3 Predictions for the Supply Chain in 2015

Meagan Douglas
Fri, Feb 27, 2015

Manufacturing is growing domestically in the wake of the most recent economic recession, partly due to the recent development in digital technology. New portable devices and cutting-edge software offer manufacturers better oversight into overall production as well as flexibility and agility in their existing operation. Cloud-based systems allow the same businesses to access important data from various locations and scale properly as business grows.

The 21st-century supply chain is deeply rooted in digitally centric technology. Its infrastructure is constantly connected and the room for growth is massive. Listed below are three predictions for the supply chain in 2015 and beyond:

1. Internet of Things Will Spur Industrial Growth
The IoT is a popular word in the lexicon of technically savvy individuals, but as its capabilities further commodify, manufacturers and other industry stakeholders will further embrace the connectivity that is IoT. Today's supply chain is faster and perhaps more complex than ever before, which requires better visibility over the entire operation. IoT technology separates the silos between different departments and creates a more connected supply chain.

Citing a 2013 American Society for Quality study, a recent Lopez Research white paper said just 13 percent of manufacturers surveyed said they used smart technology in their operation. Of that figure, 82 percent said they increased production efficiency. Another 49 percent experienced fewer product defects, which led to 45 percent of respondents saying they improved overall customer satisfaction. 

2. Automation is the Next Best Thing
Data automation in the supply chain enables manufacturers to meet real-time demand, keeping the supply chain fully functional. Increased speed through automation and connectivity through IoT technology creates a more robust and powerful supply chain. Automated data collection in this capacity helps manufacturers determine demand in real time, therefore reacting to market ebbs and flows more quickly and effectively. 

Working in cohesion with the IoT, automated data capabilities will bring manufacturing to an entirely new level. Both big data and IoT technology will enable smart manufacturing automation, the result of which could very well benefit everyone along the supply chain. A smarter, better connected production unit has the potential to create more and keep better track of every detail. Fewer headaches for all parties involved means more - and higher quality - work can get done. 

3. It's All About the Outcome
There's little arguing the impact different technology has had on the supply chain. Cloud-based systems, IoT and now data automation software are all impacting manufacturing for the better. The more data production companies collect, the better visibility they have on their operation, which enables a smarter and faster supply chain.

Now that companies have all of this great information, they will start to use it to focus on and better determine business outcomes, according to industry website Supply & Demand Chain Executive. Now that supply chains are more connected, the likelihood of an operation needing oversight at all hours is higher. While new and cutting-edge technology can improve visibility and catch errors on the supply chain, businesses still need to develop internal metrics that help gauge whether these new systems are yielding successful results. 

As a result, manufacturers need to work with service providers to develop an action plan. The two parties must identify what type of problems a manufacturer is trying to address, understand both sides' priorities and then deliver on these issues. A well-planned strategy from the get-go will ultimately garner the most success; businesses just need to determine what they're trying to do, set goals and then work toward getting there. The information is now readily available to them.

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