Become the Manufacturer of the Future: Digitize Your Supply Chain

Let’s face it, traditional supply chains are finding it more difficult to compete in today’s global business environment. Linear and static, they fail to serve customers whose diverse needs are constantly changing. To stay competitive, manufacturers need a new supply chain strategy—a strategy that focuses on staying connected, being smart and being efficient. Only digital technology can enable achievement of these objectives.

In fact, many companies are already moving in this direction. A third of more than 2,000 industrial companies have already digitized their supply chains while nearly three-quarters expect to do so by 2020, according to a recent PwC survey.

How Do Digital Supply Chains Work?

​Digital supply chains connect information, goods and services to allow better monitoring of real-time inventory levels, customer interactions with products, carrier locations and equipment. Technologies such as GPS tracking, radio frequency identification (RFID), barcodes, smart labels, location-based data and wireless sensor networks are all key factors in a digital supply chain.

Benefits of Digital Supply Chains

Transitioning to a digital supply chain allows manufacturers to capture data and actionable information from sensors and connected assets, use advanced analytics to extract insight from that data and run prescriptive analyses. That real-time information is then accessible to operational leaders who can use it to gain full visibility into the organization’s supply chain to better understand manufacturing processes on both a macro and micro level. Simply put, it makes monitoring quality easier and more accurate.

By optimizing performance where needed, manufacturers can make fast and intelligent business decisions. In turn, better decisioning can improve the bottom line and drive industry growth. In addition, the data-driven insights provide a deeper understanding of customers, giving better awareness to new growth opportunities that may have gone unnoticed.

Improved margins also can be realized. Three areas where savings can arise include the cost of research and development due to rapid prototyping advancements; raw materials by using technology that helps connect buyers to alternate lower-cost sources; and even transportation by using automated warehousing robots to improve efficiency and reduce accidents and errors.

Not only can margins improve by embracing a digital supply chain, but also a company’s speed to market. Predictive maintenance minimizes supply chain downtime and effective use of product lifecycle management enables products to reach customers more quickly.

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The key to embracing a digital supply chain is connecting physical assets with the digital world to drive operational excellence across the network. Now, manufacturers can become more customer-focused and stay competitive in this fast-paced environment.