We have seen several changes in manufacturing over the last three hundred years.
The manufacturing industry has made several technological advancements that have improved how products are created, how companies understand their products and how consumers interact with them.
These have generally had four distinctive developments, the mechanisation of manufacturing, assembly lines, programmable logic controller and now we are seeing the Internet of Things making a similar impact on manufacturing.
As the ability of devices to communicate within a global network grows, we are seeing that manufacturers are becoming more connected to their products through the manufacture, distribution and potentially even in after sales care.
As devices become smarter and more intuitive, they have the ability to communicate data back to the manufacturer. This connected data sharing has the capability to make big changes in the relationship between manufacturer, distributor and consumer across several areas.
The product itself will become a customer service provider, supplying information to the manufacturer. This will also mean that customer service operatives who deal with consumers directly will have a clearer picture of issues with an individual unit as it will be feeding data back to them.
Having products that can communicate with one another gives companies the opportunity to optimize their stock levels for individual parts or replacements. This means a better prepared supply chain for repairs or an increased effectiveness in stock levels to save on capital expenditure or space in storage.
This kind of information is not only good for keeping companies educated about how they should be stocking their websites, but is also fantastic for customer service. Nothing is more frustrating than delays in getting a product to a customer due to poorly maintained stock levels in a warehouse.
Quality And R&D
Being able to monitor the performance of a product through data gives a company the best possible insight into how it reacts in the real world. This could see an increase in awareness of potentially problematic areas for a particular product as well as allowing a company to monitor the condition of an individual unit. If a fault develops or if the data indicates that it might in the future, then this would allow the customer to be contacted and the problem could be flagged to them and the product could be serviced.
This would improve the relationship between customer and manufacturer whilst also being able to add additional services to the manufacturer. The ability to not only provide after care, but to pre-empt this would increase the potential sales to an individual. It would also extend the period of sales to an individual, as rather than needing to replace a product and potentially look at alternatives, a manufacturer would be able to extend the life of a product through servicing and provision of replacement parts.