This article was previously published on the Epicor Shop Floor – you can read the original post here.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution—also called Industry 4.0—is already having a huge impact on the manufacturing industry. It leverages some of the most exciting technologies of today—including big data, artificial intelligence and robotics. Unfortunately, a massive skilled labor shortage in the manufacturing sector is threatening the promise of Industry 4.0. Understanding the ins and outs of the problem will help businesses minimize their impact. Here are four aspects of the skilled labor shortage in manufacturing that are worth evaluating.

1. The Skills Gap In A Skilled Labor Shortage

According to a 2018 Deloitte study, job opportunities in manufacturing have been growing at an impressive double-digit rate since mid-2017.

However, the report warns of a skills gap. Industry 4.0 is creating tech-heavy jobs that are not readily available from current talent pools. Industry 4.0 is creating tech-heavy jobs that are not readily available from current talent pools. This will leave about 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018-2028. Deloitte forecasts the potential economic impact of such a labor shortage in manufacturing to be USD $2.5 trillion.

Worse, it’s not manufacturing alone that needs data scientists and robotics engineers. These jobs are in high demand across a variety of industry sectors—including healthcare, education, and retail.

Companies are training from their existing employee base as one option. But a 2019 Global Human Capital Trends report found that internal mobility still presents a challenge for many enterprises.

2. An Aging Population

The Pew Research Center shared that 10,000 Baby Boomers will turn 65 every day up until the year 2030. The 72 million Boomers currently in the U.S. comprise a little more than a quarter of the population. The aging of this demographic can have a significant effect on the supply of skilled talent.

Even if an impressive number of Boomers are taking up entrepreneurship, they’re still not working in the kinds of jobs that manufacturing companies will be looking to fill.

3. Millennial Must-Haves

Given that Millennials are expected to outnumber Boomers (73 million to 72 million) in the United States this year, they’re the most obvious demographic to lean on for jobs. There’s mixed news on that front with respect to labor retention.

Gallup reported that Millennials are the most likely generation to switch jobs—6 in 10 are open to new opportunities. Other research shows that they’re not any more likely to do so than their predecessors—Gen X. Manufacturing companies can learn from research that shows that Millennials place high emphasis on workplace attitudes and managerial styles over other must-haves. Millennials will job hop even within companies to test out the best fit.

4. A Growing Gig Economy

Workers are now acting as free agents by choice—making freelance work their primary source of income. About 20–30% of the working-age population in the United States and Europe take on some kind of independent work. The gigs either supplement income or are the primary source of revenue.

Such a significant shift can have repercussions on the labor shortage in manufacturing. Employers might have to retool jobs to the freelance or contract model to make opportunities more attractive to the right talent.

As these skilled labor shortage statistics show, the United States needs the right talent to truly ride the next Industrial Revolution to success.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.

 


Just in time manufacturing is a system of manufacturing that refines manufacturing processes, like part making, assembly, and purchasing to their essential scheduling and execution. This is in contrast to what many manufacturers succumb to in planning months in advance and stockpiling to meet projected demand based on forecasts. It revolves around production on an as-needed basis, which minimizes inventory levels and reduces costs.

Essentially, Just in time manufacturing is a system that seeks to keep inventory and work in process low, while keeping deliverability high.

Who Needs Just In Time Manufacturing?

Both the manufacturer and the customer benefit from the implementation of Just in Time Manufacturing principles. For the manufacturer, the system emerges as an effort to cut down on the 7 wastes of manufacturing. Keep time and associated costs tight on every part of the production process for a streamlined experience and a more organized mode of operation.

For the customer, the search is always on for a supplier that can deliver the highest quality product at the lowest cost in the shortest lead time. By achieving superior internal efficiency, the manufacturer delivers on customer satisfaction more easily.

What Makes The Just In Time Manufacturing System

The just in time manufacturing system is based on the Japanese production levelling system known as Heijunka. As such, it can be broken down into three core concepts: Takt Time, Continuous-flow manufacturing, and a Pull system.

Takt Time 

This component of just in time manufacturing represents the rate at which a manufacturer complete parts or products to meet a customer’s demand. Think of the baton an orchestra conductor uses to keep the band in time. In fact, Takt is the German word for a conductor’s baton. Takt time is a production schedule defined by and perfectly in-time with customer demand. You’ll define your takt time in a way that tells you how many parts to produce per minute, e.g. 1 part per 15 minutes, to be in sync with customer demand.

Continuous-Flow

Continuous-flow manufacturing, also known as repetitive-flow manufacturing, moves a single unit through each step of the production process. This is in direct contrast with batch production for discrete manufacturers, which can lead to idle time on production lines. Continuous-flow units run through the line start to finish. There is no room for idle time. Continuous-flow is a kanban concept that requires a persistent examination of processes at a facility. It revolves around improving efficiency at all stages of production.

Ideally, a facility utilizing a continuous-flow manufacturing system will integrate all production processes and strive for an optimally balanced production line. This means minimizing waste, producing at the lowest cost without sacrificing quality, and delivering goods on time.

