The Supply Chain is Falling Behind Smart Manufacturing

By Sam Scane
The global market for smart manufacturing is on the rise; check out FBI’s projections for tech-enhanced manufacturers in 2027...

The global market for smart manufacturing is projected to rise from US$204.95mn in 2019 to US$506.33bn by 2027, but with this massive growth in technology alongside the rapid reshaping of the world by COVID, can supply chains keep up in an ever-growing technologically advanced world? 

The answer is yes. Hopefully, if stakeholders can view smart manufacturing as a link in the chain of supply, rather than the only aspect that can push them past their competitors. The interest in technology for smart manufacturing has been present prior to the start of 2020, with cloud-based robotic systems, AI and more, but the advancing interest in response to COVID may shed light on a not too distant future. 

Developments Across the Board

There are many aspects where this technology can and should be employed, in and outside of the workplace. While there are systems that exist to manage a warehouse facility, cloud-driven robots to manage goods and software designed to manage information and present it for mass viewing, some companies’ reliance on old systems within their supply chains can cause issues in areas that could be deemed unnecessary. 

Examples of this arise in the forms of external forces: shipping issues, temperature control for specific goods or poor package handling. Notably, many logistic operations remain paper-based to this day, which can prevent effective information gathering and transferral. Some supply chains may also use third parties as suppliers and service providers, creating room for potential silos that prevent the sharing of important information. 

Technology: Our Saviour

Technology, however, can address a large portion of these issues. For logistical improvement, some supply chains employ QR tags equipped with sensors that can detect a change in the status of various packages, be small enough to snuggly fit within them, and then transfer the data through a cloud network to a viewable portal. This kind of informational tracking is vital to maintaining a consistently high standard in the supply chain itself and is being used more often. 

Software solution systems, such as VARGO’s warehouse execution software (WES) can, in real-time, organise, sequence and synchronise all warehouse resources, as well as maintaining a continuous flow with reactive, real-time solutions within a distribution centre. This kind of technology, paired with robotics or other technological advancements to come, could prove to be one of the most vital links in manufacturing. 

With the technology in manufacturing changing fast, it’s more important than ever that supply chains change with them. The growing importance of production in the modern world will not only test every link in the chain, but break those that can’t, or won’t, keep up. 

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