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Digital Manufacturing: 2021 State of Manufacturing Report, 3 Key Takeaways



by Dave Evans, CEO & Co-Founder – Fictiv

We create Fictiv’s annual State of Manufacturing (*1) report to gain insight into the current trends, goals, and concerns in the industry. In 2021, our survey of hundreds of manufacturing executives showed that driving supply chain resilience (*2) and new product introduction (NPI) are keys to success in a post-COVID world.

Because these topics are at the top of my mind, too, I brought together Amazon Web Services (AWS) Worldwide Business Development leader, Michael Putnik, Honeywell Aerospace VP of Manufacturing Engineering John Hobgood, and Jake Hall — who chronicles the industry as the Manufacturing Millennial — to discuss them.

The group has the acumen and experience to talk about supply chains and NPI in-depth and provides insight on multiple topics, including using data analytics and automation to strengthen supply chains and resolve workforce challenges, and fast-tracking manufacturing innovation.

1. Build Supply Chain Resilience With Analytics & Automation

Planning for future disruptions and creating resilience in the supply chain are areas of focus and investment as Honeywell Aerospace ramps back up to meet resurgent demand. Hobgood’s team is taking a data-driven approach to identifying the aircraft platforms that will be most in-demand initially. From there, they determine the highest impact areas in their supply chain where they can compress cycle times. Knowing those areas of critical impact also tells them where they may need multiple suppliers in place to keep up with demand and maintain quality.

“Manufacturing companies need to understand at a much deeper level of detail where they can improve their supply chain — there are clearly higher impact areas that you need to ensure are more robust first,” said Hobgood. “There is so much data out there helping identify which of our products and platforms will ramp up first. You really need good data analytics to do that.”

While analytics are important for Amazon, automation has also played a crucial role in creating the company’s flexible and robust supply chains. “While resilience is a new term for some,” said Putnik, “it’s something we’ve lived and breathed at Amazon for many years.”

For Amazon, automated routing and an ability to identify bottlenecks have proven critical to providing the right customer experience — it’s how they make sure that products promised to arrive at 2 pm on Thursday, do. Because it has such a vast network of suppliers, Putnik said that Amazon developed a templatized, automated approach to working with them. During the pandemic, analytics helped identify in-demand products and efficiently balance supply and demand.

I found it incredible that the pandemic made data-driven resilience a top concern for such disparate companies — one, a traditional OEM with 100 years of experience, and the other an original dotcom with automation hardwired into its DNA since day one. Despite their differences, they both face changed expectations within their supply chains.

As consumers have learned to expect delivery on specific dates and times, Hobgood explained that sort of transparency is now the default expectation for supply chain managers. The new conventional thought is: “if my phone can tell me a package is two blocks away, why can’t I expect the same for my aerospace component?”

Putnik believes the key to meeting these expectations is through accurate forecasting using data. Amazon has grown adept at forecasting vertically within silos, but still has difficulty working horizontally to match supply with forecasted demand.

2. Train Your Talent to Work With Automation

In addition to providing a supply chain solution, many see automation as a way to deal with an industry-wide shortage of skilled labor. A range of factors are leaving manufacturers struggling to maintain a skilled workforce, but it’s not just a recruiting issue. And it’s important to note that the industry shift to automation isn’t focused on replacing people with machines — it’s looking for areas where robots can work cooperatively with humans to create more efficient workflows.

Hall said that automation is a critical part of compensating for the lack of workers, but it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. He believes that the real key is in keeping and training existing workers. “Manufacturers are more focused on employee retention than ever before. They realize if someone leaves, there’s no one to replace them. If you can’t hire controls engineers or robot programmers, you can train the people you have.”

Hobgood agreed and doubled down on the idea of developing people internally. Not only does Honeywell invest in management to help guide employees, but it also works to identify critical skills gaps and create training to develop those skills in team members. “If you’re not investing in your people adding new skills to manage these new digital threads and automation, you’re not going to win in today’s environment.”