The Pull System 

A manufacturing pull system is a reactive strategy that reduces waste in the production process. A “pull” system is demand-dependant. Components used in manufacturing processes get replaced when consumed. This is in direct contrast to a “push” system, also generally referred to as Make-to-Stock (MTS) operations. This is where a facility runs as many products through the production process as possible. Replacement ordering takes place at regular intervals, regardless of demand.

By combining these three essential components of Just In Time manufacturing, an organization can operate on much leaner means. Achieving high efficiency and customer satisfaction doesn’t mean a business has to sacrifice quality or have big pockets. For more information on how to refine your manufacturing operations, reach out to Encompass Solutions using the link below.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


How ERP Improves Lean Manufacturing

We should start with a quick definition of lean manufacturing for the uninitiated. Lean manufacturing, also referred to as “lean”, is a commitment to minimizing waste of any kind during the manufacturing process. This includes wasted time, materials, and capital. in total, there are seven sources of waste in lean manufacturing, referred to as the “7 Mudas”. ERP improves lean manufacturing by providing visibility and tools to identify wasteful processes and how your organization can continually improve processes to ensure that waste is eliminated wherever possible. Here are a few examples of how ERP improves lean manufacturing operations.

1. Reduced Transport Waste

This form of waste occurs when goods and materials are moved from one location to another, be it to a staging area, warehouse racks, or shipping docks. These activities utilize machinery, operators, and time to complete operations, all of which cost money. Bringing no added value to the manufacturer or customer, this is a non-revenue generating activity. As such, fewer hours spent in material handling phases of operation means fewer resources wasted. ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by providing tools that enable more intelligent means of production and efficient logistics activities. Scheduling and monitoring capabilities, as well as equipment utilization visibility and inventory tracking, give teams the insight they need to see where resources are being committed and which steps in a process can be expedited or cut out of the equation entirely.

2. Reduced Inventory Waste

If you’re a Make-to-Stock (MTS) or Mixed-Mode manufacturing business, chances are you expect to have a certain level of raw materials and product maintained in inventory. Make-to-Order (MTO) operations, not so much. However, at any level, having raw materials and semi-finished/finished product tied up in inventory means capital is tied up in inventory. Unless you’re stockpiling for a doomsday scenario, too much inventory is a bad sign. ERP systems provide the framework for achieving maximum efficiency, such as with Just-in-Time (JIT) manufacturing. Just as supermarkets have refined the optimal replenishment cycles for produce, so too can manufacturers remove these sub-par production planning and distribution practices to keep production constantly moving. ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by providing tools for forecasting accuracy, historical data for sales and products, setting min/max stock levels, and even allowing for automated reordering directives.

3. Less Motion Waste

Motion waste applies to equipment and personnel and occurs in cases where any type of motion or effort occurs in a process that does not add value. Plant layout is the biggest culprit in contributing to motion waste. This is especially so if it impacts material handling activities due to traffic bottlenecks or excessive wear on machinery like forklifts. While it’s not generally feasible to redesign a production floor without halting production, ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by providing data on machinery utilization and job planning and scheduling on the production floor. With visibility into what processes are taking more time or what machines are working at less-than-optimum efficiency, manufacturers can collaborate with engineers and suppliers to ensure their facilities are achieving maximum efficiency.

 4. Less Time Wasted Waiting

If nothing is happening, time is being wasted. This can be the result of production bottlenecks, machine downtime, production teams not in sync or waiting on decision-critical data. Fortunately, ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by providing teams with one source of data that everyone can rely on and retrieve when necessary. It helps to identify bottlenecks, plan jobs and schedule more efficiently, as well as facilitate decision making with the data needed to execute on mission-critical strategies.

how erp improves lean manufacturing scheduling

5. Avoiding Over-production

The Big One when it comes to the 7 wastes, overproduction contributes to all other forms of waste in lean manufacturing. In short, it means you are making more of a product than consumers require or goods are produced before they are needed, leaving them to sit in inventory. Supply chain management, procurement, and demand planning are both the cause and solution of overproduction. Fortunately, ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by delivering purpose-built tools to enable better supply chain management, automating the procurement process and accurately forecasting demand based on historical data and industry trends.

how erp improves lean manufacturing production

6. Avoiding Over-processing

In the case of over processing, you are putting in work that has no value. For example, on the production floor, you’re painting the inside of a car fender that will never be seen by anyone by a mechanic. This activity adds no value for the customer and serves only to take more valuable time away from your production team. Not to mention, paint ain’t free. Over-processing carries over to your field service and sales teams, too. Time wasted with manual entry can cost you valuable time. It can even cost you a customer if that manual entry results in order errors. Fortunately, ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by automating such processes. You can click a single button and have a quote automatically turned into a Bill of Materials (BOM). Further insights deliver critical information on your production goals and sales KPIs.

