Powerful macro-economic forces are imposing changes across all business sectors; one could argue the transportation sector is experiencing the most drastic and rapidly changing conditions. Car makers have constantly shifted gears to adapt to consumer demand. Recent trends include autonomous vehicles, shared transportation, electrification, mass customization and increasing demand for data connectivity. Adding another layer of complexity, the recent Covid-19 disruption of work has exposed the necessity for technology-driven changes for how automakers and their Tier One suppliers manage their operations remotely.
Digitizing the supply chain helps drive costs down while engaging customer/supplier relationships to collect and analyze data to improve flow. The industry is slowly moving away from regional production and towards decentralized production. End-to-End supply chain mechanisms use the internet to provide instant feedback to a “smart factory” which leverages artificial intelligence, robotics and digitized equipment to perform routine tasks from a distance. Activities such as: creating schedules, managing workflow, and providing predictive maintenance information using advanced self-diagnostic systems are automated to alert any time there is a potential problem. This allows a maintenance crew to proactively service equipment, thereby reducing mechanical failures and downtime.
Customization sets up teams for success by allowing access to technical information to analyze and react quickly. Case studies from the World Economic Forum show how Bosch, Siemens, ABB and Tesla are leading examples of merging assembly-line labor alongside new-generation automation that can perform multiple, complex assembly tasks. There is little doubt we are on the precipice of a new industrial revolution. The primary benefit of digitizing the supply chain will be overall cost reductions through a better and uninterrupted end-to-end process. Digitization will lower costs, improve supply chain efficiencies through systems integration and enable workers to perform higher value adding work. Customers will benefit from improved quality, delivery and flexibility as workers benefit from the ability to add more value to the final product.