The Factory of the Future

The Factory of the Future

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The Factory of the Future

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    BCG has applied the insights from the study to develop an implementation roadmap for the factory of the future. (See Exhibit 6.) Each manufacturer must tailor the roadmap to its specific starting point. In most cases, manufacturers should focus on plant digitization in the short to medium term, so as to avoid falling behind competitors that are already implementing use cases for digitization. Changes to the plant structure should be pursued in the medium to long term, because these modifications affect all equipment and the plant layout. Such changes are typically undertaken at the same time that plants are overhauled or new product models are launched. For plant processes, manufacturers should continuously implement new technologies to improve processes and customer satisfaction as an extension of their current lean management agenda. Manufacturers should immediately launch efforts to put in place the foundational enablers, because training current employees and hiring new ones, as well as installing an IT infrastructure, are time-consuming efforts.


    To help manufacturers customize the implementation roadmap, BCG has developed a “health check,” which quickly assesses the current state of a company’s implementation efforts. The results are then benchmarked against other plants, the industry average, or peer groups to determine the starting point.

    To understand how to address the points identified in the health check, company executives and staff can participate in workshops on and demonstrations of advanced technologies at the model factories operated by BCG’s Innovation Center for Operations (ICO). To identify use cases for examination, companies can apply filters to BCG’s database of more than 200 examples of factory-of-the-future applications, sorting by applicability to specific industries as well as by the plant dimension or plant shop. ICO experts then discuss use case applications in detail with a company’s plant team and evaluate a list of potential technology vendors to identify the opportunities, assess the expected financial and nonfinancial benefits, and quantify the related implementation costs and required investment.

    As the many examples presented in this report illustrate, manufacturers are already working with bits and pieces of our vision for the factory of the future. However, achieving this vision will require much more than isolated implementations of discrete use cases. Through the holistic application of new design principles and digital technologies, leading manufacturers can intelligently coordinate all aspects of their plant operations and integrate the value chain that runs from suppliers to end customers. The first manufacturers to succeed in transitioning to full-scale adoption will usher in a new era of industrial operations.