The Kula Ring

Episode 103 5G, AI, and More: A Preview of the ManufacturED Summit 2020

The Kula Ring podcast is essential listening for manufacturing marketers who want to grow their digital presence and compete online.

Sponsored by Kula Partners—an agency committed to helping leading B2B manufacturers craft digital experiences that transform how they engage buyers, serve customers, and outpace their competition—The Kula Ring podcast features conversations about marketing, sales, and technology with top manufacturing executives from across North America.

The Kula Ring podcast is co-hosted by Kula Partners principals, Carman Pirie and Jeff W. White, both of whom are frequently sought after for their digitally-focused B2B expertise. They regularly share their insights with audiences including conferences like B2B Online and HubSpot’s INBOUND, the Gardner Manufacturing Marketer blog, and other podcasts focused on B2B marketing and technology.

Leading up to the ManufacturED Summit on October 21, 2020, Jeff and Carman talk with Stephen Gold, President and CEO of the Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation (MAPI). MAPI is the organization behind the ManufacturED Summit. Topics that will be covered in depth at the Summit are previewed on the podcast, including 5G’s impact on manufacturing, the future of the U.S.-China supply chain, and AI as a puzzle piece for Industry 4.0.

5G, AI, and More: A Preview of the ManufacturED Summit 2020 Transcript:

Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White. 

Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir? 

Carman Pirie: I am doing well, and you know, always excited to have a return guest on The Kula Ring Podcast. 

Jeff White: I know. It’s only happened a few times, but it’s really interesting to see how things evolve and how people’s thinking may have changed, or who knows what’s going on. I think we all know what’s going on right now. 

Carman Pirie: It’s like that, now you’re gonna put it really on the spot, because it’s like we’re gonna play back what Stephen said last year or something, and if he contradicts himself it all, it’s like full gotcha journalism here. 

Jeff White: This podcast is known for one thing. It’s gotcha journalism. 

Carman Pirie: Yes. Indeed, indeed. We should get a little edgier. Maybe Hunter S. Thompson this up a bit more. 

Jeff White: I don’t think we have the budget. 

Carman Pirie: Among other things. 

Jeff White: Yeah. So, joining us today is Stephen Gold. Stephen is the president and CEO of MAPI, and MAPI of course is the organization behind the ManufacturED Summit, which is moving online this year. We were a sponsor and a media partner last year and happy to be doing so again, and really pleased to welcome you back to The Kula Ring, Stephen.

Stephen Gold: Thank you very much, and Jeff, just for the edification of all listeners, the full name is Manufacturers Alliance for Productivity and Innovation, but in 2021, we will be shortening that just to Manufacturers Alliance. And the last time I was with you gentlemen, we were eating deep dish pizza, Chicago pizza, and I would like to know what’s changed in the last year. Do you still prefer… We said we preferred deep dish Chicago pizza a year ago. I guess, do you like Connecticut style, New York-style, Canadian-style? What changed?

Carman Pirie: You know, there hasn’t been enough travel permitted now in the year of COVID to really get to experience many other pizzas, I guess. 

Jeff White: Oh, I wouldn’t say that that’s true, because I’ve certainly made a lot of pizzas since COVID started. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, but your own can’t count in this comparison.

Jeff White: Oh sure, but you can make them in a certain style, and I have certainly made lots of New York and Chicago pizzas, and I enjoyed them all. 

Carman Pirie: Stephen, I will say that if my memory serves, we had that deep dish pizza first thing in the morning. 

Stephen Gold: Oh my God. It was 8:00 in the morning. There you go. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah, so that was a bit of a godsend, knowing what I was likely up to the night before, given my history in Chicago. 

Stephen Gold: Brought back your college days. 

Carman Pirie: Indeed. Indeed. Well, look. Great to have you on the show, and I know that we’re looking to kind of just cover off I think a little bit of some of the emerging trends that you’re seeing, and that’s actually kind of informing many of the themes of the upcoming conference, and it’s just really exciting to be chatting with you about this. It’s one of those occasions when we have folks like you on the show and we can kind of step back from pure marketing and tactical discussions, if you will, and get a little bit more 25,000 feet, so thank you again for joining us. 

So, I think we’re gonna talk about a number of trends that you’re seeing, but let’s start with 5G and what is shaping the discussion at the conference and what has your imagination at this point. 

