North Florida Manufacturing and Logistics Corridor aims to grow sectors in the region
On 27 February, a consortium of four economic development organisations launched the North Florida Manufacturing and Logistics Corridor.
The consortium includes Great Northwest, Opportunity Florida, the North Florida Economic Development Partnership, and JAXUSA Partnership.
The initiative aims to push growth in the industries across 34 Floridian counties, between Pensacola in the West and Jacksonville in the East, featuring 1.5mn people within the workforce.
The corridor is 362 miles long, and features several major cities, such as Pensacola, Tallahassee, Lake City, and Jacksonville.
The firms plan to generate opportunities and projects within the manufacturing, logistics, and distributions sectors.
By covering so much land and population, the North Florida Manufacturing and Logistics Corridor can focus not only on large, urban cities, but also rural communities.
The project will target 20mn people within Florida and 58mn around the state, and partner with 60 institutions within education with the intentions of progressing future generations.
North Florida is a hub for the manufacturing industry, hosting huge manufacturing corporations such as Boeing, GE, Georgia Pacific, Johnson & Johnson and WestPoint Home.
The north of the state also features substantial integrated infrastructures – deep-water ports, international airports, rail lines, and interstates.
Gartner: Leaders Lack Skilled Smart Manufacturing Workers
With organisations rapidly adopting industry 4.0 capabilities to increase productivity, efficiency, transparency, and quality as well as reduce cost, manufacturers “are under pressure to bring their workforce into the 21st century,” says Gartner.
While more connected factory workers are leveraging digital tools and data management techniques to improve decision accuracy, increase knowledge and lessen variability, 57% of manufacturing leaders feel that their organisations lack the skilled workers needed to support their smart manufacturing digitalisation plans.
“Our survey revealed that manufacturers are currently going through a difficult phase in their digitisation journey toward smart manufacturing,” said Simon Jacobson, Vice President analyst, Gartner Supply Chain practice.
“They accept that changing from a break-fix mentality and culture to a data-driven workforce is a must. However, intuition, efficiency and engagement cannot be sacrificed. New workers might be tech-savvy but lack access to best practices and know-how — and tenured workers might have the knowledge, but not the digital skills. A truly connected factory worker in a smart manufacturing environment needs both.”
Surveying 439 respondents from North America, Western Europe and APAC, Gartner found that “organisational complexity, integration and process reengineering are the most prevalent challenges for executing smart manufacturing initiatives.” Combined they represent “the largest change management obstacle [for manufacturers],” adds Gartner.
“It’s interesting to see that leadership commitment is frequently cited as not being a challenge. Across all respondents, 83% agree that their leadership understands and accepts the need to invest in smart manufacturing. However, it does not reflect whether or not the majority of leaders understand the magnitude of change in front of them – regarding technology, as well as talent,” added Jacobson.
Technology and People
While the value and opportunities smart manufacturing can provide an organisation is being recognised, introducing technology alone isn’t enough. Gartner emphasises the importance of evolving factory workers alongside the technology, ensuring that they are on board in order for the change to be successful.
“The most immediate action is for organisations to realize that this is more than digitisation. It requires synchronising activities for capability building, capability enablement and empowering people. Taking a ‘how to improve a day in the life’ approach will increase engagement, continuous learning and ultimately foster a pull-based approach that will attract tenured workers. They are the best points of contact to identify the best starting points for automation and the required data and digital tools for better decision-making,” said Jacobson.
Long term, “it is important to establish a data-driven culture in manufacturing operations that is rooted in governance and training - without stifling employee creativity and ingenuity,” concluded Gartner.