From supply chain to digitalised ecosystem

Posted on 8 Dec 2017 by The Manufacturer

The Manufacturer and Dassault Systèmes recently hosted an exclusive dinner for manufacturing directors to discuss the various ways that technology and data in the supply chain are affecting the whole manufacturing organisation.

UK Manufacturers World Trade Export Europe Supply Chain - image courtesy of Pixabay.
The supply chain is a key part of every manufacturing organisation and one that can determine the success of a contract – image courtesy of Pixabay.

The room was full of senior supply chain leaders, all of whom were eager to discuss ways to improve the way the supply chain can be handled and managed.

The supply chain is a key part of every manufacturing organisation and one that can determine the success of a contract.

Historically it has been the piece of the puzzle that has let manufacturers down; with limited visibility and culpability it can be difficult to control the efficiency of the supply chain.

The dinner guests featured a mixture of SMEs, OEMs and every kind of business in between. It was interesting to hear how the mix of different organisations could best align themselves to improve the supply chain.

More data

One of the main conversation points came from the SMEs in the room, and they suggested that sharing more data with commercial partners to better understand the supply chain would be something they would be happy to do to better serve their customers.

Allowing OEMs to see the data that SMEs collect when fulfilling obligations could lead to significant efficiency gains and therefore lead to happy business relationships and shared innovation.

The worries that were raised around the table were that the data that can lead to these efficiency gains would also highlight what went wrong and where, if an issue did arise. The same data that could enable efficiency gains could also lead to problematic business relations if things didn’t run smoothly.

There was also a lot of discussion about where the sharing of data would end. OEMs with dozens of SME suppliers seemed reluctant to share information for fearing of it being shared elsewhere; and SMEs felt that, without proper agreements in place, OEMs could pose a threat to their business if too much data were released to them.

Computer Screen Data Digital Global Computer Simulations Stock Image
Allowing OEMs to see the data that SMEs collect when fulfilling obligations could lead to significant efficiency gains.

All the dinner attendees agreed that sharing data would improve processes, however defining how the data is shared, with who, and to whom it belonged to were all points that needed to be ironed out before any cross-business cooperation could occur.

Speed of change

Another topic of conversation that saw a lot of discussion was the pace of change when adopting digital technologies.

The whole room was in agreement with the importance of adopting digital technology, but the strategies for implementing digital tech varied greatly around the room.

Many of the SMEs admitted that choosing a starting point for the implementation of a digital transformation was a difficult step to take. Deciding on the quickest ROI, where the biggest efficiency savings are to be made, and the area of the business that would be disrupted the least were all concerns for SMEs when looking to make a change.

One organisation around the table told guests that an app was the way they first began their digital transformation and that adopting other technology was made easier thanks to the culture that the new app had created.

OEMs also cited adoption as an issue, but their main issue was getting cross-organisational adoption. Some of the large organisations said that their shop floor was highly digitised and that the rest of the business needed to catch up, whereas others said that the shop floor was one of the least digitised parts of their organisation.

What dinner guests all agreed on was that there is a different path for each organisation and that a “one size fits all” approach is not the right way for manufacturers to differentiate themselves in a competitive market.

A broader view of pan-industry insights can highlight the opportunities most appropriate to manufacturing companies, providing benefit through more relevant expertise. Solutions providers, with a specialism in manufacturing such as Dassault Systèmes, can demonstrate how to adopt the right technology at the right time, and how that can further British manufacturing.

Stimulate your future business growth

On 1 November at the state-of-the-art Cisco Experience Centre, manufacturing leaders and influencers came together to share and debate the lessons and future thinking that will drive businesses and the UK forward as a global leader of manufacturing excellence.

Hosted by Dassault Systèmes, the discussions throughout the day represented the UK today and the opportunity that we face moving forwards.

Those insights, experiences and opinions have been collated to form the UK Leadership in Manufacturing – the Post-Revolutionary Debate report.

Click here to download the report.