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Chart the Right Course for your Business in the Era of Manufacturing 4.0

Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council is the world’s first member-driven, global business leadership network dedicated to senior executives in the manufacturing industry. The Manufacturing Leadership Council’s mission is to help senior executives define and shape a better future for themselves, their organizations, and the industry at large by focusing on the intersection of critical business and technology issues that will drive growth today and in the future. The Council offers an extensive portfolio of leadership networking, research, thought leadership content, and professional development products, programs, and services — including the Manufacturing Leadership Community Website, an online global business network with over 7,000 members around the world.

Only the ML Council Provides the ability to:



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Member Snapshot

Critical Issues 2017/2018

Guiding Theme: The Journey to Manufacturing 4.0

The global manufacturing industry is at a pivotal point in its history. Driven by competitive pressures to become more agile, innovative, and cost effective, and a surge in the use of advanced digital and analytical technologies, manufacturing companies around the world are now pursuing a future vision for their businesses that will transform the rules of competition, how work will be performed, how companies will be organized, and how leadership must lead. We term this future state: Manufacturing 4.0.

The seven critical issues for 2017/2018, and their key areas of focus, are the following:

Factories of the Future
  • Migration paths, road maps, maturity models, and frameworks to help companies move along their journey to Manufacturing 4.0, from current production models to a future state.
  • End-to-end digitization and analysis of manufacturing and engineering processes and functions.
  • Front line examples of agile and modular production models that deliver on the promise of Manufacturing 4.0.
Manufacturing Enterprise Innovation
  • Best practice approaches that focus on how, why, and where Manufacturing 4.0 technologies can help change the process of innovation to help manufacturers deliver innovative ideas and improvements faster than ever before across the enterprise – from the plant floor, to the supply chain, to new products and services.
  • Collaborative innovation approaches that leverage the ideas and development resources of employees, suppliers, external partners, customers, academia, and ‘the crowd’ to create new products and improve business processes.
  • How manufacturing can play an active role in product and business model innovation to ultimately deliver both competitive advantage and enhanced customer experience.
The Collaborative Manufacturing Enterprise
  • How manufacturing fits into collaborative, end-to-end, enterprise-wide value chains that unify the company’s overall mission and key activities.
  • Digital threads that constantly connect and inform all functions of the enterprise.
  • Cross-functional processes and organizational structures that harness multiple areas of expertise to make faster and better decisions, reduce time to market, and enhance competitive agility.
Transformative Technologies in Manufacturing
  • The latest developments in the Internet of Things, 3D printing, advanced analytics, modelling and simulation, AI & machine learning, collaborative robotics, augmented and virtual realities, and other emerging new technologies.
  • Best practice approaches for selecting, cost justifying, and deploying disruptive new M4.0 technologies in a manufacturing enterprise.
  • Strategies for encouraging and implementing standards and architectures that support open, interoperable systems.
Next-Generation Manufacturing Leadership and the Changing Workforce
  • Effective leadership role models, behaviors, and mindsets that best support the company’s journey to Manufacturing 4.0.
  • Employee transition, development, and engagement strategies for a multi-generational, multi-cultural, multinational workforce.
  • Identifying, attracting, and encouraging new talent and skills for tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce, including best practices for collaborating with educational and community organizations.
Manufacturing 4.0 Sustainability
  • Design products for easier reuse, remanufacture, refurbishment, or recycling at end of life.
  • Manufacturing 4.0 production strategies that streamline production processes to increase efficiency, reduce costs and waste, and ensure all resources, products, components, energy, and materials are kept at their highest utility and value at all times.
  • Holistic, sustainable manufacturing business models, supported by collaborative cross-sector partnerships and deeper community engagement, that help create a more regenerative, industry-wide, M4.0-driven, cost-effective, circular manufacturing economy.
Cybersecurity in Manufacturing
  • Potential points of cyber vulnerability and prevention to help secure manufacturing operations, IoT networks, smart products, and the supply chain.
  • Bridging the gap between IT and Operations to coordinate and improve manufacturing enterprise cybersecurity strategies.
  • Cybersecurity best practice policies, training, behaviors and education, including an understanding of the global cybersecurity regulatory environment.

How We Develop Manufacturing Leadership’s Focus for the Year Ahead

Every year the Manufacturing Leadership Council and its Board of Governors votes on a set of unique Critical Issues to set the foundation for the year ahead.

Through a series of surveys and interviews conducted by the Council’s Editorial team, members of the Council provide direct feedback on the topics, challenges, and opportunities that they face on a day to day basis.

This data is analyzed, vetted, and presented to both the Council and Board who vote on the most relevant areas of interest, thereby setting the Agenda for the year.

