May 16, 2020

Accenture: top four innovation challenges in manufacturing

Digital Transformation
Georgia Wilson
3 min
man with robotic arm
Manufacturing Global details the four biggest challenges the manufacturing industry is facing, when it comes to digital innovation.

“Innovation is kn...

Manufacturing Global details the four biggest challenges the manufacturing industry is facing, when it comes to digital innovation.

“Innovation is known to impact much more than the direct bottom line of the product in which it is implemented,” highlighted Jorge Guzman, Assistant Professor of Business at Columbia Business School in Accenture's report on Scale Digital Innovation Like a Champion. “Besides net income for a specific product or service, innovative work also changes the capabilities of a company to tackle the future and helps them try new ideas that could be risky, but potentially highly profitable.”

While there are huge benefits to innovation and digitally transforming operations in order to exceed customer needs and expectations, the process does not come without challenges. When speaking to executives within the manufacturing industry, four key issue were repeatedly ranked as the top barriers for scaling proofing of concepts

  1. Defining digital value 

When it comes to adding digital value, ‘value’ can mean different things to different people. It is important for leaders to define and align on what it is they want to deliver to avoid the conflict to flow down the company, which can be deeply problematic.

  1. Aligning with middle management

In order to build, execute and scale up pilots and innovate efficiently, top management needs a vision for middle management to ensure that the company doesn’t fall short of its goals. 


  1. Syncing talent pools with IT assets

Currently, a lot of manufacturers are battling the challenges of legacy IT tools and solutions, as a result new systems upset business processes, requiring investment in organisational change and technology. 

“Digital technology today not only imposes new work structures but also requires new business models and rapid adjustments to accelerate innovation. The new work, delivery and business models require a new mix of skills, culture and governance that will deeply change existing organisations. Without those complementary investments in organizational change, the technology simply cannot deliver tangible results,” commented Nicolas van Zeebroeck, Professor of Innovation & Digital Business, Solvay Brussels School of Economics & Management, Université libre de Bruxelles.

  1. Aligning in-house innovation with the digital ecosystem outside

Finally, there needs to be an alignment between in-house innovation designs, with the agile digital ecosystem outside 

“Many large businesses in the EU are going after agility, sometimes obsessively so, to prepare their organisations for an ever more digital future,” van Zeebroeck said. “The first step is often to set up some agile team or digital office that springs new ideas or solutions. But most of them have a very hard time scaling these initiatives internally and externally. In many firms, agility remains an abstract concept that should apply to teams, but it’s not entirely integrated and applied by the top management itself, where it should start.”

For more information on manufacturing topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Manufacturing Global.

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Jul 30, 2021

First Solar to Invest US$684mn in Indian Energy Sector

Elise Leise
3 min
First Solar will launch an advanced PV manufacturing plant in Tamil Nadu to support Indian solar independence

First Solar is about to set up a new photovoltaic (PV) thin-film solar manufacturing facility in Tamil Nadu, India. The 3.3GW factory will create 1,000 skilled jobs and is expected to launch its operations in Q3 of 2023. According to the company, India needs 25+ gigawatts of solar energy to be deployed each year for the next nine years. This means that many of First Solar’s Indian clients will jump at the chance to have access to the company’s advanced PV. 


Said Mark Widmar, First Solar’s CEO: ‘India is an attractive market for First Solar not simply because our module technology is advantageous in its hot, humid climate. It’s an inherently sustainable market, underpinned by a growing economy and appetite for energy’. 

A Bit of Background 

First Solar is a leading global provider of photovoltaic systems. It uses advanced technology to generate clear, reliable energy around the world. And even though it’s headquartered in the US, the company has invested in storage facilities around the world. It displaced energy requirements for a desalination plant in Australia, launched a source of reliable energy in the Middle East (Dubai, UAE), and deployed over 4.5GW of energy across Europe with its First Solar modules


The company is also known for its solar innovation, reporting that it sees gains in efficiency three times faster than multi-crystalline silicon technology. First Solar holds world records in thin-film cell conversion efficiency (22.1%) and module conversion efficiency (18.2%). Finally, it helps its partners develop, finance, design, construct, and operate PV power plants—which is exactly what we’re talking about. 

How Will The Tamil Nadu Plant Work?

Tamil Nadu will use the same manufacturing template as First Solar’s new Ohio factory. According to the Times of India, the factory will combine skilled workers, artificial intelligence, machine-to-machine communication, and IoT connectivity. In addition, its operations will adhere to First Solar’s Responsible Sourcing Solar Principles, produce modules with a 2.5x lower carbon footprint, and help India become energy-independent. Said Widmar: ‘Our advanced PV module will be made in India, for India’. 


After all, we must mention that part of First Solar’s motivation in Tamil Nadu is to ensure that India doesn’t rely on Chinese solar. ‘India stands apart in the decisiveness of its response to China’s strategy of state-subsidised global dominance of the crystalline silicon supply chain’, Widmar explained. ‘That’s precisely the kind of level playing field needed for non-Chinese solar manufacturers to compete on their own merits’. 


According to First Solar, India’s model should be a template for like-minded nations. Widmar added: ‘We’re pleased to support the sustainable energy ambitions of a major US ally in the Asia-Pacific region—with American-designed solar technology’. To sum up: Indian solar power is yet the next development in the China-US trade war. Let the PV manufacturing begin. 


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