Otherwise known as Industry 4.0, the rise in digitisation, automation and data collection has been driving the fourth industrial revolution in recent years. We’ve seen a phenomenal increase in the establishment of smart factories and the sharing of smart data, but how has Industry 4.0 impacted the supply chain? For any manufacturer, regardless of the size of the company, the supply chain is a hugely complicated and multifaceted ecosystem. With multiple streams to take into account, by bringing their supply chain online manufacturers  can reap the benefits of a fully automated and integrated supply chain.

Time is of the essence


There is simply no time to waste when it comes to bringing the supply chain online and up to date. Manufacturers who fail to respond risk being left behind as competitors strive to remain one step ahead of this revolution. Now more than ever, the supply chain is a complex and multi-faceted web. It’s all too easy for one weak link to shut down an entire manufacturing process. Therefore, integration and transparency is key. By digitising 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.


Through the installation of a digitised 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, improved response to the customer and ultimately a more efficient and dynamic manufacturing footprint.


Reducing downtime and increasing efficiencies


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 digitise their supply chains and 72 per cent of respondents that hadn’t expected to do so in the next five years. 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.


Invest now, reap the rewards in years to come


Unsurprisingly, there is no ‘quick fix’ to transitioning an entire supply chain towards a highly efficient connected model. Building this kind of ecosystem will require integrated planning and execution systems, logistics visibility, autonomous logistics, smart procurement and warehousing, spare parts managements and advanced analytics. However, manufacturers must not be deterred by the challenges both logistically and financially and must be reassured by the immediate improvements in efficiency reaped by their company.


According to the same PwC report, forward-thinking manufacturers can expect annual efficiency gains of 4.1 per cent, whilst boosting revenue by 2.6% a year. Manufacturers wanting to compete on a global scale must begin implementing a digitised supply chain network now. By doing so, businesses can respond to customer demand in real time, ultimately improving the experience for both the manufacturer and its customers. Manufacturers must be reassured by the fact that this long-term investment will pay dividends to the company for many years to come.


Above all, the main aim of the digital supply chain is to open up the network and provide visibility for everyone involved. In doing so, businesses can respond in real time, ultimately improving the experience both for the manufacturers and the customers. Supply chains are extremely complex and multi-faceted so this digitisation will be no easy feat.