Discrete Manufacturing Future Trends

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Discrete Manufacturing Trends - Part 1

Discrete device manufacturers are affected by regional green agenda, servitization, and regional legislation. The influence of these activities has prompted manufacturing companies to transform their current operations. Such transformations include the use of de-carbonized energy, collaboration for the greater good, and research for efficient applications of bio-plastics.


  • Green manufacturing is relevant to a low-carbon future. A low-carbon future is possible if the energy systems used across the globe are de-carbonized.
  • After several years of plainly talking about change, significant progress has recently occurred in the transition from high-carbon systems to systems that have low-carbon energy.
  • The extensive deployment of clean-energy systems has grown beyond a limited number of developed countries. Breakthroughs have been pioneered in Silicon Valley and Berlin, as innovations and large-scale implementations are equally happening in Shanghai and Mumbai. In the year 2017, renewable energy accounted for over 60% of power generation investments across the world.
  • Processed regulations have been put in place to regulate current and future greenhouse gas emissions. The United States Supreme Court decision titled Massachusetts v. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently clarified issues on the regulation of the Clean Air Act.
  • Laptop and other electronic device manufacturers, such as Apple, have responded by convincing more of their suppliers to run their production processes on 100% de-carbonized energy systems.
  • Each time one of Apple's suppliers joins its efforts to "address climate change, the move is closer to a better future" for upcoming generations, Apple's vice president of environment, policy, and social initiatives recently stated.
  • Apple is headquartered in San Francisco, the "greenest city in North America." However, some companies producing laptops for Apple are in China.
  • Large-scale deployments of de-carbonized energy systems in Shanghai and Mumbai are essential to the future of discrete manufacturing in terms of the green agenda. Shanghai is one of the four municipalities in China which produced a total of over three trillion discrete electronic components in 2016.
  • Experts estimate that from 2017 to 2021, the rapid advancement of mobile Internet, automobile electronics, new energy systems, and VR industries will account for the growth of the "electronic component industry."
  • China is the global manufacturing headquarters for electronic components like as amplifiers, aluminum electrolytic capacitors, cathode ray tubes, printed-circuit boards as well as discrete semiconductor devices.
  • The Chinese Government started drafting a climate change law back in 2009 and seeks ways to accelerate the process of its legislation to enact it as a comprehensive national law. China's regional legislation on climate change aims to de-carbonize its energy system. China has pledged to reduce its carbon emissions for each unit of its GDP by 60 to 65%, when compared to its 2005 emission levels, by the year 2030.
  • Based on the recent Paris Agreement, India is also implementing policies to help it achieve its 2022 renewable energy target. Today, renewable energy is cheaper when compared to electricity generated from coal across India as it strives to deeply de-carbonize its energy system.
  • Many manufacturers of discrete electronic components and electronic devices in China are adapting by switching to de-carbonized energy sources for the manufacture of Laptops and other devices. Sunway Communication based in Shenzhen manufactures laptop components using 100% de-carbonized energy sources.
  • Quanta Computer recently evaluated several approaches, such as rooftop solar and capital investments, to achieve 100% renewable energy (de-carbonized energy) in the production of Apple laptops. Quanta Computer manufactures laptops from its facilities in Shanghai, Jiangsu, and Chongqing.
  • Luxshare is also committed in the use of 100% renewable energy in the production of Apple devices.
  • As of 2017, about 28% of emissions in the United States were produced by electric power generating firms, 22% by industrial processes, 7% by the commercial sector and 9% by the agricultural industry.