7. Avoiding Defects

Defects don’t just waste time and materials, they waste your customers’ time and patience. Going even further, defective products that make it off the shop floor and into those customers’ homes or facilities reduces your industry reputation. For these reasons, defects are a high-priority waste that needs to be tackled. Unfortunately, it’s not always an easy task. ERP improves lean manufacturing in this case by completing checks and aligning production against standards you’ve set in the system. Products and processes that don’t conform raise flags so that your teams can address these instances before they become issues.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider and Epicor Platinum Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Manufacturers and Manufacturing solution providers are eager to learn about what industry leaders and professionals forecast as the 2019 Manufacturing trends to keep a close eye on. NetSuite’s Senior Director for Global Manufacturing Center of Excellence David Gustovich sat down in a recent interview with Hayley Null, NetSuite’s Manufacturing Industry Marketing Lead, to discuss the 2019 Manufacturing Trends he expects to see take root.

This interview was previously published on the Netsuite Blog, here.

2019 Manufacturing Trends

Hayley Null: What do you recommend that manufacturers pay attention to in 2019?

David Gustovich: Based on my research and conversations with our manufacturing customers, there are 3 main trends that will affect manufacturing companies in 2019.

  • State of the art technology becoming more widely accepted
  • Potential slowdown of the global economy
  • Greater adoption of new revenue channels, including servicing

Null: How does the increasing adoption of state-of-the-art technology (i.e. Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Blockchain, the Internet of Things) help manufacturers gain a competitive edge?

Gustovich: As 2019 progresses, more and more companies are going to embrace this advanced functionality than ever before. Next generation technology can be used as a strategic weapon to allow manufacturers, and companies in general, to manage their businesses more profitably and efficiently, increase operating effectiveness, better service customers and create new revenue channels. Specifically, companies can drive more effectiveness in their global supply chain (form order management, procurement, delivery, logistics, distribution, managing partner and outsourcing networks), which is always a top priority for manufacturers. Through better visibility and awareness, these technologies open new doors that weren’t there before.

an image of blockchain technology as one of the predicted 2019 manufacturing trends

Null: How should manufacturers prepare for the risk of a potential global economic slowdown?

Gustovich: To ride some of the turbulent waves of any potential downturn, manufacturers are investing more in customer service and maintaining business continuity. One of the areas manufacturers are investing in specifically is inventory management. Manufacturing companies must ensure they have the correct inventory alignment, meaning not carrying more inventory than they absolutely need, to keep inventory costs low while meeting customer’s expectations. The bottom line is that manufacturers are, or should be, looking at new initiatives that will allow them to come out of a possible slowdown stronger, and maintain or gain a competitive edge against competition.

Null: You mentioned that manufacturers can use technology to create new revenue channels- can you speak a bit more about how manufacturers are creating new revenue channels? 

Gustovich: One of the most prominent ways to diversify revenue channels is through ecommerce, mobile and social media. Manufacturers must fully embrace these platform capabilities as an outlet to drive new revenues (acquire new customers, retain current customers, increase brand recognition) and create new customer experiences (diversify product-line, add after-sales servicing) – or fall behind.

an image illustrating that manufacturers will needs to step up customer experiences as one of the big 2019 manufacturing trends

Null: We’ve been discussing what lies ahead for manufacturers in 2019. Switching gears, were there any big surprises for manufacturers in 2019? 

Gustovich: I would say that the biggest surprise was probably the amount of receptivity and visibility that AI and Blockchain are starting to gain in the marketplace. How accepted these capabilities are becoming is a good barometer of things to come.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm, NetSuite Solution Provider, Suite Success Partner, and Epicor Gold Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


It’s been said that the only thing worse than drinking a warm beverage is watching someone else drink a cold one. This doesn’t have to be a fate you’ll taste any longer thanks to an exciting new twist in beverage packaging technology.

On-Demand Chilled Beverage Packaging Technology

The new technology Chill-Can presents improves the manufacturing ability of such options, making it a viable option for beverage manufacturers. Using liquefied CO2 as the coolant in this Heat Exchange Unit (HEU), this two-piece twist mechanism makes the simple chilling of beverages while on the go a reality. In total, it takes about 80 seconds for the activated product to cool the beverage kept inside its housing. The device can even be shaped for specific applications, be it 8oz, 12oz, 16oz, or any other style of a beverage can.

The device itself weights about 150g grams and will lower the affected beverage’s temperature around 30 degrees. Makers of the Chill-Can, The Joseph Co., currently hold 31 patents that pertain the unique technology, its manufacturing process, and the HEU coatings.

The Chill-Can currently costs consumers an additional $1.50 on top of the cost of the associated beverage, a price point the market has quickly responded to and, according to Joseph, retailers “couldn’t keep them on the shelf.”

Going Beyond Beverage Packaging Technology And Manufacturing

The Chill Can beverage packaging technology has enjoyed a resounding approval from consumers since its debut, but many look forward to applications that benefit humanity beyond quenching thirst on a hot day.