This member-driven Agenda is leveraged to structure the upcoming year’s research (ML Journal), live events (Plant Tours and Summit), and virtual events (Critical Issues Roundtables and Decision Compass calls).

Setting the Critical Issues Agenda is one of the key roles of the Manufacturing Leadership Council and Board of Governors.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council Provides

The Council is comprised of the most innovative and insightful executives from all disciplines of manufacturing. The value members derive from these conversations they have with fellow members lead to both meaningful professional and personal relationships.

Manufacturing Leadership Summit & Awards
The Council’s premier event for manufacturing executives that offers a unique blend of senior-level content, interactive discussions and networking that focuses on redefining the business and industry at large.

Annual Manufacturing Leadership Council Meeting
This cornerstone event serves as the kickoff to the Manufacturing Leadership Summit. Council Members congregate to vote on the Critical Issues Agenda, network amongst each other, and share best practices and insights across the manufacturing spectrum.

Quarterly Plant Tours
Spend a day networking with like-minded peers while having the opportunity to tour other manufacturing facilities and operations. All tours provide a roundtable discussion on a Critical Issue and are followed by a networking dinner.

The Council provides insights on the most important manufacturing business and technology developments and trends – including the Council’s “Critical Issues” — to help executives stay ahead of the curve.

The Manufacturing Leadership Journal
Seen as the “Harvard Business Review” for the manufacturing industry, the Manufacturing Leadership Journal contains Senior-level insights, case studies with leading companies and in-depth executive interviews with Council Members. The journal is available online and through an app.

Critical Issues Research Reports and Executive Surveys
These research studies combined with executive surveys give a barometric reading of important trends in manufacturing with a multi-dimensional view, including organization and leadership dimensions of a major Critical Issue that the Council Members have voted on as vital to address. These reports will allow you to assess where your organizations are by comparison and benchmark against a group of senior manufacturing leaders working in collaboration to address these issues.

Whether the subject is the Internet of Things, smart products, operational flexibility, or Big Data; the focus of Council meetings and discussions is on how to improve and advance business disciplines based on member insights, best practices, and research.

Critical Issues Roundtables
These bi-monthly, hour long virtual sessions focus on the aforementioned Critical Issues. Throughout the hour, based on the selected topic, members are privy to best practice, proven processes, and frameworks that they can take away and present to their own organization. These key takeaways are seen as invaluable and all roundtables hosted on an open and secure line, ensuring that information shared is trusted and confidential.

Decision Compass Groups
Otherwise known as “working groups,” these sessions are facilitated by expert member networking groups based on critical focus areas. Groups meet online, via teleconference calls to discuss best practices at their respective organizations. All discussions are confidential. Examples of these working groups include Operational Excellence, Digital M4.0 Technologies, Workforce Development et al.

The Council’s programs and services are driven by its diverse group of executive members. Network with executives from different functions and industry sectors to gain insights on the cutting-edge ideas that are driving industry forward.

  • Live and Online Discussion Forums
  • Thought Leadership and Research Content
  • Conferences and Plant Tours
“We are facing many new challenges in the era of Manufacturing 4.0 – in technology as well as leadership and education. As Manufacturing 4.0 is mainly based on network progress, it will be essential to collaborate and learn as part of a network of thought-leaders across the industry. The MLC offers the right platform to achieve this goal. Tapping into colleagues, learning from others, compiling use cases, and, yes, even making mistakes and failing at times will all be part of the journey to Manufacturing 4.0. By coming together around a set of common issues and opportunities, the likelihood of that journey getting just a bit easier for everyone greatly increases.”

Dr. Detlef Zühlke, Chairman of Germany’s SmartFactoryKL Technology Initiative and Scientific Director, Innovative Factory Systems at the German Research Center for AI

“Our future cyber/physical environment will be based on connectivity — connected products, connected supply chains, and connected factories. The Council’s leadership is needed to develop the roadmaps and the skilled people necessary to ensure that we can fully utilize the “Industrial Internet of Things” and deliver further progress on the key metrics of safety, quality and cost efficiency.”

John Fleming, Former Executive Vice President of Global Manufacturing and Labor Affairs, Ford Motor Co

About Frost & Sullivan

Frost & Sullivan, the Growth Partnership Company, works in collaboration with clients to leverage visionary innovation that addresses the global challenges and related growth opportunities that will make or break today’s market participants.

Our “Growth Partnership” supports clients by addressing these opportunities and incorporating two key elements driving visionary innovation: The Integrated Value Proposition and The Partnership Infrastructure.

For more than 50 years, we have been developing growth strategies for the global 1000, emerging businesses, the public sector and the investment community. Is your organization prepared for the next profound wave of industry convergence, disruptive technologies, increasing competitive intensity, Mega Trends, breakthrough best practices, changing customer dynamics and emerging economies?

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