Stephen Gold: Sure. No. It’s a fascinating topic. We’re doing a study on 5G, and specifically the impact of 5G on manufacturing, and as I think a lot of your listeners may know, it’s being talked about, and it means something different to consumers than it does to manufacturers. For consumers, we’re talking about just the speed of the downloads. I want to watch my videos without a blip. For manufacturers, it’s a much different story, and I’m gonna use some jargon here which I’ve learned recently because we are writing this study. 

You’re talking about low latency, so it’s really real-time delivery of information. You’re talking about connection density, which is how much can you deliver in terms of information over a certain time. But then connectivity, more and more devices can be connected, and so if you think about how the manufacturing world is changing, the factory especially, that has a lot of implications. And if you, as you guys are wont to do, feel free to interrupt, but now let me run through just a couple of the things that we’re finding.

First of all, needless to say, 5G is gonna have an enormous… It’s gonna be a game-changer for the industrial internet of things or industry 4.0, whichever you prefer to call it. Just considering the sheer volume of data that’s gonna be able to be swapped and streamed, and again, you’re gonna have that low latency, so you’re gonna have real-time delivery. There’s a kind of a corollary to that, and that’s another discussion we’re gonna be having, and that’s on smart factories. So, 5G will ensure you have private networks, which is really gonna boost the implementation of smart factory developments. You’re gonna have better-connected systems, streamlined automation that can predict problems as they’re going on, see problems in real-time. And there is a couple of other really interesting potential… Now, all of this is potential, right? 

So, and you have a bunch of different companies working on 5G, manufacturing companies, and they’re different stages, but one of the most important aspects is going to be that factories historically have not used Wi-Fi. Just not strong enough. Everything’s been fixed cable. Fixed-line. And this is going to eliminate the need for fixed lines. You’re gonna have wireless routers that are going to… You’re not gonna have cables there anymore, and you’re gonna see a lot more flexibility in the factories. Production lines are gonna be able to be moved and redesigned much more quickly. 

Another thing that I think is fascinating is what you’re gonna see, and you’ve probably heard this coming up, but augmented reality headsets and glasses. 5G’s gonna allow that to be much faster. Historically, or up until this point, most of these devices are connected, and this is going to allow it to be just wireless, so people are gonna be allowed to… Employees can walk around the factory floor, and they’re gonna be able to see things that are flaws in design, or problems, troubleshoot, in the process in real-time. And the final thing I want to mention, there’s a lot more, but I just want to mention, is edge computing, which again, just a new technology. Everybody knows what cloud computing is. Edge computing’s what I call localized cloud computing. Basically, it’s you’re collecting data and you’re analyzing it, but it’s much closer to the source. 

What does that mean? It means better privacy. It means a better security level. Because the wireless router, everything can be collected, edge computing’s going to be collected and analyzed at the factory level, or in that… Basically, that area is a lot less susceptible to security problems. 

Carman Pirie: Man, this is totally the area more in Jeff’s purview than mine. I mean, I feel like I’m way out over my skis here, but even when we’re talking about augmented reality and saying, “Historically.” That’s 2020 for you. I mean, things are moving faster than I think people give it credit for sometimes. 

Stephen Gold: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and by the way, VR and AR have actually been around for a while, but none of us have been able to really… It’s used for games, for kids right now. Just imagine what it’s gonna be like used in healthcare and in the manufacturing world. 

Jeff White: Well, I remember from the summit last year, I believe it was Raj Batra from Siemens who was talking about the digital twinning of the manufactured good and its digital twin, and kind of being able to test. I can totally see how 5G would come into play there, being able to stream high-definition models to some form of screen on the factory floor, so that it can be compared against what’s actually being produced. I mean, that’s gotta be a game-changer. 

Stephen Gold: Yeah. It will be. It’s exciting, but it is something that is compared to what you’re seeing in automation and robotics, 5G is something that’s coming down the line, but in terms of the full implementation, we’re a few years away from it. 

Jeff White: I just hope the iPhone 13 picks it up. 

Carman Pirie: The one thing that we’re not a few years away from, I don’t think, is the next trend that we’re going to discuss, this concept of the new workspace. I think that’s a bit more sooner versus later. But Stephen, talk to me about what you mean when you say the new workspace. I have a few ideas, but-

