Headquartered in Clermont-Ferrand, France, Michelin, the leading tire company, is dedicated to sustainably improving the mobility of goods and people by manufacturing and marketing tires and services for every type of vehicle, including airplanes, automobiles, bicycles/motorcycles, earthmovers, farm equipment and trucks. It also offers digital mobility support services and publishes travel guides, hotel and restaurant guides, maps and road atlases.

1. In your opinion, how has the Manufacturing landscape evolved over the years? What are some of the advantages of the current technological evolution?

The manufacturing landscape has significantly evolved with more access to data and information than ever before. From a digital perspective, equipment from vision systems to robotics is much more cost-efficient and easier to install. A focus on autonomous and electric vehicles is increasing due to urbanization and ridesharing. These trends continue to shape manufacturing, and the type of products companies need to deliver. Although the digital evolution has been the greatest impact on the landscape, several manufacturing basics remained constant from my own experience as a plant manager ten years ago. Global competition remains fierce; and, the fundamentals of reducing costs, adding value and optimizing efficiency are still present today. However, the way we achieve those objectives has changed quite a bit. These demands require us to focus more on new approaches and to be more innovative in our response to old challenges. Innovation will be a key disruptor that will require mastery of agile and lean manufacturing.

"Consumers want to be connected to what they purchase and how it shapes their lives. You have to connect with people in an emotional way"

Fully committed to its own digital transformation, the Michelin Group’s aim is to ensure that this revolution is first and foremost beneficial to its employees and customers. Becoming a leader in connected mobility is one of Michelin’s major ambitions. This objective is in line with the company’s strategy of providing mobility that is safer, more efficient, more environmentally-friendly and accessible to as many people as possible.

2. What according to you are some of the challenges plaguing the Manufacturing landscape and how can they be effectively mitigated?

The pace of change in the market and the speed of information is a key challenge – and opportunity. Manufacturing has traditionally focused on high efficiency and long runs of the same product. However, it is important to focus on customer needs and be responsive to the market. With the digital evolution, we now know what the customer needs are instantaneously. An emphasis on agility and speed can sometimes impact manufacturing costs in a negative way. Although cost is still critical, serving the customer is of utmost importance. Mitigating change and being more flexible and agile arethe key drivers for success.

At Michelin, we aim to continually improve customer satisfaction, empower our teams, streamline the way we work and embrace digital technology by adapting to the changing expectations of our customers and employees.

3. Which are a few technological trends influencing Manufacturing today? What are some of the best practices businesses should adopt today to steer ahead of competitors?

With access to more data than ever before, automation and artificial intelligence (AI) play a larger role in manufacturing today. The challenge is turning data into real, actionable information. Well-defined AI algorithms give guidance on trends and changes. We see AI becoming more embedded in the way we make the right business decisions.

If you look at the landscape, the industry is rich with good strategy, people and equipment. All companies have access to these things. The biggest differentiator now and in the future is mindset and culture. It is important to allow people to be creative and try new ideas, even in small increments. Companies that can foster a connected culture and environment will succeed by driving innovation and risk taking.

A common underlining theme for successful companies is for employees and consumers to understand that they are part of something bigger than themselves and are making the world a better place. Our culture must reflect this. At Michelin, our employees are united by a shared purpose to provide a better way forward through sustainable mobility. We uphold our values of respect for customers, employees, shareholders, the environment and facts everywhere we do business.

4. Do you have any advice for industry veterans or budding entrepreneurs from the Manufacturing space?

It’s important to set yourself apart and be known for doing something that people know and appreciate. You must stand out in a way that adds value not only to the person buying the product but for the greater good and society. Consumers want to be connected to what they purchase and how it shapes their lives. In the manufacturing space, that is harder to do. You have to connect with people in an emotional way. The key element in achieving this level of engagement and emotional connection is to tie each person’s sense of purpose back to the company’s purpose. It is important that everyone understands that their role matters, that they are important and that they make a difference.