Archive for the "Manufacturing" Category


Quantifying the Impact of Automation in Manufacturing and Distribution: Video Short

Quantifying the Impact of Automation in Manufacturing and Distribution: Video Short

A McKinsey & Company report studied the impact of automation in manufacturing driven by rapid advances in robotics, AI, and machine learning.


Highlights:

  • New robotics technologies are cheaper, faster, and smarter than before.
  • 87% of hours workers spend in production could be automated with existing technologies.
  • Learn what four factors to consider when making decisions about automation.

Since the industrial revolution, automation has been a major disruptor in manufacturing. Once again, a new generation of robotics and related technologies is reshaping the face of the manufacturing and distribution industries. In fact, American manufacturing has made a recent comeback, thanks in large part to the widespread use of automation and robotics.

Automation technologies that were once cost-prohibitive are now more achievable — and the return on investment is greater than ever before. The new generation of robots are not only far less expensive than their ancestors, but they are also more versatile, flexible, and able to learn new tasks, even those that were far too difficult for machines just a few short years ago.

The new generation of robots are not only far less expensive than their ancestors, but they are also more versatile, flexible, and able to learn new tasks, even those that were far too difficult for machines just a few short years ago. Click To Tweet

Robots are now capable of, for example, “picking and packing irregularly spaced objects, and resolving wiring conflicts in large-scale projects in, for example, the aerospace industry,” according to a recent report from McKinsey & Company. Not only that, artificial intelligence is leveling the playing field between human and machine, and “increasing the potential for automating work activities in many industries. In one recent test, for example, computers were able to read lips far more accurately than professionals.”

Quantifying the impact of automation on manufacturing

McKinsey’s study, which covered 46 countries and about 80% of the global workforce, determined that a tremendous amount of working hours could be eliminated or repurposed by automation with technology that is already here.

The study found that “87% of the hours spent on activities performed by workers in production occupations are automatable — the most of any manufacturing occupation.”

And it doesn’t stop there. “Even among other occupations in manufacturing (for example, engineering, maintenance, materials movement, management, and administration), however, there is still significant opportunity, with approximately 45 percent of these working hours automatable as well.”

The cost and logistics of automating

In general, the study found that automation allowed wages to increase globally and profits to grow. The authors emphasize the fact that in order to capture long-term value from automation, manufacturers’ best bet is to implement technologies in phases, capturing value at each phase, allowing for future investment.

Many complex factors come into play when it comes to meeting the challenges associated with automation, deciding what to automate, and when to implement technologies to best capture long-term value. Cost is just one element, albeit an important one.

McKinsey suggests considering the following four factors when making decisions about what to automate:

  1. Technical feasibility
  2. Cost associated with developing and deploying necessary hardware and software
  3. Cost of labor and resultant “supply-and-demand dynamics”
  4. Benefits beyond labor substitution, such as increased output and quality, and fewer errors

An American manufacturing renaissance

The Association for Advancing Automation has predicted that “American manufacturing’s embrace of robotics will ensure a new manufacturing renaissance in this country.” Already, we’re seeing a steady trickle of companies reversing outsourcing trends, as it’s becoming profitable again for manufacturing to take place in the United States, rather than relying on cheap labor abroad.

As more operations embrace automation — and as we continue to witness rapid advances in robotics, AI, and machine learning — American manufacturers won’t be the only ones to reap the benefits. Many experts are predicting that automation in manufacturing will create new, better paying jobs.

Optimists include our own CEO Frank Cavallaro, who recently wrote: “From what I see now … I still feel optimistic that AI and automation will create leaner, more efficient operations that will, in turn, create new (even if different) jobs. To me, it still looks like the ones winning from the increasing technological advances in the manufacturing industry are, in fact, we humans.”

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The One Thing Manufacturing Marketers Must Do Now: Video Short

The One Thing Manufacturing Marketers Must Do Now: Video Short

Here’s why manufacturing marketers should skip the sales pitch and create content that prioritizes the needs of their target audience.


Highlights:

  • Research indicates that only about half of manufacturing marketers are prioritizing their audience’s needs when creating content.
  • Inbound marketing (like content marketing) is more effective than outbound marketing for B2B businesses.
  • A documented strategy will help you get started creating focused, quality content.

