As the world of manufacturing becomes ever more competitive, many are trying to stay ahead of the competition by driving toward a lean supply chain. While this approach is no doubt a boon for identifying potential cost savings and supply chain optimizations, it can often leave companies more vulnerable to supply chain risk. As inefficiencies and redundancies are pared down, manufacturers can become less insulated against possible uncertainty and disruptions. As a result, supply chain managers are now more than ever searching for ways to combat risk and preserve the value-added improvements of their lean supply chains. Even in a market filled with unpredictable externalities, risk management can have a tremendous impact on the bottom line, but for variant-rich industries managing risk is often easier said than done. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest hurdles companies face in combating supply chain risk.
It’s been said that we should think of scientific revolutions not as revolutions per se, but as paradigm shifts—meaning that, rather than thinking of the great breakthroughs in 20th century physics or medicine as groundbreaking seismic shifts, we should consider them in terms of reorientations of method and changing understandings of old knowledge. The same might well be said of new developments in industry. The rise of automation, for instance, didn’t do away with the use of manpower overnight. Instead, it led us to reconsider the way we utilize people as resources and the way that we structure processes around manual intervention.
What does this way of thinking mean for how we discuss “the fourth industrial revolution,” i.e. Industry 4.0? Simply put, the tremendous potential benefits of Industry 4.0 won’t happen on their own. Yes, manufacturing as a field will change drastically and factories will become smarter and more reliant on sensors and internet of things (IoT) devices, but companies need to make an active engagement with these changes by learning to rethink their processes and their use of resources across the supply chain. This raises an important question: how can companies make the most of this new paradigm shift?
Even with the continuing rise of Industry 4.0, many companies treat transportation scheduling as something of an afterthought. Sure, many businesses have restocking rules and recurring transportation orders that are carried out on identical timetables every set number of weeks or months, but today relatively few manufacturers employ a truly robust solution for scheduling transportation. We’ve spent time on this blog touting the importance of transport logistics, but ours is obviously not the only opinion on the subject. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss some of the potential arguments used against it.
In chess, players are taught to think at least three moves ahead. Every action in the game has a reaction, which can be predicted only to a certain extent, and each possible reaction must be planned for in order to efficiently execute a winning strategy. If each piece on the board represents mission critical resources and manpower, then your short- and mid-term planning must take a holistic account of the board and the structure of the game into account in order to be certain that time and resources are not wasted.
It’s undeniable: the visibility and proliferation of Industry 4.0 in today’s modern manufacturing landscape is quickly reaching its apex. More and more planners and managers have not only embraced Industry 4.0 as a critical driver of manufacturing and logistics efficiency, but successful companies have implemented Industry 4.0 as a holistic reinvention of planning and production processes, especially given the push for end-to-end digitization.
This is particularly true for variant-rich industries with complex partner networks and value chains where supplier and customer relations often engage in highly individualized, specified productions and delivery methods. Industry 4.0 provides companies the ability to respond to customer demands, supplier fluctuations, and constantly changing restraints and rules in complex planning and production programs. This also results in enhanced levels of end-to-end (E2E) visibility, which is a critical driver for companies in understanding their overall supply situation and leveraging lean manufacturing principles - both of which are key in reducing operational and production costs and increasing revenue.
Topics: Industry 4.0
As the year draws to a close, we at flexis look forward to a new year's worth of innovation and insight as we renew our commitment to keeping readers informed on the new challenges and solutions that define the ever-changing world of supply chain management. 2018 promises to be even more exciting than its predecessor and we promise to help our readers stay up to date on the arising trends that may impact their businesses.
It’s safe to say Big Data is here to stay. Since its introduction in the manufacturing landscape in the early 1990’s, Big Data has demonstrated its value proposition in the capacity for grouping, sorting, and analyzing large and complex data sets into executable actions, provides planners and managers the capability to apply predictive analytics and other forward-looking logistic strategies to increase the efficacy, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness of planning and production programs.
Big Data has since found a home working in tandem with other supply and manufacturing movements such as Industry 4.0, Advanced Analytics, and The Internet of Things (IoT). Alongside these technological developments and platforms, Big Data has helped companies gain increased insight and visibility into a number of critical planning and production functions such as forecasting, modeling, data analysis, and the implementation of integrated sales and manufacturing principles for a more streamlined production cycle.
Intelligent production programs begin well before materials hit the production room floor. Even with an optimized production sequence with the latest in production technology platforms, today’s manufacturing companies cannot fully realize an efficient manufacturing cycle without a transparent, agile intelligent planning architecture.
What comes to mind when you think about transport logistics? Streamlined product movement? Enhanced inventory management and monitoring? Better procurement processes? Or perhaps increased customer satisfaction or customer relations platform? While all these are certainly true, what less frequently comes to mind (perhaps incorrectly so) is enhanced business value. Though increasing business value usually comes into play earlier in the production lifecycle, increasing the efficacy of moving products from the production floor to the customer’s door has ripple effects across the entire value stream.
Because transportation relies on so many varying factors each with their own level of uncertainty or constantly shifting constraints (fuel economy, routing, obstacles in transport routes, and others), the capability to mitigate and respond to these moving targets is a crucial driver in helping manufacturing companies maintain delivery timelines, enhance the accuracy of their delivery dates and windows, and drive enhanced customer service. In addition, because transport networks can be varied and include a number of partners across a wide range of regions or locales, they can lead to even more complexity and nuance in facilitating a transport logistics strategy that drives business value.