The Manufacturer Podcast: The Future of Supply Chains

Posted on 28 Jul 2021 by The Manufacturer

On the latest episode of The Manufacturer Podcast, Daniel Kirmatzis hosts a discussion exploring the future of supply chains and how digital technology innovation can help.

Creating supply chains that really work is a massive challenge for manufacturers.  And building future proof supply chains that enable innovation across their digital manufacturing processes is even more difficult.  Today we hear from some leading experts in the supply chain industry together with UKRI and KTN who are leading on the innovation strand of the Made Smarter programme to explore the themes of DATA, INSIGHT, ACTION and TRUST as the core enablers of supply chain innovation.

Our guests include:

Kim Lloyd, Commerical Director at Supply View Digital Twin Solution and ex Supply Chain Director at Philips Lighting and Proctor and Gamble.

Veera Johnson, Co-Founder of Circulor : offering traceability and due diligence of raw materials, from source to manufacturer.

Chris Courtney, Challenge Director at Made Smarter Innovation.

Chairing the discussion is Nicole Ballantyne. Nicole leads on the Made Smarter Innovation network at KTN and has 25 years’ experience of working in small and large companies and is a chartered engineer.’

Listen to the full podcast here

Digital Supply Chain competition

Made Smarter and UK Research and Innovation launched two funding competitions for Britain’s most innovative businesses to come together to develop world-leading digital technologies to boost supply chain productivity and resilience to turbo-charge the COVID recovery.

Through funding from the UK Government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, business-led consortia can apply for funding for projects up to £1.5M to transform supply chains to help build a more efficient, flexible and resilient manufacturing sector. Developing innovative digital solutions which rethink and restructure the way businesses design and operate supply chains is key to super-charging manufacturing so it comes out top on an ever more competitive global stage.

The COVID crisis has highlighted the fragility of supply chains, and the importance of supply chain visibility and resilience both now and in the future. With the right technology in place creative solutions such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) can boost supply chain power by predicting shortages, demand spikes and direct supplies into the chain.

Businesses applying for the new funding can look to improve results from existing supply chains, redesign or re-engineer supply chains or design completely new supply chain concepts for new products or processes. Companies of any size may apply and the consortia must include at least one SME. Projects ranging in size from as little as £250,000 to £3million. SME businesses which are Technology developers or Manufacturing companies can benefit from funding up to 70% of their project costs. The projects can take up to two years to complete.

Competition strands:

  • Feasibilities Studies
  • Industrial Research

Total investment = £20 million


Aim of the competition

The aim of this competition is to encourage the use of digital technologies to enable more efficient, productive, flexible, resilient and sustainable UK manufacturing supply chains. Projects should seek to integrate and optimise these supply chains.

A portfolio approach will be used to achieve a balance between regional locations, industrial sectors, digital technologies, project types and company sizes.


Project must develop a supply chain integration or optimisation idea and carry out a project to test the concepts. It must focus on a digital application. It must investigate one or more problems that a specific supply chain is experiencing and develop ideas for digital technology solutions to address these problems.

For example:

  • Real-time tracking of products throughout the supply chain using digital technologies such as low-cost sensors, NFC (near field communication), real-time data capture and data analytics
  • Improved track and trace capabilities to help companies optimise inventory management and/or establish clear and accurate demand signals to help them eliminate waste

Project must carry out activity that develops and tests innovative digital solutions in UK manufacturing supply chains, focussing either on supply chain design or supply chain execution, comprising any one of the following:

  • Improve and optimise existing supply chain networks
  • Re-design or re-engineer existing supply chain networks
  • Design new supply chain networks for either new products or processes

Project must be across a supply chain, not just focused within one organisation or within one supplier.

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