  • The World Economic Forum recently suggested that cobots can lend remarkable efficiency to the manufacturing process of automobiles. Collaborative robots (cobots) are designed and built for collaboration with human beings.
  • Digital traceability of minerals through the use of private-permission-based blockchain technology is vital. It can chronologically and permanently store information on network computers accessed by multiple collaborating parties. This collaboration will ensure that only metals sourced sustainability can find their way into the electronic products value chain.
  • Every component manufactured from the mining supply chain faces challenges related to traceability, transparency, interoperability between various supplier platforms. Traditional systems cannot efficiently trace the origin of minerals used to manufacture components. However, digital technology like blockchain can better this situation.
  • Blockchains are distributed digital ledgers that keep a record of every transaction in a securely and reliably by third parties and reduces the exposure of data to hackers.
  • Blockchain technology enhances productivity by replacing regular contracts with smart contracts.
  • Tracing origin is vital as metals sourced sustainably are processed with lower quantities of greenhouse emissions. The process of mining metals produces greenhouse gases, which are warming the globe.
  • The United States Geological Survey's (USGS) believes that collaboration to understand the system of resource flow is essential. Managing resources from extraction to the ultimate end product can help in managing the use of natural resources as well as protect the environment.
  • Recent laws in the United States require certain public companies to collaborate with their supply chains to address human rights, supply chain risks, and sustainability concerns. Companies operating in America are required to identify, assess, and report how they implement due diligence in screening their suppliers. They also must report actions taken to prevent and address all potential negative impacts of their supply chain.
  • CPA Journal reports that navigating the future of sustainability is difficult. This difficulty emanates from complex and continually changing sources used by international suppliers and inadequate transparency in sourcing information, primarily when related to smaller and faraway suppliers.
  • Several market leaders operating in the gold and diamond segment recently partnered with IBM for a blockchain network solution, which will trace the origin of discrete pieces of finished jewelry. IBM announced this partnership in 2019.
  • The TrustChain Initiative promoted by IBM is a partnership between Asahi (a metals refining company), Helzberg Diamonds (a jewelry retailer), LeachGarner (a precious metals supplier), The Richline Group (a jewelry manufacturer), and the independent verification service UL. The partnership aims to improve transparency across the supply chain leading to discrete pieces of jewelry.
  • Gemvara is a member of the Richline Group and produces customized, discrete, identifiable pieces, of jewelry and gemstone Jewelry. Richline Group has its headquarters in North America.
  • Richline Group is a Berkshire Hathaway company, which is headquartered in New York City.
  • Blockchain utilizes a database to record supply chain transactions. Usually, a bar code, digital tag, or serial number, is assigned to each physical piece. Such identification tags make items traceable throughout its supply chain.
  • Major automakers recently collaborated to use blockchain to track components used in the manufacture of vehicles. The partnership seeks to make the automobile industry greener by improving traceability. Companies in the partnership include Ford, GM, BMW, and Groupe Renault, as well as blockchain technology companies like IBM, Context Labs, and Accenture.
  • Several thousands of discrete components and pieces are manufactured, tested, packaged, and shipped to vehicle assembly plants, which put these components together. Each vehicle is given a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) when assembled.
  • Various automakers intend to use blockchain to transfer data using an encrypted ledger is distributed to every member of the chain. Each member keeps a copy of the ledger.
  • Before any transaction takes place, it passes verification from all members of the chain. This verification requirement provides an added layer to automate their transactions through smart contracts.


  • The utilization of bio-based plastics instead of heavy metals and plastic components is promoting the green agenda, servitization, and changes in regional legislation. In turn, this is driving manufacturing companies to transform their current operations.
  • Thermoplastics and its composites are produced partially or wholly from plant feedstock using emerging chemical and nanotechnologies. They are used in various vehicle systems, power-train applications, and can make cars lightweight and more fuel-efficient.
  • Synthetic biological materials of organic origin, such as bacteria and microbes, can help meet the rising demand for smaller and more powerful devices. Currently used to manufacture wires, transistors, and capacitors, bio-materials can cost-efficiently reduce the dependence on non-renewable materials and toxic components in digital electronics devices.
  • The European Union is committed to a transition from a linear to a circular economic model. It has accelerated the pace of growth of its bio-plastic industry. Bio-plastics are playing a pivotal role in the transition as they intend to replace fossil (carbon-containing fuels) with renewable resources.
  • Representatives of the bio-plastics industry are working closely with institutions in the European Union and relevant policy-makers to produce a legislative framework for bio-plastics to thrive.
  • Japan has an objective to increase its bio-plastics production to 20% of its overall plastics market by the year 2020. Statistics indicate that Japan has produced over 19.9 million units of cars from 2010 until 2018.
  • There is no legislation available at the moment, but there are indications that California may become the premiere state to pass a bio-plastic law or regulation in the United States. According to industry experts, California is known to be ahead of other states in terms of environmental legislation.
  • Some companies in the electronics component industry are proactive. They are researching developments in substrate processing to enable them to use photonics in laser patterning and flash curing of flexible substrates.
  • Brewer Science, in partnership with NovaCentrix and Atotech, is working on the development of new polymers. The new polymers will be quickly and neatly etched with mid-length ultraviolet waves usually used for laser drilling as well as etching on PCB's (printed circuit boards). The process improves the performance of printed-electronic-circuit boards which are discrete components in the manufacture of digital devices.
  • Brewer Science intends to process polymers at less than 200°C and use them in many electronics devices.


