According to Industry Week, the next generation of manufacturing includes more reliance on robotics and automation, more software embedded in products, 3-D printing and sensor-enabled machines.

As Warren Smith, senior industry consultant and business strategy architect, explained "core business systems will be critical for manufacturing companies that want to be part of the next generation of the industry."

So the question is: Are you ready?

As I read Smith's article, the first thing that jumped out at me was WOW, there is a lot of data that will need to be managed. With the emergence of smart parts there is the opportunity to capture more data than ever before. And with all of this data comes the ability to make better business decisions down the line, if it's managed properly. So plan ahead.

According to Smith, "It is important that manufacturing organizations team up with the right software partners that can provide integrated systems to seamlessly collect, manage and analysis this wealth of data."

Second, the number of mechanical "parts" has greatly diminished while the number of electronic components, software and firmware has exploded. With this complexity, requirements skyrocket. Businesses will need to organize, track and manage all of the different requirements to ensure customer satisfaction. To learn more about the increased complexity of products, I recommend this presentation on Integrated Requirements Management for Systems Engineering by our very own Marc Lind.

Finally, with the growth of robotics, there will be less people involved in the manufacturing process. To ensure accuracy in production, there will need to be automated workflows with product reviews, and there will need to be added checks and balances to prohibit errors from going into production.

So what does all of this mean for manufacturers? Smith said it best: "If a manufacturer makes an informed decision to embrace technology with a progressive, flexible architecture, that manufacturer is prepared to attain success."

Smith recommends that manufacturers "do the research; find the partner that has a broad scope of manufacturing and expertise in these leading trends and is willing to work with you to get to the next step." I couldn't agree more.

Make sure you're prepared for the next generation of manufacturing by equipping your business with the next generation of PLM. Watch this demo to see how Aras can take your company to the future.