One statistic is sticking out to me in the Content Marketing Institute’s Manufacturing Content Marketing 2019: Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends report. According to the research, half (51%) of manufacturing marketers reported that they always or frequently prioritize their sales/promotional message over their audience’s informational needs when creating content for content marketing purposes.

Let’s think about that for a second.

A preponderance of manufacturing content marketers are, unfortunately, missing the point.

We’ve written before about why inbound marketing, like content marketing, is more effective for the supply chain than more traditional outbound marketing techniques. And while it’s true that “the supply chain is increasingly seeing the value of moving to an inbound marketing strategy,” the CMI’s research suggests that it’s taking some marketers a long time.

Why you should be putting your audience’s informational needs first

Why should you be emphasizing your audience’s informational needs over your promotional goals when creating content?

One of the basic premises of content marketing is the recognition that, increasingly, your customers want much more from you than your product. Click To Tweet

The short answer is: because your audience prefers it. One of the basic premises of content marketing is the recognition that, increasingly, your customers want much more from you than your product. For manufacturing marketers, this means that customers want value separate from and outside of the sales funnel.

Enter content marketing. Creating effective marketing content relies on accepting that your business has much more to offer than its primary products and services. In fact, your most valuable commodity, as we’ve often said before, isn’t any material or service — it’s the knowledge, expertise, and informed, unique perspectives you have to offer.

Strategize to put customers first

To successfully adjust your content marketing efforts to put your customers’ informational needs first, the first step is having a well-defined, measurable strategy — and documenting it. This means defining precisely who you’re trying to reach and developing a complete target buyer persona(s).

Once you’ve defined exactly who you’re trying to reach, it’s time to identify the unique questions, needs, and challenges this target buyer faces. Chances are, your business has not only the products to meet those needs, but also the information to answer question and offer valuable insights.

One of the benefits of a documented strategy, with clearly stated objectives, is that it allows you to set up metrics and evaluate your successes and shortfalls. This is where you can start listening to your target buyers. You can even solicit responses from them via email and social media that will allow you to target and hone your efforts in the future.

Meeting manufacturing marketers’ challenges

The CMI’s research reinforces the fact that manufacturing marketers face unique challenges. The top reported challenge was “creating content that appeals to multi-level roles within the target audience.”

According to Achinta Mitra, founder of Tiecas, an industrial marketing consultancy, “Buying decisions are made by a committee and very rarely, if ever, by an individual. Some of these stakeholders may never interact with your content or visit your site.”

Essentially, there are various types of buyers with various needs — meaning their content needs are different. Mitra advises bringing “subject matter experts to the forefront, and letting marketing do the heavy lifting in the background.” He bases his advice on the belief that “one engineer to another is a powerful concept for earning trust, gaining credibility, and winning the mindshare of engineers and industrial professionals.”

If you’re thinking beyond downloads when creating content, and truly prioritizing quality information, your content will function broadly throughout the complex manufacturing buyer’s journey.

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Archive for the "Manufacturing" Category


Using Digital Marketing to Keep Your Pipeline Full in the Material Handling Industry: Video Short

Using Digital Marketing to Keep Your Pipeline Full in the Material Handling Industry: Video Short

When it comes to growing your material handling business, digital marketing can set your company apart, capture quality leads, and keep your sales pipeline full.


 

Highlights:

  • Material handling is extremely competitive and faces challenges like rising interest rates, trade policies that are increasingly inhospitable, and a scarcity of skilled labor, among others.
  • Blog posts, e-books, tip sheets, guides, case studies, videos, and other forms of content go a long way toward attracting prospects to your digital assets.
  • Arming your sales rep with targeted content to share with prospects during specific moments of the purchasing process advances their reputation as a knowledge source.

Last year, the MAPI Foundation predicted an average of 2.8% growth in manufacturing over the next three years, as well as an increase in capital equipment expenditure by over twice that. For makers of material handling equipment like conveyers, lift-trucks, and handling structures, MAPI’s forecast is good news.