Research only includes trends that appear across multiple resources. Resources show some manufacturers of discrete components like NovaCentrix and Atotech are proactive. They are planning ahead of the future. Also included are laws and regulations that seek to promote a green agenda.

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Discrete Manufacturing Trends - Part 2

Two future trends in discrete manufacturing in terms of the green agenda, servitization, and regional legislation changes are the implementation of lean manufacturing processes and the use of cloud manufacturing processes. These two trends present a promising paradigm for future-generation manufacturing system.


  • There is a growing interest in demand-driven material requirements planning (DDMRP) in the process of manufacturing, supply chain management as well as logistics of discrete devices. Manufacturers of distinct devices are trying to use lean manufacturing procedures as much as possible to survive in an unpredictable economic climate. DDMRP is reshaping the fundamentals of lean manufacturing as it allows industrial manufacturers to react more effectively to changes in the market and shifts in consumer demand.
  • Demand-driven planning Is reshaping the manufacturing process of discrete components.
  • Lean manufacturing is a device production model that emphasizes the elimination of non-value added activities (waste). It aims to deliver quality products on time, at minimum cost, but higher efficiency.
  • In the United States, lean implementation is expanding rapidly throughout various manufacturing and service sectors, including aerospace, electronics, automotive, furniture production. This is used as a core business procedure to give manufacturers a competitive advantage.
  • The main aim of lean manufacturing is to rapidly improve the cost, quality, and service delivery by eliminating wastes. The process also results in significant environmental benefits. A reduction in waste (such as raw materials needed to produce a component) directly reduces the energy required to process the part.
  • According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the environmental benefits of lean, green and resilient supply chain management as seen in the case of the aerospace sector is better and higher than that of resilient supply chains (SC).
  • There is no legislation enforcing the use of lean technology in the United States. The laws of demand drive the lean procedure.
  • Some companies already implementing lean manufacturing processes for discrete item manufacture include Nike, Caterpillar Inc., Intel, Textron, Parker Hannifin, John Deere, Ford, and Toyota.
  • Lean system of manufacturing is also known as the Toyota philosophy. The philosophy helped Toyota to become one of the world's top three car companies. Consequently, the "Lean" concept is replicated all over the worldwide.
  • Lean as a manufacturing process is a management philosophy mostly derived from the Toyota Production System (TPS). TIPS is an integrated socio-technical production system which combines management philosophy and practices. Often called the Toyota Way, the TPS’ objectives include design to eliminate overburden, inconsistency, and waste. Waste in the lean concept does not only refer to materials but includes time, like time spent by a consumer while waiting for a product or assistance and waste of movement.
  • Lean philosophy relies on the flexibility of a system. The system has to be as flexible as possible to minimize stress, which is an element of overburden and produces waste.
  • Using the lean process of manufacture, Nike, a super-cool clothing company, recently worked with some NGOs and co-manufacturers on sustainability projects. Together with the Fair Labor Association, they created performance indicators for sustainable sourcing. They also launched a sustainable apparel coalition with the support of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and some other manufacturers to save money on energy as well as waste materials.
  • The United States machinery manufacturer Caterpillar Production System has modeled its production system after elements used by Toyota. One key thing Caterpillar recognized is that pace remains a critical aspect with lean integration. If projects run for too long before completion, they will fail. Therefore, projects are quickly implemented, and are far-reaching, to be successful.
  • Intel, the world’s largest computer chip manufacturer, also implements lean. About "five years ago," it took the company 14 weeks to introduce any new chip to its factory. Today, it takes ten days. Intel in Leixlip, Ireland is the first Intel factory to implement such lean principles.


