In the media

Mixing innovation and practicality in advanced manufacturing

Michael Platz Andy Prinz

By Michael Platz, Andy Prinz


05 February 2024

PA manufacturing experts Mike Platz and Andy Prinz authored an article for SupplyChainBrain explaining how companies can use next-gen innovation like AI and IoT to optimize manufacturing processes, enhance efficiency, and adapt for the future.

This article was first published in SupplyChainBrain

The next generation of innovation is impacting manufacturing operations in the form of emerging technologies, resilient supply networks, and a focus on sustainability. Companies that understand and incorporate these trends into their manufacturing and supply chain operations will be able to foster greater efficiencies, improve customer service, and create products in a more environmentally friendly manner.

Adaptation to next-generation trends requires a mix of innovation and practicality. Companies must leverage historical industry expertise as they look to incorporate cutting-edge technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize manufacturing processes, enhance operational efficiency, and adapt their organizations and people to future ways of working. In the face of supply chain challenges, it’s important to deploy resilient strategies and supply networks to decrease interruption of operations. A commitment to sustainability ensures eco-friendly practices, reducing waste and minimizing environmental impact. This empowers manufacturers to thrive in a rapidly evolving landscape.

Incorporating emerging technologies

Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution, characterized by the integration of digital technologies, IoT, big data and AI into manufacturing processes. Smart manufacturing aims to create more efficient, flexible, and responsive production systems by leveraging these technologies. Digital tools also enable manufacturing organizations to consider new platforms for growth and service-based businesses. Examples of how organizations can put these technologies into practice include smart manufacturing systems that efficiently react to meet customer demand across a dynamic global production network, service based operating models that incorporate digital capabilities, enhanced late-stage customization within production processes, and modular and flexible production architecture that enable new levels of agility in manufacturing.

Building resilient supply networks

Digitally enabled supply chains that leverage Industry 4.0 technologies provide enhanced visibility, agility, planning, predictability and response to disruption. These networks empower supply partners and customers to share data, insights and operating plans for closer collaboration. Then organizations can form better business continuity and risk management strategies for handling challenges and reducing disruption. Examples of how companies are enhancing the resiliency and connectivity of their supply networks include adaptive supply chains that deliver personalized products directly to patients, demand sensing and automated planning, scenario-based risk monitoring, and enhanced integration with third parties across the supply network.

Focusing on sustainability in manufacturing and supply chain

Sustainability is a key focus in advanced manufacturing, reflecting global and cross-industry efforts to address the carbon footprint and climate impact of key activities. Companies are adopting greener practices to reduce waste, energy consumption, and emissions in line with worldwide targets. This involves using eco-friendly materials, optimizing production processes, and implementing circular economy principles to design products for reuse and recycling. To accomplish this, companies are increasingly embedding sustainability into their supply chain strategies, encouraging a reduction in indirect Scope 3 emissions by challenging their procurement organizations to adopt sustainability principles, recognize waste as a resource, and incorporate reverse logistics into sustainability efforts. The results of these actions are significant, and not only because the supply chain represents a significant cost center. There’s a continued demand from customers for sustainability for its own sake, as part of the buying decisions, and regulatory pressures continue to rise.

Trends set to have significant impact on companies and their advanced manufacturing agendas including emerging manufacturing technologies, increasing connectivity across the supply chain network, and sustainability. It is important that organizations leverage these trends in a manner that combines their historical expertise with a spirit of innovation. Doing so will enable them to drive greater efficiency and effectiveness within their operations.

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