The medical field is one that stands to benefit greatly from this mobile chilling technology. Organs being transported from donors to recipients are an obvious application, but fragile medicines and lab samples that need to be kept cool while in transit are other applications that will likely benefit from this technology as it develops.

The full Packaging Digest article on the Chill-Can and an interview with, chairman/CEO of The Joseph Co. Intl and West Coast Chill, Mitchell Joseph, can be found here.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions, Inc. is an ERP consulting firm and Epicor Platinum Partner that offers professional services in business consulting, project management, and software implementation. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems or addressing the emerging challenges in corporate and operational growth, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. As experts in identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


As if the news of US-imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum didn’t upset a large enough portion of beverage manufacturers already, the most recent developments in US-China trade have left winemakers, along with US-based manufacturers of 127 other products, with a sour taste in their mouths.

Earlier this year, the White House sought to enact tariffs on countries it had described as taking advantage of the US trade policy for some time. In an effort to revitalize US-based metals manufacturing, the order to formally enact tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, as high as 25 percent and 10 percent respectively, was signed last month.

A photo of a metal foundry at night, one of the largest industries affected by US-China Trade.

The Order To Formally Enact Tariffs On Steel And Aluminum Imports, As High As 25 Percent And 10 Percent Respectively, Was Signed Last Month.

The move will ideally lead to an injection of investment and job growth in the sector, according to supporters of the decision.

Food and Beverage Manufacturers Believe Things Will Get Worse Before Getting Better

Consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers, on the other hand, have voiced serious concerns over the expected rise in costs and job losses resulting from the tariffs. Campbell Soup, Craft Heinz, Coca-Cola, and AB-InBev are among the largest companies broadcasting dire predictions. The craft beer industry, which has seen tremendous growth in the US over the last five years, is also expected to suffer serious ramifications to canning and racking operations. non-alcoholic beverage manufacturers, who have been enjoying a marked increase in popularity over the last several years, will no doubt be adversely affected by the imposed tariffs. It remains to be seen how the policy will affect the future of such niches.

US-China Trade Siphoning Beer’s Bottom Line

To begin, higher packaging prices are sure to increase prices for consumers; however, the impact could reach well beyond higher costs in the grocery aisle. According to Jim McGreevy, Beer Institute President and CEO, “this 10% tariff will create a new $347.7 million tax on America’s beverage industry, including brewers and beer importers, and result in the loss of 20,291 American jobs.”  A frightening prospect, especially for those small and medium enterprises struggling to make their way in the craft brewing sector.

an image of canned beverages, signifying the aluminum industry, one industry affected by US-China Trade.

Beverage Manufacturers And Packaging Operations Will Be Significantly Affected By Aluminum and Steel Tariffs.

58 percent of the 2.1 million tons of tinplate used in the US last year, an insufficient amount of which is produced in the U.S according to a Campbell Soup representative, was produced in the US. CPG manufacturers will likely end up paying 10 percent to 25 percent more on the remaining 42 percent being imported because of the new tariffs.

While large food and beverage manufacturers will be able to offset the increase in costs through consumers, distributors, and retailers, smaller operations will bear the brunt of the import taxes, making growth amid volatility the latest of many challenges.

Winemakers Feeling The Squeeze Of US-China Trade

The latest response from China places the US wine industry in a position to bear substantial impact in the back and forth between the world’s two largest economies. All this comes following the announcement earlier this year of reduced excise taxes on winemakers, distillers, and brewers that had these small and medium enterprises especially optimistic about the future of their operations.

A picture of barrels in the wine cellar, one industry affected by US-China Trade.

Wine Inventory Is Sitting In Warehouses Across The Country, Waiting For Some Resolution To The State Of US-China Trade.

The new tariffs for wine can reach just as high as those imposed on imported steel by the US, 25 percent. As a result, inventory is sitting in warehouses across the country, waiting for some resolution to a spat that will have an impact that reaches farther than the vineyard. While wine exports to China account for roughly 5% of the market, or around $79m, winemakers are keeping a close eye on developments. Wine consumption in China has increased by 500% since 2000 and shows no signs of slowing down. This is further impacted by the dry spell of sorghum-based Maotai, the country’s most popular spirit.

In Napa Valley, Chinese wine tourists make up the majority of visitors, as well, with 20% of guided tours being booked in Mandarin. The figure will no doubt also be impacted by fewer Chinese wine drinkers being exposed to the varieties produced by US growers and winemakers. In a landscape dominated by French wines for decades, American wines had been in a state of perpetual grind to break into the Chinese market. Now, with the headway made over the last two decades threated by a potential 25 percent import tax, inroads made into the Chinese wine market run the risk of drying up.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


A new industrial revolution, Industry 4.0, is blending automation and data exchange in ways that have never been possible before. The change has strengthened the concept of a “smart factory” that integrates cyber-physical systems, the Internet of things, cloud computing, and cognitive computing to create an increasingly cooperative relationship between man and machine throughout the manufacturing process.

