Many manufacturers sit poised and waiting for the digital transformation. Waiting, however, could be their downfall. The fast-paced nature of technological advancement could leave them in the dust. The time to act is now, but manufacturers still need to do it with consideration. Change is coming to the manufacturing industry. Almost everyone involved readily acknowledges a new reality is on the horizon.
In a survey of manufacturing leaders, 51% identified themselves as “above average” or “well above average” in digitizing their supply chains compared to their competitors. This appears to be an overstatement. Only 28% have begun implementing such supply chain solutions. More than half of companies are not performing at “above average” levels. Such overly optimistic views of their own processes suggest a disconnect between available digital technologies and the number of manufacturers who have implemented them.
What will digital transformation do?
Digital supply networks (DSNs) promise to radically alter the way manufacturers operate their businesses. By leveraging data collected via a series of sensors and running it through sophisticated algorithms that operate using artificial intelligence, manufacturers embracing DNS solutions have the capacity to surpass traditional linear supply chain limitations. DSNs can break down information silos and create a multifaceted picture of every step in the process, transforming a supply chain into a supply web.
With this data readily available, manufacturers can make proactive rather than reactive decisions. This offers tremendous cost-saving benefits for companies in both “upstream” elements, like quality control and increased efficiency, as well as “downstream” elements, like increased sales and improved opportunities for new business. DSN technology can even open the door for new revenue streams because the data devices collect in the process itself has value.
How can manufacturers embrace the transformation?
To avoid being left behind as competitors take advantage of this technology, manufacturers should begin adopting new supply chain technology now. They should, however, act carefully and intentionally. They can start their transformations by keeping three things in mind.
- Put the data to work. Data is only useful if manufacturers follow up with action. Putting a new system in place does no good unless someone is prepared to use that data to make improvements. Implementing digital supply chain devices and analysis is the first step. Using that information to increase accountability and implement quality control measures is next.
- Step beyond four walls. Digital technologies allow manufacturers to work from anywhere with the touch of a button or the swipe of a screen. Put this technology to use to create flexibility and provide more timely responses.
- Get ahead of privacy laws. With GDPR laws taking effect in the E.U. and cybersecurity creating buzz around the globe, manufacturers need to consider how they store, use, and disclose internal, customer, and supplier data. Implementing these systems now is a proactive measure to help address these and future data safety concerns.
Why make changes now?
Many reasons exist for starting to make the change to digital systems as soon as possible. In addition to being a necessary step to remaining competitive in a quickly transforming market, other signs show now is the time.
In one especially important example, many manufacturers are finding their workforces to be victims of a generational gap. As the large baby boomer generation ages out of the workforce, they are struggling to find younger replacements. Digital solutions could help address this shortage. Putting these systems in place now can provide a smooth bridge to future success before the bulk of the existing workforce retires.