify dressing up to go chasing after The Riddler while trying to figure out why one of his production plants is at 40% capacity.
This isn’t just about employees. It means a 360-degree analysis of your suppliers, service providers, and personnel. In this respect, you, the manufacturer, are Batman.
If you are in the pipe-making business, you must “save” your area of the world by making the best pipe fittings available. I mean, imagine if the Batcave sprung a leak due to sub-standard plumbing. We laugh, but I doubt Bruce Wayne waterproofed everything when he built those headquarters.
Internally, training your existing employees allows them to utilize your new technology for better efficiency. Virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) are changing the methods used to train personnel. An employee can go through a simulation of the new improved factory floor without ever having to set foot in it.
It helps with familiarizing oneself with the process and reduces safety incidents or downtime that can prove to be expensive.
Similarly, you may find it easier and less expensive to outsource certain technology needs, such as server management and help desk operations, in order to free up your internal resources to focus on production.
Over the years, the Batmobile has evolved. So much so that the very first model from 1939 looks nothing like the current version, even though it is used by the same Gotham vigilante.
As business and technology evolve, so must your operations. Your processes, your business relationships, and your technology are directly linked to keeping your doors open. Even though you may have other areas that need your attention as well, if you get these three wrong, the rest won’t matter.
At JMARK, we’ll play Lucius Fox to your Batman, providing technology and solutions to ensure that you can focus on heroically producing quality products while we keep the I.T. wheels spinning.
For over 30 years we have been helping manufacturers streamline, save money, and take advantage of Information Technology to achieve their goals. To learn about how we can help you, contact us via our website, email: [email protected] or call us on 844-44-JMARK.