In today’s E-commerce driven market, manufacturers are under increased pressure to respond to Industry 4.0 and work towards digitising their supply chains. More and more manufacturers are looking at innovative cloud-based solutions such as, Internet of Things (IoT) sensors and devices that talk to the internet and provide real-time dashboards of activities happening throughout their production lines.

Despite the rise of IoT and aspiration of digital supply networks (DSNs), recent research has revealed a gap between organisations’ operational objectives and what is actually being achieved. Notably, only 29% of manufacturers understand what having a DSN is, with under 15% implementing a DSN and expecting them to become the norm for the business in the next five years. However, there’s no hiding from Industry 4.0 and the implications for businesses who don’t keep up. So, why are some manufacturers seemingly missing the mark? And more importantly, how can they make sure they don’t get left behind.

 

Removing silos

At present, manufacturers cite securing meaningful intelligence from their end-to-end supply chain (80%), dealing with real-time information (75%) and the ability to deal with the intelligence – as significant hurdles that need to be overcome. However, only a third of manufacturers are able to aggregate information across the supply chain.

Although 89% of manufacturers state that they believe a single view of information from supply chain operations is key – to date, only 30% have full end-to-end visibility.  Manufacturers need to act now and take steps to transform. The research also showed positive signs that many are starting to make some vital changes; 38% of respondents are looking to improve supplier collaboration, 35% supplier performance monitoring and 34% predictive alerts to mitigate disruption.

Advanced technology such as artificial intelligence (AI), automation and robotics are deemed to be at the forefront of innovation. However, in order to make the most of the latest technology, manufacturers need to ensure they invest in scalable, flexible solutions that unlock extended capability within their legacy systems to enable higher levels of integration, reduce silos and create a collaborative supply chain.

If businesses manage to bridge the information gap, management can make better-informed decisions. The benefits of connecting different internal and external information silos will be greater agility and the ability to maximise investments in new technology.

 

Embracing the Cloud

The wider uptake of Cloud technology will play a key role towards enabling organisations to be more immersed in digitalisation. It’s all well and good wanting to implement the latest technology, but if a solution lacks flexibility then it won’t drive cost efficiencies as the business moves forward. Chosen solutions should enable real-time visibility, productivity and quality improvements. Organisations not only need to assess where the addition of a specific technology will provide the most value, but also ensure the technology they want to implement is based on a flexible platform for future scalability.

The Cloud facilitates a real-time exchange of data, creating and promoting an environment of digital collaboration and integration. A collaborative supply chain that utilises the Cloud and the information available will better connect key stakeholders, providing real-time visibility, allowing organisations to proactively manage the supply chain, driving efficiencies and enhancing risk management.

IoT is also an enabler, reducing the complexity of machine-to-machine communications. The introduction of IoT allows organisations to collect and analyse data through strategically placed sensors. The more useful data an organisation has access to, the more capability it has to utilise AI and implement successful and scalable solutions.

So, what is going to be key to realising the benefits of the digitisation movement? Creating an integrated information layer fed by core systems, enabling collaboration between departments and being able to access the right information, at the right time, from anywhere in the supply chain. And, most importantly, empowering management to take the essential decisions required to embrace demand-driven manufacturing and to meet, if not exceed customer expectations.

 

Conclusion

Ultimately, Industry 4.0 is a transition that is driven by customer demand and technological advancement. Industry 4.0 will continually be worked towards and the competitive landscape of each market will produce different paces for each industry. Take, for example, the development of autonomous cars. The use of this more complex technology and personalisation has directly impacted the rate at which automotive manufacturers need to update and accelerate the speed of their supply chains.

Manufacturers across all industries know there needs to be a greater focus on speed, accuracy and agility within the end-to-end supply chain if they are to remain competitive and achieve Industry 4.0. And, the only way organisations are going to achieve this is by optimising processes between legacy and new systems, as well as providing key stakeholders with meaningful insight from real-time data sources.