As with all aspects of the supply chain industry, material handling is extremely competitive and faces challenges like rising interest rates, trade policies that are increasingly inhospitable, and a scarcity of skilled labor, among others.

For your business to participate in the forecasted global growth, your best bet is a sales funnel that’s consistently filled with quality prospects. But how do you make that happen?

Here’s where content marketing can help.

Digital marketing keeps you visible to your highest quality prospects

In the fiercely competitive material handling landscape, in which potential customers have a wide array of options, marketers face the challenge of visibility within the industry. Setting your business apart from your competition is obviously crucial to cultivating and captivating leads.

Blog posts, e-books, tip sheets, guides, case studies, videos — all these forms of content go a long way toward attracting prospects to your digital assets, building trust, growing your reputation, and, ultimately, converting leads. Click To Tweet

Perhaps your best strategy for achieving this kind of visibility is content. Blog posts, e-books, tip sheets, guides, case studies, videos — all these forms of content go a long way toward attracting prospects to your digital assets, building trust, growing your reputation, and, ultimately, converting leads.

Generating leads with content

A content-rich site has great advantages in terms of SEO (for more on this, check out our four-part series on writing for SEO), which is key to visibility. Creating quality content and structuring your site effectively will help capture leads. As developing and sharing content attracts prospects to your site, effective calls-to-action (CTAs) drive prospects to share their contact information in exchange for information that has value for them.

Keep in mind when planning and creating your content that your goal is not to push your products — a mistake many material handling marketers make. Instead, use your content to demonstrate to prospects that you have a deep understanding of their business and the unique needs and challenges they face. Offer useful information for each stage of the buyer’s journey. Remember, the most valuable asset you have to offer is your knowledge and expertise.

Align content with sales

Keeping your sales pipeline full is your goal when it comes to competing in the material handling marketplace. Arming your sales rep with targeted content to share with prospects during specific moments of the purchasing process advances their reputation as a knowledge source. That can be the key to getting a foot in the door, advancing through the final stages of a purchasers’ decision, or closing the deal.

When digital marketing and sales work together, you’ll see the results hit your bottom line. Curating and creating great content will generate quality leads for your company. And it also empowers your sales force to build relationships with potential customers — and close the sale.

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Archive for the "Manufacturing" Category


6 Favorite Marketing Automation Tools for the Packaging Industry: Video Short

6 Favorite Marketing Automation Tools for the Packaging Industry: Video Short

Packaging industry marketers: check out these marketing automation tools for email workflows, social media scheduling, and customer relationship management.


Highlights:

  • Customers increasingly expect packaging to be personalized to suit their needs.
  • Personalize leads’ interactions with your business through automated processes.
  • Get help with email workflows, social advertising, and customer relationship management.

Lately it seems like everyone is talking about marketing automation. As B2B buyers increasingly demand personalized experiences through the buyer’s journey, marketers’ jobs are getting tougher, as they need to provide custom lead-nurturing content to all prospects in their databases. This is particularly true for the packaging industry, as B2B customers expect that packaging will be highly personalized to suit their needs.

And that’s where automating marketing tasks can help.

The term “marketing automation” refers to a variety of tools used to automate the process of personalizing leads’ interactions with your business. The sheer variety of these tools can sometimes be overwhelming — so we’ve pulled a few of our favorites in the categories of email workflows, paid advertising, and customer relationship management.

6 marketing automation tools packaging marketers

Email workflows

1.      Customer.io

This tool lets you send targeted messages to your customers, crafting them based on how they interact with your business and making personalized messages simple. You can also keep track of conversions and create customer profiles. Our favorite part? It integrates with your mobile app or website, letting you see data in real time and trigger actions by adding in predefined rules.

2.      Constant Contact

This powerful tool has some features that are unique — and can take your marketing capabilities beyond the basics. Beyond setting up and managing an automated database, Constant Contact offers Facebook fan promotion, coupons and deals, and event management.

Paid advertising tools

3.      AdRoll

This is an extremely effective tool for retargeting customers through re-engagement on Facebook, Twitter, and elsewhere on the web. It offers cross-device and cross-platform retargeting capabilities, as well as flexible segmentation, letting you provide customized experiences that dramatically improve your marketing efficiency. It also offers customized budgeting and full control over ad spend.

