Manufacturing the Future

A glimpse at three of this year’s hottest manufacturing trends

The manufacturing industry is constantly transforming. As new technologies are developed, manufacturers must adapt and change if they want to stick around.

So, what advancements will 2019 bring? QP editors dig into a few of this year’s biggest trends:

Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT has provided manufacturers with increased visibility into their operations, reducing production times, and increasing profits and customer satisfaction. According to Martin Boggess, industry vice president, manufacturing and supply chain at Hitachi Solutions, it will continue to be the big thing in 2019.

“Manufacturers are increasingly leveraging (IoT), which entails the interconnection of unique devices within an existing internet infrastructure, to achieve a variety of goals including cost reduction, increased efficiency, improved safety, meeting compliance requirements, and product innovation,” Boggess said.1

“Roughly 63% of manufacturers believe that applying IoT to products will increase profitability over the next five years and are set to invest $267 billion in IoT by 2020,” said Boggess. “They understand that IoT empowers them to make informed strategic decisions by providing crucial, real-time information.”2

A recent MPI Group study also showed that over the next five years, about 62% of manufacturing organizations either plan to develop a strategy for embedding IoT technologies or have a strategy in place. The study also showed that 76% of manufacturers “will increase the use of smart devices or embedded intelligence in production processes in the next two years,” and “66% will increase non-production IoT applications.”3

Data management

Advancements in IoT, connected devices and sensors have resulted in a sharp increase in the amount of data that manufacturers collect. Simply managing and storing data isn’t enough anymore, according to the Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM).

“The problem is there [are] often too [many] data to manage, so companies fail to consistently make observations or find useful takeaways from the information,” AEM said. “In short, they’re not utilizing the data, and they’re not really even managing [them], either.”4

All these data can be overwhelm-ing to manage, so manufacturers must figure out a way to make it meaningful.

“Leading companies today are establishing processes and investing in tools to help increase both profits and productivity,” AEM said. “And, as technology continues to develop and evolve, opportunities related to data utilization will become more and more prevalent with time.”5

Stefan Reuther, chief sales officer at COPA-DATA, suggests starting by implementing a data strategy.

“Rather than simply collecting and storing data, manufacturers must identify the results that they want to achieve and decide how data can help them to meet these business objectives,” Reuther said. “Without a pre-determined strategy like this, manufacturers run the risk of simply collecting and storing hordes of data. There’s no value in data if [they are] left to gather dust.”6


It’s no secret that manufacturing faces a significant skills gap. According to a joint study by Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, about 2.4 million manufacturing jobs are expected to be left unfilled between 2018 and 2028, which would jeopardize $2.5 trillion in manufacturing gross domestic product.7

The shortage is due to the retirement of baby boomers and the proliferation of advanced technologies, such as robotics and artificial intelligence. To help fill this gap, the study suggests manufacturers should encourage apprenticeship programs, develop in-house training programs and foster human-machine collaboration.8 In addition, as manufacturers upskill and retrain their workforces, they should focus on:

  • Digital skills.
  • Robotic and automation programming skills.
  • Technology and computer skills.
  • Critical thinking.9

While training people for existing manufacturing jobs, Lisa Caldwell, the Americas advisory markets and sector leader for Ernst & Young, said organizations must also train for the jobs of the future.

“Indeed, as the middle class expands and technology reshapes the industry from the shop floor to the boardroom, manufacturers must accept that the ‘blue collar’ workers of the past are giving way to the ‘new collar’ workers of the future,” Caldwell said. “It is a generation engaged and empowered by the chance to collaborate with new technologies and reach new heights of productivity, efficiency and success.”10

—compiled by Lindsay Dal Porto, assistant editor


  1. Martin Boggess, “10 Trends That Will Dominate Manufacturing in 2019,” Hitachi Solutions, http://tinyurl.com/boggess-10-trends.
  2. Ibid.
  3. “The Internet of Things Has Finally Arrived,” MPI Group, http://tinyurl.com/mpi-iot-arrives.
  4. “5 Manufacturing Trends to Watch in 2019,” Association of Equipment Manufacturers, Jan. 17, 2019, http://tinyurl.com/aem-five-trends.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Stefan Reuther, “3 Predictions for Industrial Manufacturing Trends in 2019,” Automation.com, Dec. 21, 2018, http://tinyurl.com/reuther-three-predicts.
  7. “2018 Skills Gap in Manufacturing Study,” Deloitte and the Manufacturing Institute, https://tinyurl.com/y3s769xc.
  8. Ibid.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Lisa Caldwell, “Industry 4.0 Holds the Key to Closing the Manufacturing Industry’s Skills Gap,” Forbes, Jan. 11, 2019, https://tinyurl.com/yyawzuzk.

New @ ASQ

Cloud technology is the theme of Software Quality Professional’s (SQP) latest edition. Specifically, one of the articles in the March edition of the quarterly journal has been made available to all readers: “Assurance of Data Security and Privacy in the Cloud: A Three-Dimensional Perspective,” authored by Rakesh Kumar and Rinkaj Goyal. To access the article, visit SQP’s homepage at asq.org/pub/sqp.

ASQ members also can read the latest editions of Journal of Quality Technology (JQT) and Quality Management Journal (QMJ). JQT’s lead article is “Identifying and Visualizing Part-to-Part Variation With Spatially Dense Optical Dimensional Metrology Data,” while QMJ features “Customer and Employee Perceptual Congruence in Service Co-Production.” For access, visit asq.org/pub/jqt and asq.org/pub/qmj.