3. Build an Express Lane for Innovation

Winning in 2021 isn’t just about leveraging data and automation technology to strengthen your supply chain and your labor pool. Learning how to innovate and accelerate new product introduction in a time of upheaval and disruption can provide a crucial competitive advantage, too.

Honeywell’s already doing the work. Hobgood described how he helped create a sort of HOV lane for new ideas at the company because Honeywell’s traditional systems and supply chains became barriers to innovation. The HOV lane is a parallel workflow that prioritizes flexibility and speed, but has controls to ensure the same compliance and quality the company normally achieves with traditional methods. That process is now Honeywell developed a new UV cabin system in response to pandemic needs and put it into the market within one month.

On-demand manufacturing can supercharge innovation at any company, and it’s not just Honeywell who’s realized its advantages. 84% of leaders surveyed for the 2021 State of Manufacturing Report are already using an on-demand manufacturing platform. They know that those platforms’ highly vetted and skilled networks aid in the design and manufacturing process and provide the speed and quality they need to compete and win.

Two years ago, many, if not most industry observers were betting that it would take a decade for on-demand manufacturing to go mainstream. With the pandemic serving as a forcing function, that digital transformation happened in a year.

Fictiv sits at the center of this evolution by combining world-class software tools and manufacturing operations people to digitize and future-proof manufacturing. The “next normal” is here (*3), and the operative question isn’t “what did you digitize,” but rather “what didn’t you?”

To learn more, watch the full conversation (*4) live-stream panel discussion via the link to the below.

Author Bio:

DAVE EVANS Fictiv CEO and Co-founder. Prior to Fictiv, Dave was the first hire at Ford’s Silicon Valley Lab and focused on shortening development cycles for infotainment systems. He has a degree in Mechanical Engineering from Stanford University and was named on Forbes’ 30 Under 30 list.

Resource links:

  1. Fictiv’s 2022 annual State of Manufacturing report
  2. Ten Trends Shaping the Future of Supply Chain Management
  3. 2021 State Of Manufacturing: Digital Transformation Is The Key To Winning In The “Next Normal”
  4. 2021 State of Manufacturing Live-stream Expert Panel Discussion
  5. Further information on Dave Evans via Fictiv website


Changing the Speed of the Possible: Digital Manufacturing Customer Success Series



by Joanne Moretti, CRO – Fictiv

This week: Digital Manufacturing that unlocks AR-Powered Manufacturing

As the Chief Revenue Officer at Fictiv, I take at least 5 hours a week, sometimes more, to be curious about how our customers use the Fictiv Digital Manufacturing platform and the business impact they get from it.  This exercise is important to learning and driving towards our mission of “enabling innovators to create”. 

And we don’t want them just “creating” we want them to do it quickly to achieve the competitive advantage or first-mover advantage they seek.  In this article and future ones, I will share some of my findings in the hopes of loosening up status quo thinking around both what’s possible, and the speed of what’s possible, especially as our customers navigate these unchartered and extremely choppy supply chain waters.

Today’s story is about an innovator called Mira Labs.  It discusses how they successfully developed and commercialised a smartphone-powered augmented reality system that helps to digitise and document workflows and connect frontline workers through hands-free AR glasses up into enterprise-ready software/workflows.  The Art of the Possible is strong with them.  

Mira Labs’ challenges though involved the Speed of the Possible or the lack thereof.  Specifically, they were having difficulty finding a manufacturing partner that could supply high-quality custom parts without a costly investment in tooling.  They noted that their favourite feature of our Digital Manufacturing Ecosystem (“DME”) was access to HP Multi Jet Fusion capabilities for rapid production of fully functional, cost-effective units.  Read that again, no CAPEX. 

In addition to CAPEX-free access to high-end 3D Printing resources and capabilities, our digital manufacturing platform is “swiss” in nature, in that its AI-powered computational geometry engine (“compgeo engine”) has no biases towards any one particular manufacturing approach, OEM printing, or machining platform, process, or material.  Instead, this “brain” picks the BEST tool/process/materials/geography for the job based on the user-selected variables when configuring their part online! 

