Innovation in manufacturing

Innovation opportunities in manufacturing


To remain competitive, manufacturers must continually innovate to improve their products, processes and services. When choosing where and how to innovate, you should focus on several key areas that are likely to make the most difference to your business.

Key areas of innovation in manufacturing

There are many areas with opportunities for manufacturers to innovate, including:

  • Component sourcing - new components, new suppliers or an improved deal with your existing suppliers could improve your products and your profits.
  • Materials technology - new materials could improve your products or their packaging and presentation.
  • Factory process control - you could automate process control, including quality control, to achieve better efficiency and products.
  • Equipment maintenance - automatic scheduling of maintenance will ensure that the equipment runs smoothly and that you build downtime into the least busy part of the production cycle. This will also enable you to comply with health and safety regulations.
  • Stock control and order processing - constantly look for better ways to streamline your order processing and stock control to ensure that you have the right amount of stock.
  • Logistics and warehousing - rethink how you deliver your products to your customers so that you take advantage of new transport opportunities and keep warehousing costs to a minimum.
  • IT systems - keep up to date with developments in the IT systems you use.
  • Accounting procedures - you should streamline your accounting, invoicing and payments procedures with your stock control and order processing and updated regularly.
  • Customer and supplier relationship management - you can gain valuable insights into how to improve your products and their delivery from your customers and your suppliers.
  • Marketing - innovative marketing strategies are an important way to set the products you manufacture apart from those produced by competitors.
  • Design - designers can help you develop new products and services, or redesign your existing products to improve their functionality and client appeal.

The key to innovation in manufacturing is to make sure that it's driven by your business needs, not by the attraction of change for its own sake.

Discover the different types of Industry 4.0 technologies and read about their business benefits.

Find opportunities to innovate

If you're thinking of innovating in your business, you should:

  • consider what areas of your business would benefit most from a new approach
  • consider all the different areas of your business where manufacturing innovation could be implemented
  • innovate in those areas which drive the performance of your business

See also advantages of innovation in manufacturing and find out how to increase efficiency to maximise your profit.

If you are considering implementing new technologies in your business, see also six tips for Industry 4.0 adoption.

Businesses in Northern Ireland can apply to the Innovation Accreditation Programme to receive help with, and recognition for, innovating. Simply complete the Innovate NI's online self-assessment questionnaire to join.