Meet ASQ’s 2020 Board of Directors Candidates

ASQ has announced the candidates for the 2020 board of directors.

This year, multiple candidates are vying for three positions: chair-elect, treasurer and director at large. Here is the complete list of candidates:

  • Past chair: Benito Flores, dean, school of engineering and technologies, Universidad de Monterrey, San Pedro Garza García, Mexico.
  • Chair: Austin S. Lin, technical program manager—cloud data centers, Google, Mountain View, CA.
  • Chair-elect (through the ASQ Nominating Committee): Janet Raddatz, former vice president of quality and food safety systems (retired 2018), Sargento Foods, Plymouth, WI.
  • Chair-elect (through petition): Dan Burrows, director of quality and reliability, Oceanside, CA.
  • Treasurer (through the ASQ Nominating Committee): Steven Schuelka, associate professor/adjunct professor, California State University/Ivy Tech Community College, Crown Point, IN.
  • Treasurer (through petition): Don Brecken, director of quality and safety, Commercial Tool Group, Comstock Park, MI; adjunct instructor, Ferris State University, Grand Rapids, MI; third-party quality management system lead auditor, Intertek Inc., Kentwood, MI; owner/consulting business improvement auditor, Quality Consulting Services LLC, Caledonia, MI.
  • Director at large (through the ASQ Nominating Committee): Glenn Walters, self-employed/small business development network, Santa Fe Community College, Rio Rancho, NM.
  • Director at large (through the ASQ Nominating Committee): Linda Andrade Gonzalez, quality and organizational excellence manager, KSR Internacional, Saltillo, Coahuila, Mexico.
  • Director at large (through petition): Trevor Craney, associate director of statistics, Collins Aerospace, Windsor Locks, CT.

Election rules do not allow candidates to campaign or have others campaign for them, but proxies and position statements for each candidate running for a contested office will be sent to all regular members by March 15. The deadline to submit votes is April 19.

Election results will be announced on May 19 during ASQ’s annual business meeting, to be held in conjunction with ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement in Fort Worth, TX.

Editor’s note

Information on the 2020 board of directors vote is being included in Quality Progress in accordance with ASQ bylaws.


QP Authors Contribute to News Report on Opioid Crisis

Two QP authors and ASQ members contributed control charts and analysis to a recent U.S. News and World Report series on the U.S. opioid epidemic.

Lloyd Provost, a statistician and consultant for Associates in Process Improvement, and Rocco J. Perla, co-founder of the nonprofit the Health Initiative, prepared control charts included in the news outlet’s analysis on opioid deaths.

“To our knowledge, this is the first time a major news outlet has used control charts and Shewhart’s method to frame a national story for the general public,” Provost said. “What is most fascinating is how the reporters used the charts to talk to state and national leaders, including U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and U.S. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb.

“They brought the charts ‘into the field’ and asked leaders to help them understand the points of special cause,” Provost continued. “It is powerful to see Shewhart’s framework come to life around an issue that everyone is so focused on.”

Perla also was quoted several times in the articles and co-wrote a commentary piece for the series.

“The analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers a clearer understanding of the unfolding epidemic,” wrote Steven Sternberg and Gaby Galvin, co-authors of the U.S. News and World Report series. “It indicates that opioid mortality has been climbing since at least the late 1990s, following the advent of the long-lasting opioid painkiller OxyContin.”

To access the U.S. News and World Report series, visit https://tinyurl.com/us-news-opioid.

Getting to know…

Judson B. Estes

Current position: Head of global reactive training and practice at Chrysler in Auburn Hills, MI.

Education: Master’s degree in system engineering from Oakland University in Auburn Hills.

What was your introduction to quality? My introduction to quality workmanship came from my father. I worked with him to diagnose broken radios and TVs in his repair shop. If I fixed one correctly, and the radio or TV was never returned to the store, I got paid. If the item came back, I fixed it for free until it didn’t come back to the shop.

Is there a teacher who influenced you more than others? In high school, Mr. Bancroft said to me many times to aim high. Even if you miss a little bit, you’re still good. He gave me the courage to apply for a job at NASA, which I ended up getting. He encouraged me to always ask for more than I thought I could handle.

Do you have a mentor who made a difference in your career? Don Dees and Jim Kos at Chrysler made the biggest difference in my career. They showed me the ropes to skip and the ropes to jump. Without their wise counsel, I would not have survived the puzzles at Chrysler.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? Don’t lie. Ever. About anything.

Previous noteworthy jobs? During college, I worked as a blacksmith at Greenfield Village, a historic area that’s part of the Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn. I also built astronomical equipment at NASA. At Chrysler, I worked in various sections of crash test programs.

Are you active in ASQ? I try to stay active with ASQ’s Detroit and Ann Arbor Sections.

What noteworthy activities or achievements outside of ASQ do you participate in? Helping both of my sons earn their Eagle Scout Awards.

Have you had anything published? My team and I have created many courses for Shainin-based problem solving, Six Sigma-based problem solving and applied statistics. Two of these courses are now graduate-level system engineering courses at Oakland University.

Recent awards or honors? Recipient of this year’s ASQ Shainin Medal, which recognizes the development of unique creative approaches applied to the improvement of quality or reliability.

Personal: Married, two sons.

What are your favorite ways to relax? Drinking a glass of wine while working on a jigsaw puzzle. I also like to build things around my house and property.

What books are you currently reading? Ray Kurzweil’s How to Create a Mind and Isaac Asimov’s The Gods Themselves.

What was the last movie you saw? “Aquaman.”

Quality quote: Another great theory shot to hell by facts. I hate it when that happens.

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