Variables like lead time desired, materials, process, secondary process, and logistics all go into our compgeo engine to help engineers and supply chain managers (our typical users) determine the cost to build something.  In addition to these variables, machine-generated or human design for manufacturability feedback is available to the user to help them build it right.

The fastest quoting time achieved on the platform is 14 seconds, with an average time of a few minutes.  Compared to traditional quoting for mechanical parts, which ranges in the days and weeks, speed is delivered from the get-go.  Not to mention, the sourcing, vetting, PO creation time, quality checking, etc. that goes into custom part fabrication.

The Result: High-quality, customer-ready units at cycle time reductions overall of 40% or more.

“Mira Labs’ Prism headset is an enterprise-grade wearable that allows businesses to deploy augmented reality,” says Haley Harrington, product design engineer at Mira Labs. “Mira avoids the high barriers to entry often associated with AR, including managing and securing new devices, as well as prohibitive cost.”

The Challenge: Overcoming Slow Production Cycles While Staying Dynamic

Since augmented reality is still in its early phase, solutions can take time to test and validate. Along with the inherent issues that come with new technologies comes a need for agile development, in order to take what’s learned and apply that knowledge to new hardware.

“The challenge lies in producing hardware that is high enough fidelity to get valuable feedback from real people in the world. It needs to work, and work well,” Harrington says. “In an ideal world, we should be able to leave prototypes with customers, so that we can see what it’s like in their everyday lives because that provides us with the most valuable insights.”

However, getting that information back and iterating on the design was a challenge for the team.

Getting the high-resolution parts they needed at low cost, with high quality,  and at the speed they needed was difficult.

“Those units need to be produced quickly, relatively inexpensively, and without the investment in tooling that makes design and engineering changes difficult and costly,” Harrington says.

Solution: Changing the Speed of the Possible with Fictiv

The Mira Labs team leveraged Fictiv’s HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D printing capabilities, with economical overseas production to produce fully functional units at high volume.

“Fictiv gave us access to overseas MJF printing that allowed us to quickly produce cost-effective units,” says Harrington.

“Fictiv has allowed us to produce fully functional units at a volume that would traditionally have been very difficult to manage,” Harrington says Multi Jet Fusion gives Mira Labs’ product a polished appearance that’s customer-ready, allowing the company to meet its goal to put prototypes in customers’ hands in exchange for product feedback.

“MJF allows us to produce complete, functional units, with a high-quality look and feel, that we’re able to get into the hands of our customers,” Harrington says. “Through that process, we’re able to get continual feedback and make important improvements to our design.”

To learn more, check out this video that shows Fictiv’s “compgeo” engine in action on the right-hand side of the screen, and a UX animation on the left, including DFM feedback. 

For more information, visit to load up a diagram and go! 

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Supply Chain Insights Official Media Partner – CeMAT Australia



Supply Chain Insights a leading digital magazine in the APAC region for Supply Chain practitioners is an official media partner of CeMAT Australia.

CeMat Australia is one of the World’s Leading Trade Fair for Intralogistics, Materials Handling and Supply Chain Management taking place on 19-21 July 2022, Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. The CeMAT trade show is held in six countries, Organised by Hannover Fairs Australia, a subsidiary of Deutsche Messe.

The event provides a unique opportunity for solution and technology providers to meet with the Asia-Pacific’s logistics and warehousing elite and to create lasting relationships.

The CeMAT exhibition will be a one-stop-shop of the leading technology and service providers in the materials handling and warehousing industry. CeMAT will pair these organisations with visitors from logistics, warehousing, supply chain, IT & finance job functions from a wide variety of industries ranging from FMCG through to resources.

As well as cutting-edge product demonstrations on the show floor, visitors will also be able to access our Solutions Theatre, which will offer attendees practical take-away solutions to challenges facing end users in the logistics and warehousing industry.
Register for free at

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Mike Mansuetti, President, Bosch North America



I caught up with Mike Mansuetti, President, Bosch North America, in Berlin, to chat about the Bosch Connected World 2019, his role, current trends in the Connected Mobility industry, AI, ML, the Bosch Centre for AI his insights on where we are heading over the next 12 to 18 months and beyond. For more info visit

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