Tim Lawrence, DSCH Programme Director and Director of Digital Supply Chains at Digital Catapult, shares how the newly launched Made Smarter Innovation Digital Supply Chain Hub will be working to benefit UK industry over the next four years.
Tackling UK industry priorities
Global supply chains have taken a battering recently, largely due to the pandemic, with staffing levels, transport and warehousing all affected. Whether we’ve been waiting longer than expected for an essential part to arrive or been frustrated by the absence of a favourite brand from the supermarket shelves, most of us have experienced the impact first-hand.
Crises may be the most newsworthy cause of supply chain disruption, but there are other factors involved too, such as the shift towards just-in-time deliveries, rapidly changing consumer behaviours, shortages of raw materials, and the ongoing impact of climate change. From initial work already undertaken, we know that the key priorities for industry supply chains are sustainability and net zero, followed by risk and resilience, visibility and collaboration, and addressing supply and demand imbalances. So how can we make our supply chains more resilient and sustainable?
Accelerating the digitisation of supply chains
The time is right to break the mould and bring in new ideas and technology, and the Made Smarter Innovation Digital Supply Chain Hub will support and enable this by funding new innovations and building collaborations across industry, academia and government. Advanced digital technologies such as blockchain, digital twins and artificial intelligence, are already helping to increase transparency, efficiency and cost savings for industry. Over the next four years, the Digital Supply Chain Hub will play a key role in accelerating the commercial integration of such technologies into supply chains across the aerospace and defence, pharmaceutical, fabrication and logistics sectors.
Creating an innovation ecosystem
The Digital Supply Chain Hub is a £20m initiative funded by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Made Smarter Innovation programme (£10m) and investment from the private sector (£10m). It is being led by Digital Catapult, the UK authority on advanced digital technology, in collaboration with the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, the National Physical Laboratory (NPL), and TWI Ltd. These partners are collaborating to develop an innovation ecosystem to address today’s supply chain challenges, making them more sustainable, resilient and efficient. By helping manufacturers to adopt and integrate advanced digital technologies, the hub will lead to improved visibility, greater data sharing and more informed analysis across supply chains. Increased transparency and insight will help everyone involved in the chain to improve the way they manage risk, identify problems such as logjams earlier (or even anticipate them), plan more effectively, and operate more efficiently.
Optimising the flow of goods, information and finance
To manage risk better and respond to shocks more effectively, companies need to be able to use real-time data collaboratively across their supply chains. As well as creating a powerful community of partners, organisations and key stakeholders, the Digital Supply Chain Hub is committed to creating resources that will support knowledge sharing and the development of transformative solutions. These include a national network of large-scale test beds, and an engagement platform that will enable users to connect with each other, locate resources and find answers, access digital supply chain tools, and obtain knowledge and best practice examples – all underpinned by the activities and findings of the innovation hub. This will be the UK’s go-to resource for digital supply chain know-how, extending beyond the project’s four-year scope.
Flagship projects In partnership with UK manufacturers and universities, the Digital Supply Chain Hub will deliver a number of projects that will boost existing expertise, create regional centres of excellence, and support ongoing efforts.
- Logistics Living Lab: to explore and develop a publicly shared digital infrastructure for managing delivery vehicle slot filling and routing, in order to reduce journey miles and emissions.
- Digital Enabled Manufacturing Sourcing: to connect manufacturing capacity with emerging manufacturing needs, to increase utilisation and boost production flexibility.
- Differentiator: to develop new supply chain models that support clinical trials and help get the right medicine to the right patient at the right dose, on demand.
- Connected Tempest: a collaborative and ultra-secure digital test bed that maximises innovation across multiple tiers of supply chain networks in the Tempest defence programme.
Interested in getting involved?
Developing the Digital Supply Chain Innovation Hub and successfully running these projects needs involvement and collaboration from experts and organisations from every stage of the supply chain, and beyond. Whether you’re a manufacturer, a technology supplier or an innovative start-up, there will be opportunities to get involved in this landmark initiative, so it’s worth registering your interest to make sure you keep up with the latest news and invitations to participate.
To find out more visit Digital Catapult
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