How agile are our manufacturing industries ? Perhaps not the most positive question to start 2021, but in 2020 we encountered considerable hiccups in global supply chains. That is why we make a fresh start of the new year with these four key areas for the industry segment in which we are highly active.
Point of attention 1: End-end visibility into the manufacturing process
Manufacturing industries depend on raw materials and components supplies from all over the world. A large part of the raw materials or semi-finished products comes from low-wage countries, in many cases from Asia. Due to the coronavirus, weak links prevented supplies from being delivered on time. In many cases this had a negative effect on the manufacturing process. In some cases, production lines came to a complete standstill. But was it always clear where the problems came from? Was management presented with accurate and up-to-date information?
Point of attention 2: Realizing cost savings
Many takeovers happen within the manufacturing industry. As a result, a complex network of IT infrastructures and systems emerges and its management becomes complex and expensive. For a customer in the manufacturing industry, Low & Bonar, we achieved a saving of approximately 30-40% compared to their previous traditional international WAN environment. We will discuss this in detail in a future blog.
Point of attention 3: Being able to respond to fluctuations in customer demand
A pandemic impacts manufacturing industries and favors the ones that are able to adapt very quickly to changing customer demand. Raw materials have to be delivered on time, but the challenge is to prevent outdated stocks of semi-finished products. Supplied goods may be wasted when they do not reach the end product. After all, product life cycles are getting shorter and shorter. Access to accurate demand and supply data is therefore crucial. As consumers make their purchases online, more and more data becomes available into current customer demand. This allows for more insight and a quick response to fluctuations in customer demand.
Point of attention 4: Flexible monitoring of production resources and subcontractors
In many production chains, digital resources are not being leveraged to their full potential. For example to enable ‘just-in-time’ maintenance of machinery, using connected sensors and maybe even artificial intelligence. But ICT also can help to guarantee product quality, a smooth and robust logistics process, or to safeguard the confidentiality of a new product or innovation throughout the entire chain. In an ideal situation, a plant manager, production worker, designer, CIO or subcontractor should even have access to the relevant data on his smartphone at the home workplace. Will it be possible to monitor and control the entire production process remotely?
What do these 4 points have in common?
The answer is: Modern international connectivity, reliable and affordable. Fast and secure data transport for all applications throughout the entire supply chain. Of course, this requires a digital strategy and a new role for the IT department. In addition, fluctuations in supply and demand are monitored and analyzed in (near) real-time, limiting wasted stock. And last but not least: reliable connections prevent downtime of production resources. Without reliable and modern international connectivity, agility is a utopia, ERP systems deliver incorrect or missing data, customers cannot order carefree and artificial intelligence remains only a promise.