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Manufacturing accounts for a significant percentage of any economy. Growing faster than any other sector the industry however faces a number of challenges that it must overcome to compete successfully in an increasingly boundary less market place.

With the manufacturing seeking to improving productivity and lower labor costs, automation of key manufacturing functions such as assembly, packaging, welding and spray painting is inevitable. In 2016 and beyond, Internet of Things (IoT) and the emerging Industrial IoT (IIoT) are likely game changers and so are big data, Information Technology (IT) and Operational Technology (OT) convergence. Internet of industrial sensors, industrial big data analytics, 3D printing, Industrial Mobile Apps and BYOD, Industrial Cyber security, Intelligent Device Management, Integration of automation and electrical technologies are just many of the directions that the manufacturing industrial is likely need to address, for competitive advantage in the global marketplace.

Manufacturing in India is thriving. Yet recruiter struggle to find right talent on time. In addition, HR Managers face their own unique challenges when it comes to employee retention, training, maintaining productivity, succession planning and controlling turnover. The problem is, the average age of a skilled manufacturing worker is in early 50s, almost near retirement age and there are fewer juniors moving up through the ranks to replace them, with even fewer new graduates looking to enter the sector on the ground floor. The industry has taken to outsourcing/insourcing some of its talent requirements in recent years to fill emerging need in the short term but will likely need to work with qualified manpower & staffing partners to bridge this gap.

Reskilling as an ongoing process not only helps in employee retention, growth planning but also in attracting newer talent in the organization. But rather than treat this as a sporadic activity driven out of necessity, HR and line function managers in the manufacturing industry need to look at enhancing employee learning and knowledge as a strategic function to engage and manage their shop-floor workforce.

Adhering to industry standards and being compliant helps fine tune performance, reduce business risk, become more sustainable and encourages innovation. In addition, standards lay out good practice for carrying out a whole range of services and the processes and systems that underpin them. They also help build a work environment and organization culture essential for delivery of high quality services, consistently and over longer term. In an increasingly interconnected global marketplace, standards help establish a common language and while accurately defining service requirements, customer expectations and recognized terms and definitions.

Industry 4.0, an umbrella term coined by the Germans to define the growing influence of Internet of Things (IoT) in modern day manufacturing practices, is something that the manufacturing industry to address in 2016 and beyond.