Manufacturing In Dire Need Of Transformation

Industry 4.0 gives Africa a huge opportunity to become more productive, more globally competitive, and an opportunity to integrate into a global community

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Manufacturing finds itself in dire need of technological advances.

It is time African-based manufacturers took a deliberate leap to raise their standard to increase the efficiency of their enterprise operations through the comprehensive uptake of innovative technologies. To achieve improved quality control in the entire supply chain, consequently shifting the status quo of the sector.

Mucai Kunyiha, Chairman, Kenya Association of Manufacturers, delivered his keynote during the premier East Africa Industry 4.0 Forum. In it, the Chairman said,  “We are living in the times of COVID which has become the great background on which we are doing everything. However, we should remember that there was a time before COVID – a time which a lot was going on involving industry 4.0.”

Noting that industry 4.0 was a significant buzzword circulating not just in Kenya, but was a global phenomenon in competitor markets, the new Chair asserted that steady transformation would be partly driven by digitisation.

While discussing the rising prevalence of technology within the industrial realm during the forum themed, Transforming the Manufacturing Value Chain, Kunyiha pointed out these revolutionary capabilities can lead industrialists to yield high-quality outputs.

Digitisation, otherwise known as Industry 4.0 within the manufacturing sector, emerges as the most profound and disruptive phenomenon in the world of business today, said the Chairman, asserting that increased reliance on automation should render industries the efficiency they require to deliver.

Smart machines have an immense capacity to compile, maintain, and record a staggering amount of data, in which the average human mind is incapable of processing. Besides, Industry 4.0 allows manufacturers to optimise their operations by pinpointing and prioritising the precise business components demanding attention.

According to Kunyiha, although so much still lies ahead, an astounding number of frontrunners in the manufacturing industry are presently adopting Industrial IoT (IIoT) solutions. It is enabling them to employ smart sensors and actuators to simplify the manufacturing process and achieve quicker, more accurate results.

“The Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and more, are already coming into the market to affect the competitiveness of manufacturers in what they would be doing. The IIoT will help us to make better decisions, give better information and necessitate more productivity.”

What are the challenges

Kunyiha, who is also the CEO of Cooper (K) Brands, said among the challenges Africa is facing is our productivity. So when March came along this year, and COVID struck, it became the pandemic of our generation. That has had an enormous impact not just on manufacturing but on all sectors of the economy.

“The biggest challenge in manufacturing space is that people cannot manufacture remotely. We have to go into a factory, get materials and transform them into something else. That has been a huge challenge as we have restrictions on lockdown, restrictions on curfew and movement,” said the Chair as he pointed out on the inherent problems within the sector.

In such times of volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) within the manufacturing industry, we certainly shall need to be adaptable, because that is going to be the critical thing that separates the successful businesses. Those who may not be successful, may fail because they could not adapt to the continuously changing circumstances, said Kunyiha, adding that some futurists have opined some of these major shocks were predicted.

While there might have been a low probability before, Kunyiha said they are beginning to happen. Still, we need to start preparing our businesses for unpredictable events to become adaptable by using available technology.

The forum, meticulously designed to accommodate industrialists with an extensive technical knowledge, hosted an estimated 200 guests in an inspiring five-hour session that inspired manufacturers to appreciate the need to acquire digital solutions for their business operations.

Industry 4.0 is a huge opportunity that will help Africa become more productive, and it allows Kenya, East Africa and Africa become far more globally competitive. Which, in turn, helps integrate us into a global community and start making more of the things the world needs while exporting through our economy, Kunyiha concluded.

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