Stephen Gold: Yeah. Well, it’s gonna mean a lot of things to a lot of people, right? So, I’m not sure if you saw the Cushman & Wakefield, that’s that huge commercial real estate firm out of Chicago, they had a survey, I think it was summertime, and they said three-quarters of workers globally believe that their employer should embrace flexible or remote working. So, in some ways, and it’s like Siemens has already announced this, Google’s already announced it, many of their workforce, corporate level, are going to be working remotely much of the time in the future. This is just… And it’s true for companies as small as mine. It’s true for manufacturers. You’re gonna see a lot more virtual or what some people call remote or mobile work in the future.  But what we’re talking about here more specifically really is what’s going on at the factory floor, and this is a case in which Raj at Siemens, they’ve come up with a software and technology that will allow companies to actually create a production line and plant design that allows people to interact, but it’s much safer for them. Workflows are more efficient. And again, you mentioned digital twin. This is a digital twin concept here, as well. And Siemens is not the only one that’s created this. A number of companies are working with it, as well. But a digital twin allows them to see exactly where some of the flaws could be, so they’re actually able to see. We’re creating a workspace, a factory floor, a shop floor that looks like this and let’s simulate what worker safety looks like. Let’s simulate how we might optimize the workspace layouts. 

And by doing that, a company can actually… It’s not just experimenting. It’s actually gonna be able to say, and they’re implementing it now, they can say, “This is going to be, from now on, we’re going to see workflows like this.” This is the future, right? This isn’t something which was a bad case of the flu and people had to stay home. This has really just altered the way that factories are going to operate in the future in terms of safety for workers, which in turn will lead to greater efficiencies. 

Carman Pirie: Are you really seeing… I mean, as we think about this, and I don’t want to jump too far ahead into our U.S.-China discussion, but obviously one component of that is a shift in supply chains and a shift in manufacturing locations, et cetera. It all seems to point in some way to a resurgence in investment in these new factories here in North America. Are you fairly bullish on that? Is that what you’re seeing as you look ahead?

Stephen Gold: Well, our CEOs… So, we did a survey of our CEOs and CFOs, and as a reminder, our companies are generally global, and a lot of them do business in China and have production in China, and a survey we did this summer shows that there is a decoupling, an economic decoupling from China, and part of it is public policy-driven, government-driven, but part of it… And yes, we will talk about this in a bit, because it’s a pretty heavy topic. But part of it’s just because of what happened with the supply chains. The supply chains were proven to be far more fragile than we expected. In fact, there were a couple I want to just mention. There are two glaring deficiencies in U.S. manufacturing. One was the fragility of the global value chain. It’s not just U.S. manufacturing. This is manufacturers across the world and they’re reevaluating their supply chains now. You’re gonna see a more localized supply chain. Definitely in the U.S., but in other countries as well. 

By the way, as an aside, we also saw obviously there’s a deficiency of certain essential goods and materials. We knew about it already, because China was kind of… had monopolized the rare earth minerals, and that was from a decade ago. That goes into technological products. But now pharmaceutical ingredients, and you’re seeing a push to get those onshored again. So, we are seeing, and in combination with that, related but not directly related, we’re seeing a lot of companies saying they’re going to increase their investment in smart manufacturing. They’re going to do a lot more. You’re gonna see… And that is tied directly to what we’ll call is the smart manufacturing ecosystem, where you have not only the production is tied together, is linked together, coordinated, but so is the supply chain’s linked to that, distribution chain is linked to that, all of that has been accelerated because of what has occurred over the last six months. 

It was going to, it could, may well have already been a trend, but it was so under the radar, nobody saw it. This has just accelerated that. 

Announcer: Manufacturing is undergoing a rapid transformation and MAPI’s annual leadership summit, ManufacturED Online, will be exploring the many issues faced by the industrial sector. Join us on October 21st from 1:00 to 4:00 PM Eastern for this virtual summit. The Kula Ring is proud to be a media partner again this year. Register now using the promo code KULARING20 and save 20%. Just go to ManufacturEDSummit.com or follow the link on our podcast page. Hope to see you there. 

Carman Pirie: I’ve gotta say I think it’s exciting to see the opportunity sitting in the middle of all of this, you know? I think this conversation is helping to highlight it. But look, let’s just jump further into the China-U.S. discussion, because I know that that is one of the themes of the upcoming conference, and it’s I guess the impact that it’ll have on manufacturers. Talk to us. 

Stephen Gold: So, of course, I can’t, I have not seen, and I can’t tell you what our guest speaker, Rob Atkinson, who’s an expert in this area, is going to be talking about. Generally, I’ve read a number of his pieces in the past year and in the past six months, but let’s kind of give it a baseline for listeners to understand. So, right now there’s kind of three positions in how the U.S. should deal with China. The first position is the status quo and a lot of that is coming out of the Treasury Department. They want to keep a strong dollar, and so basically just, “It’s okay. Yeah, the Chinese will cheat a little, but we can deal with this. We’ve dealt with this in the past.” 