  • For several years, "discrete and process-oriented manufacturing" organizations have hesitated to move their operations and core applications into the cloud. Unfortunately, this implies that they have been missing out in terms of visibility, flexibility, and automation. They need these services to overcome certain operational realities typical to physical plants, IT systems, as well as business processes.
  • The United States recently passed the Cloud Act. This act is in tune with international norms as well as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). It defines the terms through which third parties access and utilize data relevant to organizations or individuals in the United States.
  • Today, some manufacturing companies are no longer hesitant but are moving to the cloud. Manufacturing, just like every other industry, is experiencing a series of dynamic and worldwide changes that can shift the market in unexpected ways. From the appearance of inter-industry competitors to technology-based, economic, political, or social disruption. An example of a cloud-based platform for "discrete and process-oriented manufacturing" include Global Shop Solutions ERP Software.
  • Sage offers cloud-based enterprise resource planning applications for manufacturers supply chain, as well as business intelligence.
  • The efforts needed to satisfy highly variable customer expectations for next-generation service experiences and individual products have become a high-stakes endeavor.
  • The cloud opens doors to seamless unified utilization of intelligent technologies like the next-generation ERP, the IoT (Internet of Things), blockchain, digital twins, machine learning, and mixed reality.
  • The cloud gives discrete component manufacturers access to cyber-physical discrete manufacturing networks.
  • Cyber-physical systems (CPS) can facilitate unprecedented communication relationships between product manufacturers and designers. The effective use of CPS technologies enables and requires new paradigm, methods, and models. These models identify the best and most "profitable and environmentally friendly" manufacturing plans for discrete component manufacturing networks.
  • The CPS model was recently applied to the case study of some cloud-based manufacturers within Wisconsin and Illinois. The results obtained from the proposed model revealed that designers and manufacturers could take complete advantage of CPS to raise their profits and minimize environmental impacts.
  • Global Shop Solutions is a cloud-based ERP software with offices in the United States, Mexico, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. The company gives support to thousands of discrete device manufacturers in about 25 countries and 30 industries.
  • Global Shop Solutions support companies in various industries like PCB (printed circuit board) manufacturing, plastics manufacturing, truck & trailer manufacturing, automotive manufacturing, electronics manufacturing, etc.
  • A company using cloud-based or on-premise ERP solutions to deliver quality parts on time, and ensure quality control is Compac Furniture (based in New Zealand). Another example is Adek (a manufacturer of knives and saws in Mexico).
  • Global Shop Solutions ERP gives Adek visibility throughout its company. This helps Adek in creating "new products faster." The cloud-based ERP software has helped ADEK work more efficiently with two subsidiaries, Paneltec Industries and Enhance Furniture.
  • Computrol Inc. is an electronics manufacturing services of high-mix products and serves the military, medical, aerospace, broadcast, and general industry sectors. Computrol provides quick turnaround and superior-quality on lot size assembly and has manufacturing facilities in Boise and Post Falls, Idaho and Orem, Utah.
  • Using abas ERP software, Computrol, Inc. easily handles enterprise resource management and can share data with customers worldwide. Within one day Computrol, Inc. can alter any process of manufacture when the need arises according to Ray Pettengill, the IT manager of Computrol, Inc.


The research included discrete device manufacturing technology trends published by Datix Inc, Industrial Internet Consortium, Fierce Electronics, etc. We studied for trends related to discrete manufacturing, green agenda, servitization, and regional legislation changes that are driving manufacturing companies to transform their current operations. Datix Inc, Industrial Internet Consortium, and Fierce Electronics, among other resources. Published trends in discrete manufacturing gave insights that relate to the future, sustainable green agenda, servitization, and manufacturing companies. We included only trends that appear across a plethora of resources and have included laws/legislation that seeks to regulate these trends.


From Part 01