Last week we covered how the 4th Industrial Revolution will transform the roles and responsibilities traditionally held within organisations today. But Industrie 4.0 is changing much more than just the workforce; it's completely revolutionising the way people shop and their expectations for fast and cheap order fulfilment.
As with most revolutions, you can’t point to one trend or contributing factor stating that a single coincidental occurrence as the reason behind all those changes. There are a multitude of changes all happening at once that have lead to the emergence of Industrie 4.0, and it would be prudent to assume that these changes are only going to continue into the future as technologies in supply chain management mature.
Luckily for us, there are a few patterns rippling across the industry giving us an idea of what the future of supply chain management will hold. In this post, we look at supply chain integration and why it will be at the heart of customer-centric logistics networks.
Supply chain integration will be crucial in the digital era
Not to be a broken record, but without integrating capabilities throughout your whole supply chain you won’t be able to tap into the full potential of having a digital logistics network.
Manufacturing is being particularly affected by Industrie 4.0 as new technologies such as 3D printing are changing the way production is being designed, monitored and executed.
Take a look at Jaguar Land Rover. They produce nearly 500,000 cars each year but are able to deliver significant time and cost savings by placing themselves at the cutting edge of 3D printing. The savvy manufacturing company is able to produce 55,000 parts ranging from body work to switchgear, totally devastating the way cars have been traditionally manufactured.
Technology is slowly but surely overhauling supply chains across the globe; touchscreens, machine learning capabilities, AI, robotics and real-time data are just a few technologies that will soon be a part of everyday life. Without end-to-end integration of digital technologies in your supply chain, you won’t be able to create the requires efficiencies and time-savings that are currently being demanded by a new breed of consumer. And that beings us to our next point:
The rise of the customer-centric era
Technology hasn’t only transformed the way we do business. Technology has created the customer-centric era; a time where customers have the research power and technological acumen to make informed (and emotional) purchasing decisions.
So it’s true: businesses today are at the whim of a fickle customer-base; customers can love you one minute but hate you the next because you didn’t deliver their purchase on time. After all, why would they be loyal when there is steep competition online that are willing to deliver faster and cheaper than you?
The combination of supply chain integration and offering a great customer experience will be one of the biggest trends moving into the future. Businesses will need to forecast inventory correctly while also providing real-time shipping information so that the customer can track their purchase.
As businesses are able to integrate their supply chains with the customer forefront of mind, there’ll be even more changes taking place in the logistics and materials handling industries, for example, the emergence of micrologistics.
Taking the plunge to be innovative
If you have an already successful small business or materials handling operation, it may be seen as a difficult choice to uproot your already successful operations to be more ‘innovative’. Innovation: what does it mean anyway? Creating a new method for a process that seems to already be working well might not seem to have any value on the outside. But when you replace that one tiny operation with a technology solution that is integrated throughout the whole business, that’s when you discover the true value of innovating.
Maybe your business is risk averse, or maybe it’s incredibly innovative, whatever it is, it’s important to create a culture of innovation where new technologies are considered, discussed and embraced with supply chain management.
Being innovative though doesn’t just mean jumping on any new technology that happens to be released that month. It means being responsive and pre-empting trends so that you can prepare for them. Innovative businesses are able to test, adopt or dispose of a new technology quickly before it makes any negative impact on the business.
It’s an exciting future ahead in supply chain management and we can’t wait to see how the logistics industry will adapt to this constant change. What trends do you think will arise from Industrie 4.0? And do you agree that supply chain integration is critical to delivering a great customer experience? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts.