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Key Supply Chain Trends in Manufacturing

Blue Yonder

Gabriel Werner, Vice President at Blue Yonder, shares five key trends in manufacturing he sees for the year ahead.

“Supply chain disruption due to the pandemic” is a phrase we have heard over and over this past year. Production lines came to a standstill and the question of how to prevent such scenarios in the future came up.

Last year’s digitalisation push will continue into the current year. Machine learning plays a central role here. So does an intuitive user experience, which is expected especially by young professionals because they have grown up with modern technologies. In addition, more and more manufacturing companies will move to combine planning and execution in one solution so that supply chain disruptions can be better anticipated in the future and countermeasures can be taken in time.

Here are five key trends in manufacturing that I see for the upcoming year:

Trend 1: The level of automation will continue to increase

After the pandemic has shown how disruptive global supply chains are and how quickly decisions need to be made to address challenges, companies will increasingly outsource such processes to the machine. Machine learning solutions help identify where delays or failures may occur. They can even break this down to individual loads and predict which delivery is at high risk of failure. Should a breakdown occur, deliveries can be automatically rerouted thanks to the algorithms. So the entire process from planning to ad-hoc execution can be automated.

The algorithms can also prioritise where goods are needed most urgently and when, so that production and delivery commitments can be met. Human workers need days to make such decisions and get an overview as a basis for decision making. The risk of introducing even more errors and making the wrong decision can be very high. Reason for this are time pressure and large amounts of data. In addition, manual planning processes typically run sequentially. So one planning step after the other is done, which takes a lot of time. The machine, on the other hand, can deal with such things unemotionally and quickly makes the right decision based on data.

Trend 2: Faster integration of cloud services

The trend toward the cloud is not new in the field of industrial manufacturing. Equally unsurprising is the assessment that this trend will continue.

Integration into existing systems, especially existing cloud systems, is no longer an argument against cloud-based solutions. Due to advanced APIs and the move away from on-premise systems, new cloud services can be integrated and customised with fairly little effort. As new cloud applications enable higher levels of automation, we will see a correlation here. More cloud equals more automation.

To read about the final three trends, click here to read Gabriel’s full blog. 

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