An image of interconnecting beams of light superimposed over a city a night meant to symbolize the connections of devices in industry 4.0.

Industry 4.0 Connects Cyber-physical Systems To Blend Automation And Data Exchange In Ways That Have Never Been Possible Before.

Some fantastic developments regarding the future of employment in this new landscape were revealed in a report released last week by the Association of Advancing Automation (A3). The document detailed how interconnectivity, automation and, more specifically, robots work to create increasingly valuable and necessary work roles. Keep reading to find out how the skills gap is being addressed at home and abroad and how worker wages figure into the equation.

Automation: Replacing The Mundane With The Mechatronic

As advancements in automation and robotics reach a new zenith, individuals and organizations can more effectively and affordably integrate these mechatronic marvels into their manufacturing processes. Able to complete simple tasks with a high degree of quality, these robots enable the current manufacturing workforce, and those entering the field, to approach more complex and demanding roles in the workplace. As a result, new approaches to training and education are required to prepare workers in how best to leverage these technologies and improve productivity. The same is true not just for manufacturing but an array of industries, including hospitality, transportation, and healthcare.

a picture of Disney robot character wall-e holding up a plant in one hand. industry Automation in industry 4.0 brings robots into manufacturing like never before.

The New Wave Of Automation Robotics Will Come Bearing Gifts.

New Careers For An Existing Workforce

The results of automation are far from the sound bites and headlines predicting an end to the job market as we know it. In a sense it’s true, but hardly from a negative standpoint. While automation does eat up the roles charged with repetitive and simple tasks, it enables the workforce to take on more complex responsibilities that lead to further productivity and profitability. A poignant example with a focus on banking was offered at last week’s A3 conference.

A picture of a technician with clipboard inspecting equipment. industry 4.0 presents opportunities for more specialized jobs and more sustainable job growth.

Automation And Robotics Will Give Rise To New Careers And Employment Opportunities.

With the arrival of the ATM, many people thought the role of the bank teller would go the way of the dodo. Long story short: it did not. The number of bank tellers fell by about a third. This presented banks with the opportunity to open more branches, approximately 40% more during that time, with the money saved by allowing machines take over the mundane cash-handling roles. More employees were then hired to fulfill more intellectually-demanding careers, such as relationship banking and credit and finance management. With these new roles came the need for more advanced training to adequately prepare the workforce to fill such positions.

Education, Certification, And Resurrection Of The Apprenticeship

As the number of opportunities in new careers grows because of increased automation, advances in educating and certifying a more talented workforce need to take place.

Based on data from the OECD, the National Bureau of Statistics of China and the University Grants Commission of India, Germany, India, and China have produced the greatest human investment in STEM fields over the last 15 years, with graduates in these sectors rising 170, 110, and 150 percent respectively. The US and South Korea have only increased their number of graduates by 40 and 20 percent in the same timeframe. Japan has foundered and seen a 10 percent reduction in STEM degrees. The top performers have been pushing STEM efforts beginning at the K-12 level, while additionally enhancing vocational training courses, and strengthening community college and university offerings that are attractive to employers in the manufacturing sector.

A picture of an engineer training an apprentice. industry 4.0 gives more room for advancement in manufacturing as menial tasks can be assumed by robots.

Employers Have Been Addressing The Talent Gap By Building From Within Through Apprenticeships And On-The-Job Training.

According to the Global Manufacturing Competitiveness Index, executives across the board agree that the biggest hurdle in advancing their operations in manufacturing is talent. It is estimated that 60% of critical positions in manufacturing remain unfilled. Beyond lack of qualified individuals, the time it takes to recruit, interview, and bring hires up to speed in the workplace can take as long as three months for engineering and research positions and two months for skilled production workers.

Employers have been addressing the hurdle by building from within through apprenticeships and on-the-job training. University isn’t appealing to or even practical for everybody, but with quality educational resources at their disposal, employees who find themselves with just a high-school degree can receive relevant, high-level training while at work or be compensated for continuing their education through external institutions. For example, Amazon has created its Career Choice program for hourly employees. Designed to give workers the opportunity to learn skills for in-demand jobs, the program pays for 95% of tuition costs towards robotics, computer science, engineering, and IT courses. Amazon even offers on-site classrooms to make the learning process as convenient as possible for participants. Programs like these make the benefits of automation clear: with labor freed and profits increased, companies can invest in their workforces to scale competently with growth.

Industry 4.0: Competition Breeds Opportunity For Workers

Beyond the opportunities for advancing education, compensation packages have steadily increased for talented workers in manufacturing. From back office to the shop floor, these employees can demand elite-level paychecks with benefits to boot.  According to the National Association of Manufacturers, entry-level positions in manufacturing begin at $20 an hour with the total compensation for manufacturing jobs reaching an average of $81,000 including benefits, compared to the average of $63,000 for all nonfarm workers.

a picture of a man in a suit climbing a staircase into the sky. industry 4.0 will play a large part in how factory workers become more specialized and advance their careers.

