Prime Advantage has invited industry experts to share their insights on the present and future of manufacturing success. In this post, Kevin Hill of Quality Scales Unlimited, discusses the technologies that will be shaping manufacturing processes for years to come.
Technology is one of the main factors responsible for bringing in a great number of changes in the manufacturing world today. The next two years will mark numerous changes with digital transformation right around the corner for manufacturers. Moreover, business processes will mainly be technology-driven.
The technological trends will impact different sectors of manufacturing and supply chain management. Let us see which technological innovation and practices have been predicted to dominate in the near future and how they will impact the manufacturing industry.
Cloud-Based Commerce Networks
Cloud-based commerce networks will be integral parts of a large portion of manufacturers in the near future. This will help them facilitate demand awareness, development of new products or even supply visibility. Manufacturers can take advantage of cloud-based commerce networks which have graduated from point-to-point data transmission to richly interactive hubs, which helps them in supporting real-time communication while driving efficiency gains throughout manufacturing supply chains.
Introduction of Micrologistics
ln the next two years, almost a quarter of all manufacturers will implement a ‘micrologistics’ network. This network will include multiple, localized nodes (e.g. small regional distribution centers) and predict IDC. The distribution strategies will be driven by the need to support retailers' omni-channel efforts, because of which, manufacturers will rely on outside partners, such as third-party logistics providers. This is where micrologistics will prove to be helpful.
Integrated Business Planning
Integrated business planning or IBP will be a significant part of manufacturing by the year 2018 to coordinate various planning activities. It helps in moving further from traditional sales and operations planning (S&OP), by including innovative product planning, customer and account planning, risk analysis, financial planning and campaign planning. By integrating traditional planning systems such as trade promotions management with S&OP, you will get a holistic planning process.
Internet of Things
Internet of Things (IoT) is already gaining a lot of traction in the manufacturing world through the use of devices such as remote sensors. Manufacturers will continue to look to gain and take advantage of data-driven insights into their operations which can improve productivity and assist in decision-making.
Flexible Postponement Strategies
Customers are increasingly demanding customized products. Thus, manufacturers have to shift their focus from mass production to mass customization, without affecting the speed of delivery. Due to this trend, manufacturers will use several postponement strategies which will enable customization or production at the last possible moment without affecting delivery time. Thus, manufacturing will become flexible and employ technology that includes robotics, 3D printing and cognitive computing that includes self-learning systems such as pattern recognition, data mining and language processing.
Higher Visibility of Customer Requirements
Of late, demand-sensing technology has allowed manufacturers to ‘sense and predict’ what their customers want beforehand. This offers great visibility of customer requirements, enabling them to be more resilient during demand changes. This further brings forth great flexibility that will ensure that production doesn't have to be driven by short-term demand forecasts and is based on actual, real-time demand signals.
Upgrade in Weighing and Shipping Practices
Supply chain management will observe significant changes. Manufacturers will expand their supply chains and include non-traditional elements such as product design, service techniques etc. There will be a change in the transportation and weighing practices as well. Use of advanced techniques and equipment such as industrial weighing scales and truck scales will increase with almost 90% manufacturers incorporating them. Innovative shipping techniques will be employed so that they can respond faster to the demands of the customers.
Cloud-based Management Systems
On-premise installations of supply chain execution systems will start waning as cloud-based warehouse management systems start dominating the manufacturing space. Even if the system is not entirely cloud-based, a blend of both worlds will also be popular.
It won’t be a surprise to see robotics being a crucial factor in several manufacturing units in the near future. Continuous improvements are being made in the usability and capabilities of robots and other autonomous guided vehicles. Due to their increased and improved usability, approximately 80% of manufacturers will reconsider if they want to use robots and automation technology in their warehouses and manufacturing units.
These trends will slowly yet surely become a part of a manufacturing unit in the next two years. Don’t resist them; instead, embrace them completely and you will enjoy significant changes that will give a competitive edge.