Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of meeting with members of the U.S. Department of Commerce Commercial Services Division to discuss policies that can help develop and promote small and mid-size U.S. manufacturers. But this is an issue that warrants discussion – and action – on a global scale.
As both a manufacturer and a manufacturing solutions provider, Zebra understands the growth challenges that small and mid-size manufacturers face. Our business gives us unique insight into the workings of manufacturing across multiple regions, and we believe that broader government support for pro-technology policies is imperative to help small and mid-sized manufacturers compete effectively in the global marketplace.
Enterprise Internet of Things (IoT) solutions and capabilities like those provided by Zebra enable small and mid-sized manufacturers to reap benefits and operational insights previously only available to large companies, thereby expanding their ability to export and compete overseas. Technologies that you as a consumer probably encounter every day – such as mobile computers or the barcode labels that are prominently featured on airline bag tags, express delivery packages, and pharmaceutical prescription bottles to mobile computing devices – are the very technologies that can give smaller manufacturers a performance edge in a data-driven market. However, action must be taken to remove barriers to adoption.
As we settle into Industry 4.0, manufacturers of all sizes will need to increasingly employ edge-to-edge enterprise IoT-based capabilities to empower workers on the front line to remain productive and agile as market demands evolve. This latest Industrial Revolution is not just applicable to large multi-national manufacturers. IoT technologies, in combination with mobile, barcode, and RFID technologies, can effectively provide small and mid-sized manufacturers with the real-time visibility they need to sustain – and, ultimately, grow – their operations at home and globally. It is the insight delivered by these highly-connected technology architectures that enables manufacturers to make timely, impactful decisions that help ensure safety, maximize efficiency and deliver optimal performance and service. For example, the right technology investments are core to achieving:
- Smarter Factories. Manufacturers can transform plant floors into environments where actionable, real-time insights can be used to both direct the next best action and future-proof ongoing operations.
- Intelligent Fulfillment. Knowing the status of materials, people, tools, and fleets in real time in the factory, on the dock, or in the field helps manufacturers quickly respond to emerging customer needs and changing market conditions.
- Superior Service. Zebra helps manufacturers keep service representatives connected with colleagues, customers, management, and the tools they use to flawlessly deliver for customers while lowering costs per interaction.
That is why Zebra has worked diligently over the last 50 years to develop and deploy specialized technologies capabilities that promote the growth and competitiveness of all manufacturers around the world. With the technologies that Zebra brings to market through our partner ecosystem, small and medium-sized manufacturers will be positioned to make real progress toward an Industry 4.0 architecture in the near term. This will help them stay competitive with larger manufacturers and, in some cases, increase their capabilities as suppliers to larger manufacturers, which will provide an even greater return on investment (ROI). That is why we are strong advocates for collaborative economic progress. Zebra stands ready to work with government and industry leaders around the world to advance pro-manufacturing technology policies as needed. Our hope is that, together, we can ensure fair and widespread accessibility to the IoT-based technologies that will stimulate growth for manufacturers of all sizes and facilitate greater industrial stability.