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

The National Association of Manufacturers’ 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.

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Critical Issues 2018/2019

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, large and small 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 five Critical Issues for 2018/2019, and their key areas of focus, are the following:

Factories of the Future

Large and small manufacturers, in both process and discrete manufacturing, need to understand and embrace the potential of new and evolving production models, materials, and technologies along the journey towards Manufacturing 4.0 to help them create more cost efficient, responsive, flexible, transparent, connected, automated, and sustainable factories, production models, and new business models for the future.

Areas of Focus

  • M4.0 roadmaps, maturity models, and transformation frameworks to help companies move along their journey to Manufacturing 4.0, from current production models, often based on legacy systems, to a future state of increasingly digitally-enabled production readiness.
  • End-to-end digitization and analysis of manufacturing and engineering processes and functions in both centralized and distributed production networks.
  • Manufacturing cybersecurity risk management including preventative measures and cyber attack response strategies, for both large and small companies, that minimize potential vulnerabilities and impacts in increasingly networked production platforms.
M4.0 Cultures: Collaborative, Innovative, and Integrated

To maximize and harness the potential of Manufacturing 4.0, manufacturers of all sizes need to actively transform traditional operational cultures to create more collaborative, innovation-driven, cross-functional and integrated enterprise cultures to drive growth, new product and service development, operational efficiencies, and competitive success in the world of Manufacturing 4.0.

Areas of Focus

  • Cross-functional processes and integrated organizational structures that harness multiple sources of data and expertise to drive both continuous and disruptive innovation, make faster and better decisions, reduce time to market, and enhance competitive agility.
  • Collaborative innovation cultures and platforms that leverage the ideas and development resources of employees, suppliers, external partners, customers, academia, and ‘the crowd’ to create new products, improve business processes, and create innovative new business models.
  • • Best practice approaches, and the challenges involved, in deploying integrated Manufacturing 4.0 technologies and platforms such as digital threads, that enhance collaboration, integration, and innovation to help manufacturers deliver new ideas and improvements faster than ever before across the enterprise.
Transformative Technologies in Manufacturing

Manufacturers must learn how to identify, adopt, value-proof, and scale the most promising M4.0-enabling technologies in order to achieve greater speed, agility, efficiency, and competitiveness and to drive innovative new business models and improve customer experiences.

Areas of Focus

  • The impact of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive analytics on the future of manufacturing.
  • The latest developments in other transformational technologies including the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), 3D printing, modeling and simulation, collaborative robotics, augmented and virtual realities, 5G networks, blockchain, and other emerging technologies now on the horizon.
  • Best practice business case approaches for selecting, cost justifying, and deploying disruptive new M4.0 technologies in a manufacturing enterprise, while encouraging and implementing standards and architectures that support open, interoperable systems.
Next-Generation Manufacturing Leadership and the Changing Workforce

Manufacturing 4.0 requires manufacturing leaders and their teams to be more collaborative, innovative, and responsive to disruptive change. That means leaders must embrace new behaviors, structures, cultures, value systems, and strategies, and develop more effective ways of identifying, attracting, developing, retaining, and engaging the talent and skills of both the current workforce and the next generation of employees.

Areas of Focus

  • Effective leadership role models, behaviors, and mindsets that best support the company’s journey to Manufacturing 4.0 and help define a successful profile for tomorrow’s manufacturing leaders.
  • Employee transition, development, and engagement strategies for an inclusive, diverse, multi-generational, multi-cultural, multinational workforce that is increasingly interacting with advanced technologies such as AI and cobots.
  • Identifying, attracting, and encouraging next-generation talent and skills for tomorrow’s manufacturing workforce, including adopting new working cultures and changing ethical value systems, and by developing more effective ways to collaborate with educational and community organizations.
Manufacturing 4.0 Sustainability

Manufacturing 4.0 technologies provide companies, large and small, with the opportunity to leverage new analytical insights and more flexible production platforms to maximize the use of resources, achieve major efficiency gains, drive revenue growth, and minimize environmental impacts. Successful engagement with customers, suppliers, partners and the next-generation workforce also requires manufacturers to become increasingly transparent about their environmental and socially-responsible practices.

Areas of Focus

  • 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.

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.


2019 Working Group Topics

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 The National Association of Manufacturers

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) is the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states. Manufacturing employs more than 12 million men and women, contributes $2.25 trillion to the U.S. economy annually, has the largest economic impact of any major sector and accounts for more than three-quarters of all private-sector research and development in the nation. The NAM is the powerful voice of the manufacturing community and the leading advocate for a policy agenda that helps manufacturers compete in the global economy and create jobs across the United States.

The NAM’s world-class staff of policy experts provide unmatched access and information on the key issues affecting your business and bottom line. We are on the front lines of a wide range of policy battles, from immigration reform and labor relations, to energy and the environment, to trade policy and taxes. At every turn, we are working on behalf of manufacturers in America to advance policies that help manufacturers do what they do best: create economic strength and jobs.

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