Automation Has Paved The Way For More Rewarding Positions And Opportunities Beyond The Assembly Line.

Perhaps it has been true in the past that the world’s manufacturing personnel feared robots would take over the shop floor to the detriment of a human workforce. However, the data reveals they’ve only paved the way for more rewarding positions and opportunities beyond the assembly line.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


in Industry 4.0, Manufacturers and distributors have access to data on a scale that has never existed before. The two are leveraging the insights gleaned from that access to pursue new innovations in automation and systems that are reshaping the face of these industries. Pairing innovations like these with a robust ERP solution is the most effective way to ensure your business is prepared to address emerging technology trends that can reshape your industry overnight. Learn more about emerging technologies in manufacturing and Industry 4.0 to remain to be the competition, rather than simply competitive.

Industry 4.0

First, there was industry 1.0, the emergence of mechanization, as well as water-, steam-, and fossil fuel-powered systems. This was followed by mass production of goods, assembly line manufacturing, and electricity powering it all in Industry 2.0. With 3.0 came computers and automation using robotics. Today, we’ve reached the next milestone in revolutionizing Industry. Connecting established trends and emerging technologies between automation and data exchange in manufacturing is Industry 4.0. Also referred to as the fourth industrial revolution, it is focused on bringing cyber-physical systems into the mainstream and placing them at the forefront of the manufacturing industry.

The first Industry 4.0 conference was held last week by Troy, Michigan-based Automation Alley (AA), a non-profit tech and manufacturing business association that connects industry, academia, and government to accelerate innovation in manufacturing. During the conference, a report outlining what AA and industry experts see as the next wave of industry tech to influence innovation emerged. In the report, a roadmap outlined several core technologies that professionals and researchers agree will direct the trajectory of manufacturing in the coming years.

Noting the biggest challenge of innovation on the manufacturing floor as supply-side participants being able to keep up, executive director of Automation Alley Tom Kelly remained optimistic, stating, “The world (of manufacturing) is changing so fast, we can’t assume any company really knows where it’s headed. But based on what’s possible, we hope to help them turn this into action instead of stagnation.” Industry 5.0 has already appeared on the horizon with technologies that are only now being conceptualized and brought into existence.

 

a picture of a welder at work welding part of a steel frame structure

New Manufacturing Technologies And The Next Industrial Revolution Are Here

 

The full report on AA’s research into industry 4.0 will be released in April 2018 for those who were unable to attend last week’s conference centered on deconstructing the “siloed thinking” of manufacturing in its current state and nurturing the “smart factory” megatrend of connecting machines, workers, and factory systems through the internet and cloud computing.

The Industrial Internet Of Things

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) utilized relevant information and completes essential tasks through smartphones, tablets, and other edge devices. Businesses can use this performance data in real-time to adapt and change their operations into a more streamlined process internally and externally for both short-term and long-term gains. This superior connectivity facilitates faster response times from all departments and brings with it improved agility for operations of every size.

An image displaying introducing Industry 4.0 technologies.

Emerging Technologies Are Ushering In A New Industrial Revolution – Industry 4.0

 

Robotics

As robots become smarter, cheaper, and more efficient in their roles on the factory floor, these entities will command a greater presence in shaping the manufacturing industry. Advances in robotics technology allow these machines to take on more complex traits, including machine learning, heightened dexterity, memory, and the ability to collaborate more effectively. As a result, robots will usher in a new set of standards that every manufacturer will need to adopt to remain relevant.

An image displaying how Robotics and root systems are a significant component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Advances In Robotics Means Smarter, More Agile, And More Efficient Robots.

Artificial Intelligence

Commonly the subject of doomsday scenario horror films, AI is nothing to discount as the stuff of science fiction gone wrong. The technology is already in our daily lives in the form of self-driving cars and industrial robotics. In manufacturing applications, the technology will become the new standard by which large sets of data are analyzed and predictive maintenance is undergone. In short, companies will have no choice but to “go digital” in order to survive.

An image a personal robot as part of Industry 4.0 technologies.

The Next Generation Of Artificial Intelligence Will Work side By Side With Humans On The Shop Floor.

Big Data

The means by which we capture data and store it is changing by the day. The even more complex and daunting tasks are how to sift through it and how to identify the relevant bits for different applications. New standards in search, sharing, transfer, visualization, querying, updating and information privacy are emerging as a result. To keep up with the data, rather than being mired in it, manufacturers will need to adopt more robust technologies than traditional data processing software, which is where specialized ERP solutions give your business the critical edge it needs to succeed. Robotic Process Automation (RPA) is one more example of how automation technologies are increasing productivity and how we manage data in the manufacturing environment.

An image displaying how Big Data systems are a significant component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

With More Data To Store And Sift Through, It Will Become Increasingly Necessary For Powerful Tools To Assist In Making Sense Of It All.

