In a demanding customer environment and as we strive for a lean, agile manufacturing plant capable of consistently producing products on cost, on plan and on specification, technology offers us the opportunity to speed up the pace of progress and transparency. By doing so we meet our customer’s expectations on product and delivery and, our stakeholder’s expectations on profit.

The purpose of this guide is to provide examples and insight into how technology focused on Connected Visibility can help a manufacturing enterprise. Our term Manufacturing 2020 takes on two notions, perfect 2020 vision across your plant and the notion of deploying technology fit for the year 2020 and beyond.

Factory Magnify

We appreciate there are nuances driven by market segment and geography to and many more within manufacturing, which this guide covers. The notion of creating a manufacturing business plan and then delivering it has, historically, been driven out of managing exceptions effectively, offsetting risk/cost and in the last decade harnessing the supply chain in it’s entirety. This last point is worthy of particular focus to deliver Manufacturing 2020.



A gate is a point for checking and auditing. For example at the point of scanning a barcode. A stage is the area between gates. So improved visibility can be simply defined as the introduction of more gates. Now bring in Wi-Fi and RFID technology to supplement barcode, and the number of gates increases (thus reducing stages) as passive RFID would identify location based on last known pass through an unmanned gate. Active RFID gives you real time locationing if required. Therefore the technology strategy is straight forward and scalable dependent upon the density of visibility you need for your operation.


Standard Operating Procedures

Given the same number of components, how many different ways can you assemble them? Quality and Process engineering teams derive algorithms to determine the effectiveness of a design and manufacturing process on this basis. The solution is to adopt a design that can only (notionally) be assembled one way or, to set out the assembly process as a set of instructions termed SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures). Factory Binary These are usually documented and then updated as process improvements under tight version control. Moving from paper based SOPs to digital SOPs on a mobile computer, to a talking SOP in the operators ear piece are all available now. And in the future augmented reality is coming. This makes staff skilling more manageable, the staff more agile and the ability to manage change less cumbersome or costly.



A critical observation we have made is that manufacturers sometimes work in silos, developing their own capability then sending out mandates or SLAs for their supply chain to deliver to. So as the tier one manufacturing enterprise adopts automation and applies eKanban principles, for instance to its enterprise, the tier two and three sub assembly and component suppliers are playing catch up or baulking at the investment cost to keep pace.

Factory traffic lights

So right now you might be thinking of investing in technology to:

  • Speed up receiving and shipping
  • Reduce the cost footprint of stored items
  • Understand why your planned manufacturing output doesn’t match your actual
  • Speed up the training of new starters to line side manufacturing

There are solutions for all of these items and more that can connect across your business and beyond.


Zebra Technologies
Can Help

Not all manufacturing lines will be fully automated by 2020. Yes there will be some automation but Zebra recognises the need for machine to machine and machine to human interfaces and has created a range of products and solutions that harness the notion of Industrie 4.0 and IoT but make it scalable for the manufacturer so they can choose how they wish to deploy resources. This consistent thinking is one of Connected Visibility at a density that is right for your manufacturing operation now, and is scalable to meet the needs of tomorrow.