Technology is responsible for bringing about many of the changes the manufacturing industry is currently experiencing. Each day, it's becoming more evident that business processes will soon be primarily technology-driven and that technological trends will impact different sectors of manufacturing and supply chain management.
Below are nine of the major technological innovations and practices that are predicted to redefine commerce and greatly impact the future of supply chain planning – as well as logistics and supply chain management and the manufacturing industry.
Cloud-Based Commerce Networks
Cloud-based commerce networks are expected to become integral parts of many manufacturers' information technology (IT) infrastructures in the near future. These networks are already helping manufacturers facilitate demand awareness, develop new products and even gain supply chain visibility. Manufacturers that take advantage of cloud-based commerce networks graduate from point-to-point data transmission to richly interactive hubs – which supports real-time communication while driving efficiency gains throughout manufacturing supply chains.
Introduction of Micrologistics
At this point, almost a quarter of all manufacturers have implemented a micrologistics network. These networks support retailers' omnichannel efforts and involve setting up multiple, localized nodes (e.g., small regional distribution centers) that are geographically closer to various customer groups. This localization allows businesses to provide better service and customer experiences overall – via reduced costs and better inventory control.
Integrated Business Planning
Integrated business planning, or IBP, is a process that has played a significant role in helping manufacturers coordinate various planning activities. It moves companies 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, companies can implement holistic planning processes.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) is already gaining a lot of traction in the manufacturing world through the use of devices (such as remote sensors) that capture extensive amounts of data. Manufacturers will continue to capture data-driven insights into their operations to improve productivity and assist in decision-making.
Flexible Postponement Strategies
Customers are increasingly demanding customized products. Because of this, manufacturers need 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 that will enable customization or production at the last possible moment without affecting delivery time. Thus, manufacturing will become flexible and employ modern-day technologies like 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
Recently, demand-sensing technology has allowed manufacturers to sense and predict what customers want. This offers great visibility into customer requirements and enables manufacturers to be more resilient during demand changes. The technology provides further flexibility that will ensure production doesn't need to be driven by short-term demand forecasts and is based on actual, real-time demand signals.
Improvements to Weighing and Shipping Practices
Future trends in supply chain management will produce significant changes. Manufacturers will continue to expand their supply chains to include non-traditional elements such as product design and service techniques. There will also be a change in transportation and weighing practices. The use of advanced techniques and equipment – including industrial weighing scales and truck scales – is expected to increase and be used by nearly 90% of manufacturers. Additionally, innovative shipping techniques will be employed, which will allow manufacturers to respond faster to customer demands.
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 a system isn't entirely cloud-based, part of it is likely to be – expect hybrid systems to also increase in popularity.
It's not shocking to hear that robotics will play an increasingly substantial role within manufacturing facilities in the near future. The usability and capabilities of robots and other autonomous guided vehicles continues to improve. Due to their increased and improved usability, approximately 80% of manufacturers in the next couple of years will reconsider if they want to use robots and automation technologies in their warehouses and manufacturing facilities.
These supply chain trends and many others will slowly but surely change the manufacturing industry. Don’t resist them; instead, embrace them completely and enjoy significant changes that will give your company a competitive edge.
OMNIA Partners is committed to sharing knowledge from industry experts about how the supply chain is changing today and what future trends in supply chain management and planning are anticipated. In this post, we invited Kevin Hill of Quality Scales Unlimited, a leading industrial scale company, to discuss the technologies that he thinks will be shaping manufacturing processes and the supply chain for years to come.