When it comes to manufacturing, knowledge is everything. The more a manufacturer knows about their supply chain, the better they can fulfill orders and keep it moving.
As the world continues to digitize, many supply chains are adopting "Industry 4.0" ways of operating. In other words, they're pioneering the digital transformation of their manufacturing process.
To great benefit, Industry 4.0 provides factories with an unrivaled peek under the hood of their entire operation. Here are four significant ways every manufacturer could obtain insight into their supply chain.
1. Digital visibility
Empowered by a proper digital solution, supply chains are no longer a mystery to manufacturers. From ideation to creation to distribution, manufacturers are embracing improved visibility into their supply chain. In turn, they're able to avoid costly disruptions to their business.
In fact, 42% of manufacturers agree that supply chain disruptions are among the top external threats to their organization, per a study by Drishti. Digital solutions are helping manufacturers foresee disruption and navigate accordingly to keep production on track.
Like never before, factories can take a transparent look at their end-to-end processes and decipher exactly which areas lack efficiency. Likewise, they can also identify areas of excellent performance and extrapolate those practices throughout the factory.
2. Asset tagging
An often overlooked tool, asset tags are a significant source of supply chain information. The practice of tagging your company's many important assets with barcoded tags not only keeps everything in check, it also gives insight into its asset life cycle.
In essence, asset tags capture data on exactly where something has been, how long it took to get there and how long it's been since the asset moved. Some assets, like manufacturing equipment, need to be maintained and checked on regularly. When important assets go down for unforeseen maintenance it could cause a disruption to productivity. Tagging those assets can help manufacturers determine proactively if they need a little TLC.
3. Predictive analytics
Many manufacturers are benefiting from artificial intelligence and its vast machine learning capabilities. AI-enabled digital solutions are revolutionizing supply chains with their ability to make accurate predictions. Through predictive analytics, manufacturers can actually foresee potential stockouts, delays or other disruptions before they happen.
Stockouts and shortages, of course, are costly. According to LeanDNA, they are most often caused by unexpected increases in demand. Predictive analytics, however, will warn manufacturers of future jumps in demand in time for costly disruptions to be avoided. In turn, manufacturers stay productive, resilient and competitive.
4. Optimal Workforce Management
In terms of labor, there's plenty to be learned from workforce management software (WMS). Through a solid WMS, manufacturers can effectively optimize their labor practices. A good WMS empowers managers to forecast future labor demand so that they can schedule workers accordingly.
In other words, digital solutions help managers schedule the exact amount of labor necessary for any given day's work. Not only does this ensure there are enough hands on deck to get things done, it also cuts the cost of excessive or unnecessary overtime pay. What's more, managers can avoid over-scheduling workers who could use a break from the everyday stress of the job. This will go a long way toward labor retention and burnout prevention.