Customer relationship management (CRM)

4.      Pardot

Pardot is an all-inclusive marketing automation suite, but it’s particularly strong for amping up your engagement with CRM integration. It’s a great tool for helping your sales team shorten the sales cycle. And, in addition to CRM integration, it offers email marketing, lead nurturing, lead scoring, and ROI reporting.

5.      Marketo

This cloud-based marketing software lets you drive revenue with lead management and mobile marketing. It not only helps build customer relationships, but it helps you sustain them as well. Best of all, you can try it out for free until you’re sure it’s right for your business.

Bonus all-in-one tool

6.      HubSpot

HubSpot is an inbound marketing tool that lets you generate leads, close deals, and manage your sales pipeline from start to finish. It integrates beautifully with a content marketing strategy, with the goal of turning outbound leads into inbound ones. It includes revenue reporting, custom-event reporting, custom-event automation triggers, predictive-lead scoring, contacts and company reporting, and event-based segmentation.

What marketing automation tools are you using to create efficiencies in your packaging business?

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Archive for the "Manufacturing" Category


The Ugly and Not-So-Sustainable Smart Device Battery Supply Chain

The Ugly and Not-So-Sustainable Smart Device Battery Supply Chain

It’s time for consumers to stand up to tech giants and force them to procure raw materials, used in an ethical and sustainable manner, for smart devices.


Highlights:

  • Smart devices have created a dependency on batteries.
  • Blockchain is being considered to track cobalt from its source in the production of lithium ion batteries.
  • The number one way to decrease reliance on batteries is to reduce overall consumption of energy from batteries.

Battery technology is hot these days, no pun intended.  Consumers are demanding high performance and safety from batteries as energy storage devices.  Smart device manufacturers are responding by producing batteries that are smaller, safer, and store more energy; this performance comes at a cost.  Increasingly rare and advanced materials are required to produce a safer and more high-performance battery for your smart device.

Cobalt is one of the key raw materials required to support the green revolution.  Too bad over half of the world’s cobalt supply comes from the war-torn Democratic Republic of the Congo, where they are known to use child and slave labor in the mining of cobalt.

No one cares, however.  Device manufacturers are delivering a price point and value that the consumers are willing to pay for.  Supply chain reform could briefly interrupt this harmony, and peoples’ relationships with their smart devices could be jeopardized.  The sad truth is that device manufacturers have pulled the wool over our eyes for too long and we have now become dependent on these batteries.

There is a solution, however.

Consumers have to stand up to tech giants such as Apple and Samsung and force them to procure raw materials used in an ethical and sustainable manner.  This is happening in the “Responsible Cobalt Initiative” where blockchain is being considered to track cobalt from its source in the production of lithium ion batteries.

The blockchain method relies on adequate and honest oversight at the very site where the cobalt is being mined from the Earth in locations such as the DRC.  How will honest oversight be implemented in what is known to be one of the most war-torn and corrupt regions of the world?  Why wouldn’t Congolese mine owners simply lie about labor practices?  In this case, the supply chain reform also requires political and cultural reform.  I can’t help but think about that time when the U.S. tried to cause political and cultural reform in Iraq…

The bigger and more disturbing picture is that society is on track for over-reliance on lithium-ion batteries as energy storage devices.  The number of smart devices is skyrocketing.  And if electric vehicles achieve widespread adoption someday, the amount of lithium-ion batteries and cobalt required to fuel that growth will be staggering.

This is just one reason why the energy future of our planet is so uncertain.  Surely the population will continue to grow.  Smart device numbers will keep rising exponentially.  The planet is going to need more energy and more energy storage. Hopefully, an increasing amount of energy will come from renewable and carbon-neutral sources.  In order to maximize the potential of renewable energy installations, we need vast amounts of energy storage.  Putting all our eggs in the lithium-ion battery basket is a very bad idea by-in-large due to the shortcomings of the cobalt supply chain.

