Digitization, automation, and data collection has been driving the fourth industrial revolution in recent years, otherwise known as Industry 4.0. We’ve seen a phenomenal rise in the establishment of smart factories and smart data, but how has Industry 4.0 impacted the supply chain? The supply chain network is a complex and multi-faceted web. It is all too easy for one weak link to completely break down the chain. By digitizing the vital processes that make up the supply chain, manufacturers will not only future proof their business but will benefit from a significant rise in productivity and efficiency.
Building one transparent ecosystem
For any manufacturer, regardless of the size of the company, the supply chain is a hugely complicated and multifaceted eco-system. A lack of clarity can mean that processes and relationships can break down, disrupting the efficiency of the entire chain. Complete transparency enables businesses to not only respond to problems in real time but also to anticipate any issues and respond to them in advance.
Ultimately, digitization is the key to creating a transparent supply chain ecosystem. Through the installation of a digitized and fully integrated supply chain network, companies are able to respond to customer demands more effectively and efficiently, ultimately improving productivity. In order to do so, supply chain visibility relies on the effective and streamlined implementation of a “track and trace” (T&T) system. Two years ago, Essentra Components launched the S099 demand planning platform in EMEA and will shortly be launching this system in the Americas. This is an aggregated global demand plan for all vendors providing transparency across the entire business, improving response times to customers and ultimately creating a more efficient and dynamic manufacturing footprint.
Investing for the future
According to a recent study by Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) on the rise of Industry 4.0, a third of companies surveyed have already started to digitize their supply chains and 72% of respondents that hadn’t expected to do so in the next five years. Crucially, companies with highly digitized supply chains and operations can expect annual efficiency gains of 4.1%, while boosting revenue by 2.6% a year.
There is no quick fix to digitising an entire supply chain. This complete transition will take time and will be costly, but once completed manufacturers will reap the benefits for many years to come. In the last ten years, Essentra Components has invested in over £13.5 million in upgrading, future proofing and digitising the manufacturing operations at their Kidlington site in the UK.
The creation of smart machines, linked to each other and to the cloud, ultimately speeds up set up times and installation processes, driving efficiencies in production whilst also reducing costs. By linking these smart machines to the cloud, process engineers are able to access machines remotely, diagnosing and resolving problems more quickly, ensuring the machines are back up and running in the shortest time possible. This quick exchange of information is revolutionary and boosts the agility and responsivity of the entire chain.
Essentra Components has begun the transition to a fully integrated, connected and digitised supply chain network through the use of TW Pick and Pack and warehouse management software. This £150,000 investment was implemented directly to drive efficiency in pick and delivery accuracy enabling employees to have better access to warehouse activity data and management information. Further to this development, Essentra Components is planning to introduce improved location management to reduce the delta between available and picked product and accurately track stock.
There is no quick fix to investing in the digitization of the supply chain network but, manufacturers wanting to compete on a global scale must begin implementing a digitized supply chain network now. By doing so, businesses can respond to customer demand in real time, ultimately improving the experience for both the manufacturers and the customers. Manufacturers must be reassured by the fact that this long term investment will pay dividends to the company for many years to come.
 PWC, Industry 4.0: Building the digital enterprise https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/industry-4.0.html?_ga=2.34945633.1536028253.1521642138-1598922970.1519035759