Future of Manufacturing is Bright as 53 percent Kenya Firms Plan to Automate Services

Mark Wilson SYSPRO
Mark Wilson, MD SYSPRO Africa

Mark Wilson SYSPROIn a market that is striving to bump up the performance of its manufacturing sector, it can safely be concluded that the industry is lagging behind, at least as far as the roadmap towards achieving the goals set forth by the Big 4 Agenda and Vision 2030 is concerned. The state of manufacturing in Kenya was examined by SYSPRO, the technology firm that provides ERP services to companies, with the help of Strathmore University. The findings of the investigation were announced a couple of days ago.

“In a connected society, every contributor plays a vital role. Government is driving strong trade policy to support the BIG 4 initiatives. Associations ensure they build a strong pro-industry policy,” said Mark Wilson, MD SYSPRO Africa.

Currently, manufacturing processes are transitioning from traditional forms to modern practices that largely entail automation. It is a crucial technology that admittedly improves the quality and quantity of manufactured products. According to SYSPRO, automation is specially critical in developing economies such as Kenya due to the shortage of skilled workers.

Executives from the company highlighted that people have always had a misinformed impression of the idea of automation that has been conceived with the aim of eliminating the human factor from the manufacturing sector. Contrary to this misconception, many of the technologies in the field are exploring new grounds in manufacturing, and in the process, they have created new disciplines that call for new skills and qualifications as it has been the case with AI and data science.

Insights from the report

The report, which, as mentioned, was put together by SYSPRO and Strathmore University established that the manufacturing space primarily features food and beverage, textiles and apparel, energy, electrical and electronics, as well as timber, wood and furniture. Manufacturing that covers automotive, power, leather and footwear are at least represented in the local scene.

During the investigation period, it was noted that most manufacturing firms are medium sized at 56 percent (companies with more than 300 workers). The majority of these organizations are semi-automated at 83 percent, and only 11 percent are fully automated.

At the same time, SYSPRO found out that local companies are expanding their turf with capital financing. Companies are reportedly using funds to drive product development, advertising and marketing, as well as hardware and software investments. Local firms perform self-financing schemes to grow their business, which include loans from banks, invoicing and shares.

About 70 percent of the companies under study were involved in manufacturing and production, with support and product traceability receiving the least attention. Also, only 46 percent of the sampled companies run a full 8 hours a day. Amid plans to make the economy a 24-hour affair, it was reported that only 50 percent of manufacturing firms operated 3 to 5 days a week.

The report states that 53% of the studied manufacturing businesses have plans in the pipeline to upgrade their hardware and software. However, the path towards meeting the goal continues to be curtailed by high costs and technical skills and expertise gaps.

The future

It is apparent that future implementations of automation practices in companies do not augur well with a lot of people. Issues such as mass unemployment have been raised, but this is not the case as reiterated by SYSPRO:

By 2025, the 4th industrial revolution will see the creation of up to 130M jobs across the globe (although 75M jobs will be lost in the process)

Industrial experts are honing the current state of automation tools such as robots for multifunctional purposes. This way, one robot can be used to perform a variety of functions. What’s more, robots will predictably have more capabilities, and like human beings, they will finally make decisions and work without supervision. A lot of work has explored the possibility of integrating predictive maintenance and self-diagnostic capabilities as championed by AI.

Finally, the world has more tools than ever to address inefficiencies in the manufacturing industry while monitoring and automating to ensure continuous and lean manufacturing process with minimal technical setbacks.