The Cloud

In many circles, the cloud is considered a four-letter word. The technology is new and traditional operators across industries are skeptical of its intangible nature. It is not maintained locally and can’t be monitored, stored or secured using traditional methods. That being said, Cloud-based technology is how the companies of the future will operate as it allows in-house users and remote workforces to collaborate in real-time more effectively than with traditional data systems. The cloud approach is faster, improves manageability, and reduces maintenance.

An image displaying how cloud computing and cloud technology systems are a big component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Data Stored Digitally Can Be Utilized And Amended At A Moment’s Notice.

Cybersecurity

As more and more operations move toward cloud-based solutions and rely more heavily on a robotic workforce, maintaining the security and integrity of these systems becomes a much larger issue. In fact, cybersecurity in the manufacturing sector is listed as the highest priority of the National Association of Manufacturers. Industrial control systems are among the most sensitive targets, which is the class of computers that help to manage the shop floor. As more manufacturers simultaneously build and integrate their systems through the industrial Internet of Things, more opportunities for threats emerge.

An image displaying how cyber security systems are a big component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Cybersecurity Will be One Of The Most Crucial Concepts To Address As New Innovations Bring Change To The Manufacturing Industry.

Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing

An emerging advanced manufacturing technology, you might know Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing by the more common name of 3D printing. A process that used to take weeks to accomplish on a small scale, 3D printing can know construct large and complex structures, like housing, in less than a day. Organic compounds, custom plastics, and a host of other materials can be utilized in the process, harmonizing product and nature through innovation.

An image displaying how additive manufacturing and 3D printing systems are a big component of Industry 4.0 technologies.

Advanced Materials And Additive Manufacturing Utilizes 3D Printers For Projects Large And Small.

Modeling, Simulation, Visualization, And Immersion

Analyzing, manipulating, and leveraging data is essential when it comes to making decisions on the future of any business. With new forms of visualization, simulation, and interaction available at the press of a button, businesses can leverage the latest technology to more effectively review, report, and forecast using their data. 3D visualization, virtual reality, and immersion tools are just a few of the innovations available to a host of businesses that rely on massive amounts of data daily, including manufacturing, healthcare, sciences, finance, and energy. Beyond data, these innovations and associated tools help develop tech and lead teams to greater success rates with more thorough and effective preparation for mission-critical tasks.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


How Bezlio Adds Predictive Analytics And Machine Learning To ERP

I’ve always been passionate about bringing new technology to companies to help them be more competitive. An exciting emerging technology that’s got the IT/IS crowd buzzing right now is using machine learning to allow for smarter data analyzation. Companies spend a significant amount of money generating data compared to analyzing it. With the technology Bezlio is built on, we allow companies to take emerging technologies, like predictive analytics and machine learning, as they become available and leverage it regardless of the back-end system.

machine learning and predictive analytics with bezlio and epicor erp

In a recent technology article, Forbes tells us that Machine Learning is the ability for computer programs to analyze big data, extract information automatically, and learn from it. 

We are able to run Epicor ERP along with Bezlio to utilize machine learning and predictive analytics. Bezlio’s plugin architecture means that the source data can be from anything, along with a plugin available in Bezlio that utilizes the Accord.NET Framework, a very popular machine learning library.

To get to the golden Promised Land of machine learning, however, we must first walk the dark path of statistics. Seriously though: Most of the machine learning concepts were derived from past statistical analytic techniques. Even applying some simple statistics can be used with ERP data to gain better insights. I have always liked statistics because it takes the gut out of gut decisions based on incomplete data.

To learn more about Bezlio please visit the website.

To read the original blog entry including multimedia and technical details, please click here.

During the 2017 Bezlio Mainspring Developer Conference, Brian Ellis spoke about the subject of predictive analytics and machine learning as it relates to using it with Bezlio and any ERP or CRM.

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.


Is your reading list looking a little thin these days? Haha, right, sure: as if there were enough hours in the day and days in the week to read every book you needed, let alone wanted to read. We put in our best efforts but the list grows and grows and nothing is quite so frustrating as realizing a few chapters in (or, heaven forbid, at the very end) that the book you’re working on is Just Not That Good. Here’s some good news for you: We’ve got a list of the top 10 manufacturing technology books that are definitely worth adding to the top of your list. If you have any role in the manufacturing technology sector, are wanting to improve performance in any business, or even do a little bit of personal organization, you’ll find great advice and information in any of these.

Are you looking to continually improve processes and cut down on wasted resources like time and money, whether it be in the back office or factory floor? Get in touch with the expert analysts and consultants at Encompass Solutions today.

Here Are those Which We Believe Make The List Of Top 10 Manufacturing Technology Books

top 10 manufacturing technology books

Toyota Production System by Taiichi Ohno

In this classic text, Taiichi Ohno–inventor of the Toyota Production System and Lean manufacturing–shares the genius that sets him apart as one of the most disciplined and creative thinkers of our time. Combining his candid insights with a rigorous analysis of Toyota’s attempts at Lean production, Ohno’s book explains how Lean principles can improve any production endeavor. A historical and philosophical description of just-in-time and Lean manufacturing, this work is a must-read for all students of human progress. . .