The second position is to negotiate a more level playing field. Let’s come up with an agreement with China which we kind of make sure they’re not stealing our IP, they’re not requiring technology transfers. The third position, and it’s based on the thought that the first two positions are just unrealistic, and that is called the decoupling theory, where we’re decoupling. You’re seeing the administration, Trump Administration’s doing that through sales, preventing sales into this country, preventing transfers of technology over there, but we’re talking about really more of a market-based decoupling strategy, and this is what Rob talks about. 

He talks about let’s come up with a strategy where we can help nations, like Vietnam, and like Mexico, become alternative centers for foreign production. Now, can we bring that stuff back into this country? We could, but realistically because of labor costs, they’re probably not gonna come back to this country, and this is where the USMCA, by the way, is a good start, right? So, now we’re treating Mexico more as a partner. And Rob is also a big proponent of coming up with allies in Asia and in the Pacific area, so he wants to kind of bring the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, which died a few years back, back into existence to create a base of allies in the Pacific area that we can deal with, that we can supply. We can sell to and that we can have supply us and such. 

One other thing I think Rob, an idea that Rob has come up with another economist, which I think is really a good one, he calls it DATO. The Democratic Allied Trade Organization, as in like in NATO, but DATO. But this would be allied countries that come together and when China threatens economic intimidation, and it does that a lot, then they would band together to prevent that kind of aggression. I mean, you just saw recently Europe wanted to go ahead and look at, at least take a closer look at what China’s doing with its corporate subsidies, and China threatened to bar Ericsson and Nokia sales into China, so the EU backed off. And an organization like DATO would basically… The E.U, and the U.S., and Canada, and Australia, and others would come together, Japan, would come together and say, “Hey, if they do that, why don’t we get together and do the same thing to their companies?” 

So, anyway, that’s kind of the core of the issue that we’re facing. I think most people in manufacturing especially, even if they do business in China, would say that we’ve got to do something about Chinese theft of IP and this kind of forced transfer of technologies, which has really hurt our own technological advantages. 

Carman Pirie: It’s really interesting to consider how global manufacturers really have to be shifting from a posture of pure kind of global, free-market thinking, to there are much more politically driven, politically sensitive issues at play. They’re going to be expected to work more collaboratively with governments, and I know you mentioned the Trump Administration and some of what they’ve… But my understanding of it is I think it’s the same on both sides of the aisle, that we’re likely to see this type of I guess more kind of national policy-driven kind of environment. It’s a very interesting time and it’s curious, too, to consider how it impacts… I mean, most of our listeners work more in the marketing function, of course, but this changes how organizations will need to communicate, how they need to manage their reputation, what that means, government relations, to what extent does that become a more important part of their communications apparatus? All of this needs to be considered. 

Stephen Gold: Well, first of all, government relations have always been important, but you’re exactly right. I think what you’ve seen, and it’s amazing how fast this can happen, but a global pandemic will do this. All of a sudden, a lot of countries, and the U.S. and the E.U. included countries, are looking to protect national champion issues, right? They’re saying, “What is it that’s critical?” It’s not just healthcare. And that’s of course what’s on the news in this country, in the U.S., is the fact that we had shortages of certain pharmaceutical ingredients, we had shortages of PPE, but it’s important for a manufacturing perspective, what do we need to make here that we shouldn’t be…

It’s pretty well known that the Chinese have been… We outsourced components for defense purposes to Chinese companies, and now we’re the U.S., and the E.U., and other countries are taking a look at that and saying, “Look, there have got to be certain advanced technologies, and national security industries, that we just need to have a closer hand on, closer monitoring on, and so you are seeing that. It’s amazing how fast that’s moving. We’ll see what happens in this country, but you’re seeing it move pretty fast in the E.U. 

Jeff White: It’s gonna be interesting, too, just to see how that changes how American and North American companies choose to export, as well. Of course, China is a massive market, and those sorts of measures certainly bring a… They’re going to have the same issues bringing American products into China as we might bringing Chinese products or components into North America. So, I wonder if these kinds of things eventually level out and allow more direct trade between these nations, but I think that’s a long way in the future at this point, eh? 

Stephen Gold: Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. But that is why I think Rob Atkinson, again, one of the speakers at the conference, his concept of a DATO is important. Because let’s face it, China is a huge market. If you’re an auto company and you want to sell in China, I mean if you want to sell somewhere, let’s face it. You got a billion and a half people, so it’s something which we have to I think… Manufacturers who are gonna be more cautious about it, but I think they’re gonna follow the leads of their government leaders. 