In order to maximize the potential of renewable energy installations, we need vast amounts of energy storage. Putting all our eggs in the lithium-ion battery basket is a bad idea due to the shortcomings of the cobalt supply chain. Click To Tweet

It is important to note that the number one, most surefire way to decrease our reliance on batteries is to reduce overall consumption of energy from batteries.  Simply put, if everyone were to spend half as much time on their cell phones, we would need half as many cell phone batteries.  The phone would have to be charged half as often, and the battery would last twice as long, thus requiring half as many batteries over time.  Maybe we would even start talking to each other once again.

In addition to reducing consumption, humankind must pursue radical technological advances in the field of energy storage.  Power-to-gas and room-temperature-superconductors are two cutting-edge technologies that have the potential to revolutionize the way we store energy.  Distributed generation, smart grids, and passive heating and cooling are some more conventional ways to reduce the energy storage burden placed on large-scale renewable generating facilities.

To make a long story short, the force of corporate greed and government corruption has overpowered the force of the consumers’ desires up until now.  I am sure that the vast majority of smart device users, if asked, would be opposed to the use of child and slave labor in the mining of raw materials for their smart devices.  I, for example, would be willing to pay more for a device that guarantees fair and ethical trade up and down the entire supply chain.  We must never forget that we the consumers have the ultimate power.  If we want Apple or Samsung to change their ways, we can easily do that.  Get out and vote.  Make your voice heard.  Stand up to corporate greed and government corruption.  Take a break from your cell phone and talk to the person next to you.  I promise the world will be a better place.

This article was written by Peter Chivers, an MBA student at the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics at the University of New Hampshire. Pete is an engineer and MBA student with a passion for innovation and the outdoors.  He spends his free time with his family hiking mountains, gardening, and building ice fishing contraptions. 

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Prospects Prefer This Type of Content — By Far

Prospects Prefer This Type of Content — By Far

Case studies are a perfect way to organize and present hard facts about your products and services — and they continue to be one of the most effective types of content out there.

A recent study shows that case studies far outperform other types of content. The DemandGen 2017 Content Preferences Survey Report found that 78% of B2B buyers used vendor case studies as part of their purchasing decisions in the past 12 months. 89% of B2B marketers consider customer testimonials and case studies to be the most effective kind of content to convert buyers.

Buyers are looking to “benchmark their own experiences against others who’ve tackled similar challenges,” concluded DemandGen’s report. Data is powerful stuff, and buyers know it. In fact, DemandGen’s survey indicated 48% of buyers not only prefer case studies but find them to be the most valuable type of content for research. 57% even said that they would register and share information in exchange for case studies.

Why the case study?

Beyond the obvious answer that data is important to buyers, why do they respond so well to this type of content? According to Frank Cespedes, Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and author of Aligning Strategy and Sales, ultimately, buyers are less interested in theory than practice: “Buyers, especially B2B buyers, want to know what others are doing with your product, not what they might do to improve productivity or other outcomes.”

Yes, case studies are highly effective, but their success is predicated on your reputation as a thought leader and source of knowledge and expertise. Click To Tweet

As a side-note, before you jump ship on aspects of your content marketing strategy, like blogs, social media, webinars, etc., that focus on sharing ideas rather than just data, consider this: even the most impactful case study is only as useful as the totality of your brand’s content. In other words, yes, case studies are highly effective, but their success is predicated on your reputation as a thought leader and source of knowledge and expertise.

What makes a case study effective?

Not all case studies are created equal. Data presented in a confusing or incomplete way, for example, doesn’t pack the kind of punch needed to demonstrate exactly how your products and services help your buyers. A good case study should prompt the reader to explore your brand and the rest of your content. Ultimately, the goal is to show your prospect that making a change in their process will lead to better results.

As you design a case study, think about giving buyers the tools to present your products and services to decision-makers within their business. “Especially in B2B contexts,” says Cespedes, “buyers must justify a decision to others in the organization who have competing priorities for limited funds.” This is where a compelling case study comes in. Show your potential buyers how other organizations benefit from your offerings, and they have the tools to make a case for your business.

Case studies are proven to be well worth the time and energy needed to produce them. Recommendations and data from real customers have a powerful impact and should continue to be a significant component of your overall content marketing strategy.

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