The Future of Manufacturing course considers how manufacturing is presently being disrupted by emerging technologies; how the future of manufacturing could potentially be shaped by these technologies; and the likely implications of these changes for both the South African and the broader African manufacturing sector. The course is exploratory in design and applies a range of strategic tools to interrogate and engage with disruptive markets and social and technological forces that are re-framing the future of manufacturing globally.
In the first part of the course, Dr Justin Barnes and Dr Malika Khodja-Mōller introduce course participants to a set of innovation tools and then explore the rapid rise of the range of “Industry 4.0” disruptors that are presently challenging manufacturing business models. These include the Internet of Things (IoT) and industrial IoT, the use of “big data”, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), additive manufacturing (3D printing), the use of new Nano-technology-based materials and the rapidly emerging meta-verse, which is being driven by virtual reality advancements. We consider the consequences of these technology disruptions for markets and the value chains that supply them and explore how the range of technology disruptions are likely to frame how manufacturing is organized. Will manufacturing remain organized in the same way, or are new platform-based business models likely to emerge? Is the South African and broader African manufacturing sector closeted from these technology developments, or will changes occur in the same manner as being observed in developed economy markets?
The second part of the course starts with immersion experiences in TWIMS’ Management Sandbox, which has a state-of-the-art “Industry 4.0” demonstration line encompassing Industrial IoT, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Big Data Analytics and Machine Learning, and 3D printing. On completion of the immersion, course participants are allocated to project teams to work on the application of their learnings. Using opportunities and challenges facing firms represented within the course, the teams prepare presentations to a “mock” board advocating for company resource deployment in response to a technology disruptor. Once teams have presented their findings, a consolidation session exploring the strategic consequences of the material covered for participating companies completes the course.