Carman Pirie: And I know that Rob will be shining a lot of insight into this area as you so rightly mentioned. He’s incredibly expert in the field and a real, I think a real success point of the conference to have that kind of caliber of talent speaking at it. So, I know that we kind of briefly touched on AI, but I did have that jotted down as something we may kind of dive into further. But to be fair, I think we’ve bounced around a bit, so I don’t know if we’ve already covered that or not, Stephen. 

Stephen Gold: Well, look. Let’s face it. AI is an incredibly important part of and a necessity for conversion or transformation to industry 4.0. And you’re seeing it in all sorts of areas, right? You’re seeing it in obviously the machine-to-machine communications and development of more advanced robotics. You’re seeing it in these hand-worn devices, these wearable technologies, and which are gonna be useful. Obviously, they’re useful in the healthcare field already, but they’re going to be useful in factory floors because people with headsets that have heads-up displays are going to actually be able to see. This is like Microsoft has the HoloLens, but they’re gonna actually be able to see problems. It’s gonna be a mixed reality glasses, where they can see problems that aren’t obviously accessible to the visible eye. 

But you’re gonna see that also. AI is going to actually allow a transformation in the distribution of goods, which is what Amazon has done. We call it the Amazonization of manufacturing, where they’re switching from the warehouse model to flexible distribution processes because AI can actually help them detect where they should have local production and local distribution. 

So, there are a lot of different areas in which artificial intelligence, and it’s like so many of the other technologies. You have 3D printing, and you have artificial intelligence, and you have advanced automation. Just lots and lots of new technologies that are going to ensure that we have a much different looking manufacturing sector in the next 10 years. 

Carman Pirie: It’s an exciting time, Stephen, and I thank you for joining us on the show today and just kind of I guess lifting the curtain a little bit on the conference that’s coming up, and look, it’s an exciting time to be hosting a conference, as well, I should note. First time going I think fully online for your organization. Anything you might like to highlight for our listeners? 

Stephen Gold: You mean for the conference itself? 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. 

Stephen Gold: Yeah. It’s gonna be kind of a typical… For those who are familiar with my organization, we like to bring hands-on practical solutions, so this is why we have like Siemens talking there, and Microsoft is gonna be talking there about things like wearable AI-driven technology and such. It’s just a chance for manufacturing executives to get into a room, or in this case, a virtual room, and listen to experts talk about issues that are, and solutions to some of the problems they’re struggling with. Some true experts, people they have who have great respect, credibility, and what is it, a couple of hours of the time, and as long as somebody walks away with a few nuggets that they’re gonna take back to their corporate offices, that they’re gonna take back to the shop floor, wherever that’s what we expect, and all of our conferences are like that. We just want people to basically… We’re trying to help executives make smart decisions, smarter decisions, business decisions. 

Carman Pirie: Well, Stephen, I’m excited for it. I know that if it’s anything like last year, just an incredible caliber of folks sharing their knowledge with an incredibly engaged audience, so it’s one of those… I think the size and scale of the conference, and I think that’s going to communicate digitally quite nicely. Just it fits nicely, and I think it’s exciting to be a part of it. I thank you for having The Kula Ring as a media sponsor and we look forward to it. 

Stephen Gold: Good. And hopefully, I’ll see you guys in Cleveland in the spring in person. 

Carman Pirie: Yeah. 

Jeff White: That would be great. 

Carman Pirie: Fingers crossed. Fingers crossed that April conferences are a go, and I’ll admit I’ve been to what feels like sometimes every American city, but I have never been to Cleveland. 

Stephen Gold: Well, the pizza there is great. 

Jeff White: That’s how we’ll judge it, for sure. 

Carman Pirie: I have an uncle who is a contrarian Cleveland fan for every sports team, so that’s my introduction of Cleveland. 

Jeff White: There you go. Stephen, where can people find out more about the conference? 

Stephen Gold: Well, if they want to type in ManufacturEDSummit.com, so it’s ManufacturED with an E-D. ManufacturEDSummit, one word, dot com. They can pull up the agenda. Take a look at it. 

Carman Pirie: And of course, we’ll be sure to link to it, as well. 

Jeff White: Absolutely. 

Stephen Gold: Fantastic. 

Jeff White: Thanks for joining us. 

Stephen Gold: Gentlemen, always, always good to talk to you. 

Carman Pirie: A pleasure. Take care, now. 

Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring, with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at www.paintcole.com/thekularing. That’s K-U-L-Apartners.com/thekularing.

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