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Built To Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Drawing upon a six-year research project at the Stanford University Graduate School of Business, James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras took eighteen truly exceptional and long-lasting companies and studied each in direct comparison to one of its top competitors. They examined the companies from their very beginnings to the present day — as start-ups, as midsize companies, and as large corporations. Throughout, the authors asked: “What makes the truly exceptional companies different from the comparison companies and what were the common practices these enduringly great companies followed throughout their history?” (Amazon.com -2015)

 

Good To Great  by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras

Built to Last, the defining management study of the nineties, showed how great companies triumph over time and how long-term sustained performance can be engineered into the DNA of an enterprise from the very beginning.  But what about the company that is not born with great DNA? How can good companies, mediocre companies, even bad companies achieve enduring greatness?

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Give and Take by Adam M. Grant

Named one of the best books of 2013 by Amazon, the Financial Times, and The Wall Street Journal as well as one of Oprah’s riveting reads, Fortune‘s must-read business books, and the Washington Post‘s books every leader should read. For generations, we have focused on the individual drivers of success: passion, hard work, talent, and luck. But today, success is increasingly dependent on how we interact with others. It turns out that at work, most people operate as either takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Dealing With Darwin by Geoffrey A. Moore

The Darwinian struggle of business keeps getting more brutal as competitive advantage gaps get narrower and narrower. Anything you invent today will soon be copied by someone else—probably better and cheaper.

Many companies thrive during the early stages of their life cycle, only to fall slack during periods of inertia and die out while others surge ahead. But as Geoffrey Moore shows, some notable companies have figured out how to deal with Darwin in their mature years—making changes on the fly while fending off challenges from every quarter.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

The Outsiders by William N. Thorndike

“An outstanding book about CEOs who excelled at capital allocation.” — Warren Buffett

. . .
Named one of “19 Books Billionaire Charlie Munger Thinks You Should Read” in Business Insider.

“A book that details the extraordinary success of CEOs who took a radically different approach to corporate management.” — Charlie Munger, Vice-Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Corporation

“Thorndike explores the importance of thoughtful capital allocation through the stories of eight successful CEOs. A good read for any business leader but especially those willing to chart their own course.” — Michael Dell, chairman of the board of directors and chief executive officer of Dell. 

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Anti-Patterns  by Brown, Malveau, McCormick, and Mowbray

Are you headed into the software development minefield? Follow someone if you can, but if you’re on your own-better get the map! AntiPatterns is the map. This book helps you navigate through today’s dangerous software development projects. . . .

While patterns help you to identify and implement procedures, designs, and codes that work, AntiPatterns do the exact opposite; they let you zero-in on the development detonators, architectural tripwires, and personality booby traps that can spell doom for your project. Written by an all-star team of object-oriented systems developers, AntiPatterns identifies 40 of the most common AntiPatterns in the areas of software development, architecture, and project management. The authors then show you how to detect and defuse AntiPatterns as well as supply refactored solutions for each AntiPattern presented.

 (Amazon.com – 2015)

 

The Lean Startup by Eric Reis

Most startups fail. But many of those failures are preventable.  The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

Eric Ries defines a startup as an organization dedicated to creating something new under conditions of extreme uncertainty. This is just as true for one person in a garage or a group of seasoned professionals in a Fortune 500 boardroom. What they have in common is a mission to penetrate that fog of uncertainty to discover a successful path to a sustainable business.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

Yes, And by Kelly Leonard and Tom Yorton

Executives from The Second City—the world’s premier comedy theater and school of improvisation—reveal improvisational techniques that can help any organization develop innovators, encourage adaptable leaders, and build transformational businesses.

For more than fifty years, The Second City comedy theater in Chicago has been a training ground for some of the best comic minds in the industry—including John Belushi, Bill Murray, Gilda Radner, Mike Myers, Steve Carell, Stephen Colbert, and Tina Fey. But it also provides one-of-a-kind leadership training to cutting-edge companies, nonprofits, and public sector organizations—all aimed at increasing creativity, collaboration, and teamwork.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

 

You Are Not So Smart by David McRaney

An entertaining illumination of the stupid beliefs that make us feel wise, based on the popular blog of the same name.

Whether you’re deciding which smartphone to purchase or which politician to believe, you think you are a rational being whose every decision is based on cool, detached logic. But here’s the truth: You are not so smart. You’re just as deluded as the rest of us—but that’s okay, because being deluded is part of being human.

(Amazon.com – 2015)

About Encompass Solutions

Encompass Solutions is a business and software consulting firm that specializes in ERP systems, EDI, and Managed Services support for Manufacturers and Distributors. Serving small and medium-sized businesses since 2001, Encompass modernizes operations and automates processes for hundreds of customers across the globe. Whether undertaking full-scale implementation, integration, and renovation of existing systems, Encompass provides a specialized approach to every client’s needs. By identifying customer requirements and addressing them with the right solutions, we ensure our clients are equipped to match the pace of Industry.