The New Normal involves three major transformations in the nature of consumer markets:
• The increasing size of the New Old 55+ age group in the West
• Too many young people struggling with higher unemployment
• Large number of people moving out of poverty in the developing world
These are the great opportunities for future growth, if our economy can be adapted to serve their needs. Chapter 9 of our new ‘Boom, Gloom and the New Normal’ e-book looks at the implications for chemical manufacturing.
Today, and in the future, we need to focus on the megatrends which will drive future demand growth.
In the fields of water and food, we should focus on reducing the amount of waste, and the output that is lost when product is moving to market.
In developing new products and services for the over 55s, we should focus on core needs, such as food, water, health, shelter and mobility.
This will enable us to ‘do more with less’. We will reduce carbon footprint, and enable output to be afforded by the maximum number of people.
These changes in market drivers will have a profound impact on how, and where, products are manufactured.
Manufacturing processes will need to change in many companies as we transition to the New Normal. Quality will matter more and more as we move away from the ‘throwaway society’ of the past couple of decades.
So will approaches such as Process Intensification. This involves reducing the size of chemical and plant equipment, and can often enable companies to lower capital and operating costs whilst reducing waste.
The chemical industry has long been an enthusiastic champion of the importance of Quality management. It was one of the first to appreciate the importance of the concept of the ‘learning organisation’ that was originally brought to the West from Japan.
But in the early 2000s, the Quality movement seemed to stall. Many of the people who had launched this revolution retired. More worryingly, some companies began to forget that Quality was a process, and had to be reinforced by senior management at every possible opportunity.
Now, we need to relearn that having the right corporate philosophy is the critical starting point. This includes a focus on benefiting wider society, good leadership, and on rooting out inefficiencies through getting everybody involved in processes and problem solving.
Chapter 9 will hopefully help companies to ensure that manufacturing delivers the competitive advantage that is required as we transition to the New Normal.