4 Game-Changing Developments Within Consumer Products Manufacturing
August 11, 2016
To stay ahead in the consumer products industry understanding and capitalising on new technology developments within the manufacturing supply chain is vital. Customers vote with their wallets, so if your brand is unable to deliver a stand-out product or service, they will certainly defer to one of your rivals.Therefore, your supply chain needs to be optimised according to the types of products being sold and your customers’ demands.
Consumer products can be categorised in 4 ways; convenience, shopping, speciality and unsought.Let’s explore 4 game changing developments within the manufacturing supply chain that arehelpingorganisations who make and sell these types of products. Each of these developments are increasing efficiency, productivity and competitiveness within the industry.
Robotics have been used in the automotive assembly lines for many years. However, due to new sophisticated technology, virtually any task that demands consistent dexterity and precision can now be automated using robots. This has led to a 12% increase of professional service robots bought in 2015 as referenced here in the International Federation of Robotics. By deploying robots throughout your supply chain it can increase efficiency, productivity, as well as help you plan workloads and improve order fulfilment.
- Additive manufacturing
Perhaps more commonly known as 3D printing, additive manufacturingvastlyincreases the flexibility of your production line. 3D Printers can be programmed to produce a wide range of products without needing to replace or reconfigure hardware. Instead designs are prototyped anddownloaded to a reusable printing device, according to what productneeds to be assembled.
Additive manufacturing also makes the goal of just-in-time manufacturing truly attainable. Holding an excess of shopping and specialty products in the company warehouse can increase cost – but additive manufacturing allows you to quickly build and ship them when needs be.
- Internet of Things
The Internet of Things (IoT) has certainly created a buzz in recent years. It has been poised to make the manufacturing and supply chain processes smarter and more efficient. As an example, an IoT setup can be made up of low cost, network connected devices and sensors that can be deployed across virtually every aspect of your manufacturing and supply chain process. By collecting information and key metrics automatically, it can provide granular levels of business intelligence aboutyour operations and processes. Such as helping you to quickly identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies that can be addressed in order to improve manufacturing and supply chain performance. As an example, RFID tags can provide information back to the manufacturing plants systems about where stock is and automatically trigger or halt production. Sensors can also be used to optimise the maintenance of equipment in order to ensure technical and safety audits don’t fail.
Furthermore, research from the McKinsey Global Institute shows that by 2025 The IoT could have a total economic impact between $2.2 trillion and $5.8 trillion across factories, retail environments, logistics and navigation which are all key supply chain areas.
- Artificial Intelligence
The Internet of Things, coupled with Big Data, has begun to generate vast amounts of information that needs to be sorted, analysed and actioned. This data needs to be analysedin real time to yield any meaning to the business or customers. With the speed and variety of data available today, it would be physically impossible to analyse it manually.
Instead organisations will need to investigate how artificial intelligence (AI) can be applied to certain tasks. By utilising AI, it analyses data more quickly and precisely than human interaction, resulting in increased efficiency and accuracy within business. By carefully defining business rules and leveraging AIit’s possible to automate your manufacturing supply chain to calculate and trigger responses to various circumstances in real-time. This will in turn increase the speed and quality of products that are delivered.
Two key factors for consideration are having access to ‘quality data’ and ‘real-time’ information.And, to achieve success withall 4 of thesedevelopments, itboils down to these two crucial aspects. First, you need accuratedata to support strategic decisions and secondly you need it instantly.
Lastly, 2016 is the year that IoT has come of age, and businesses will need to ‘tool up’ with these technological developments to stay in the game. Robotics are helping manage increased demand from consumers and additive manufacturing offers a whole new way to build products –but only if an organisation is willing to take the leap.
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Now our buyers can exchange photographs with suppliers and have a real-time dialogue as they develop styles, while buyers out in the Far East can send detailed and accurate information back to their teams in the UK. It has certainly cut lead times and reduced errors.Maxine Walter, supply chain co-ordination manager, New Look
The time it takes to compile reports has been significantly reduced; a report which used to take five whole days to complete is now accomplished within a single day!Sam Brown, Responsible Sourcing Co-ordinator - John Lewis.