3D printing and India's role as an emerging market discussed
These changes will trickle down to the production of surf goods
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 6 December, 2013 - The manufacturing of sporting goods will change in the next decade, is the message of the WFSGI Forum on the Future of Manufacturing. The Forum started earlier on Monday in Taipei, Taiwan where 200 representatives from footwear, sports apparel and bicycles gathered at this 2-day event organized by the World Federation of the Sporting Goods Industry (WFSGI).
India is one of the countries that is to change the current landscape of manufacturing of the entire sporting goods dramatically. This is forecasted by Dr. Haico Ebbers who is Professor of International Economics at Nyenrode Business University, The Netherlands. He works in the Centre for International Business and Diplomacy. Ebbers addressed the main macro-economic trends in the years ahead and on the long term up to 2050.
By that time the BRIC Countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China) will be the biggest economies of the world with the ranking of China as the biggest and the US on the second place.
Remarkable is that India is ranked third in the Professor of International Economics forecast. Main reason for that is the fact that the country has a much younger population compared to other (Asian) countries. This younger generation is in particular important not only as available workforce, but more importantly for growing India’s emerging domestic market. On the aging population and workforce Haico Ebbers noted further that this is, next to structural increases in wages, a big problem for most Asian countries.
Labor costs in China and Portugal to reach equal level
Ebbers wasn’t the only Professor addressing the visitors of the Forum on the Future of Manufacturing. Steve Evans is the Director of the new EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Industrial Sustainability and advisor of the UK government on trends in manufacturing as he has a long track record in both academia and business in the fields of systems engineering, manufacturing and sustainability involving different sectors such as the automotive industry, urban redevelopment and food.
One of his presented conclusions is that in only a few years’ time labor costs in China and Portugal or Eastern European countries will be at equal levels. With that closer to market production becomes more important.
Production automation and customization
Next to the two Professors, other speakers from the sporting goods industry with in particular footwear makers addressed the audience. Apache Footwear for instance is one of the producers for Adidas and has been producing in India since 2006. And despite the availability of cheap labor in this country Apache is increasingly robotizing its production. Apache Footwear is now trying to find the right balance between automation and human labor.
Christian Decker, Managing Director of DESMA, one of the leading suppliers of robotics to footwear manufacturers and partner of this event, challenged the audience and said that the sporting goods industry should be revolutionized. By setting up an entirely new concept with customization of the customer’s needs in view, would leverage the consumer’s influence to that extent that it will participate in the brand’s success. It’s another of the many remarkable aspects discussed by the speakers of the Forum on the Future of Manufacturing.
New Realities in Manufacturing
On the 2nd day of the event, an emerging new business model for manufacturing was discussed in all its facets and, in particular, with new technologies that come into play. That new business model is needed as, next to the continued growth in salaries in especially Asia, rising energy costs as well as continued increase in air pollution and water scarcity will undoubtedly lead to interventions.
Knowledge exchange across other industries
Being prepared for the new reality in manufacturing involves many aspects which were addressed by several expert speakers. Porsche Consulting presented for instance how companies - across other industries - can implement lean production and just-in-time, the manufacturing principles which are already decades old.
Nowadays lean production and just-in-time stands at such a level at the Porsche factory in Stuttgart, Germany that stocks have been brought down to just three to four hours of production! And that is at a car factory making 480 Porsche’s a day. Porsche uses common parts and common platforms to that extent that they produce the same door for a 911 as for a Cayenne.
Additive Manufacturing and 3D printing
The emerging new business model for manufacturing incorporates new technologies like 3D printing. Mr. Kah Fai Leong, Associate Professor at ISR Nanyang Technological University, Singapore noted that this will take, “the complexity out of manufacturing.”
It will bring prototyping phases down to hours instead of months. “The perspective on 3D printing is currently like seeing an iceberg. The top is seen, but the possibilities 3D printing offers are huge and have not been conceived yet by many manufacturers. It will change the mindset on manufacturing,” was one of the many conclusions made at the 2-day conference.
WFSGI Secretary General Robbert de Kock was very pleased with the excited discussions and provoking presentations. He concluded that the 2-day Forum addressed all the facets of the emerging new business model for manufacturing sporting goods and bicycle industry and that a sequel of this WFSGI Forum is certainly going to happen.
Subsequent to this event, the WFSGI held its Manufacturers Committee meeting to discuss the conclusions and outcome of the Forum. These will be presented at a later stage.