Tag Archives: fourth industrial revolution

Four Ways Business Can Step Up To Industry 4.0

The challenges of Industry 4.0 are also its opportunities, writes John Pollaers, Chair of the Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council.

The ideas behind the Internet of Things (or “Cyber-Physical Systems”, “Machine-to-Machine Interoperability”, “Industry 4.0”, or several other names), are not particularly new. What is new is the convergence of existing technologies and corporate strategies.

The term Industrie 4.0 was first used in 2011 at the Hannover Fair. It is both a prediction of the ways things are headed, and an actuality. It was coined to describe a number of trends and technological developments that are causing a quantum leap in the way things will be made, and how products are being transformed by technology. The “leap” is the key concept at play here, as industrial revolutions 1 through 3 were all driven by a technological leap that changed the manufacturing landscape, and society along with it. To summarise:

  • The 1st industrial revolution was about mechanisation.
  • The 2nd revolution was driven by electrification.
  • The 3rd centered around automation and IT integration – this transformation is still going on in many countries.
  • The 4th industrial revolution is about the merging of the cyber and the physical worlds.

How will Industry 4.0 transform manufacturing?

The basic principle is that by connecting machines, work pieces and systems, businesses are creating intelligent networks along the entire value chain. This means greater flexibility – with information gathered in real time, and factories able to adapt more easily to changing requirements.

It enables customisation and servitisation of products; and a customer-specific production operation.

As factories, supply chains and products become networked, the lines between the physical and digital world will be increasingly blurred. Virtualisation enables the so-called Smart Factory by linking sensor data (from monitoring physical processes) with virtual plant models and simulation models.

There are many challenges ahead – and perhaps the most significant among them is developing global industry standards. The world’s two industrial powerhouses, Germany and the United States, recently came together to work collaboratively on aligning global standards and technologies. Australia’s own Prime Minister’s Industry 4.0 Taskforce is closely supporting that effort – aiming to ensure Australia is connected globally.

The flexibility tipping point 

The future for advanced manufacturing is high value, high margin products – but this will require constant innovation and flexibility. The good news is that technological developments are beginning to enable that flexibility on the factory floor and throughout the entire manufacturing system. Some examples of flexibility include:

  • Production becoming increasingly distributed.
  • A greater reliance on smaller-scale manufacturing plants and micro-factories.
  • The market becomes the world.

This flexibility will deliver two key advantages for Australia and other countries looking to scale up their manufacturing sectors:

  1. The first is a greater ability to co-locate research, design and manufacturing – accelerating the innovation process.
  1. The second is a bigger market – we are no longer constrained by the size of our domestic market.

Four ways businesses can step up to Industry 4.0

If industry is going to lead the way into the world of Industry 4.0, there are four key shifts in thinking that need to take place in leading organisations:

  1. Where once your organisation may have needed to reinvent itself every few decades, today, an onslaught of shocks – technological, cultural, economic, and regulatory – will force you to transform every few years.
  2. Five to ten years ago, your CEO might have become a business icon through a single transformation. The minimum requirement now is being able to execute multiple transformations.
  3. Success today means fostering a culture of continuous reinvention—reinvention in your business models, customer interactions, employee engagement, and the markets you serve.
  4. We need to fully appreciate the power of analytical systems, be able to establish employee familiarity and ensure organisations have the right talent to leverage technology opportunities.

The Australian Advanced Manufacturing Council is a CEO-led private sector initiative pursuing Australian success in advanced manufacturing. The AAMC brings together industry leadership to drive innovation success and resilience in the Australian economy.

 AAMC Chairman John Pollaers will deliver a keynote speech at PIVOT: The Faculty’s 10th Annual Asia Pacific CPO Forum.

Digitalisation – Making Procurement 4.0 a Reality

Procurement is dead, long live Procurement 4.0! Digitalisation represents a fundamental, but inevitable shift for the profession.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

Throughout this series of articles, we have discussed the evolution of Procurement to Procurement 4.0. From trying to establish a single definition, to outlining the challenges the profession faces, the journey promises to be difficult.

However, the benefits and advantages that at the end make this particular journey worthwhile. Using the findings in BME’s survey, we’ll look at how digitalisation will help to shape the profession.

Digitalisation of Procurement

According to BME, the digitalisation of procurement is key for the profession to maximise the value it delivers to the organisation. Procurement needs to digitise all its manual processes and focus on the strategic ones.

Big Data plays a major role in this, and procurement can use existing knowledge to drive activities in this area. However, to fully realise this, organisations need to understand the role their staff will play. This is not only in how their roles will look, but also how they will need to be trained to carry them out.

“Existing fears based on the changes expected seem to be resulting in a passive approach. Even the very consideration of the immense changes that we may face as a result of Industry 4.0 is creating a sense of paralysis.”

Management of the cultural change, and setting of a concrete roadmap will help these activities. And once this is complete, procurement’s work can begin in earnest.

Digital Procurement Portfolio

The digitalisation of the procurement portfolio will have a key impact on the value the profession brings. The changes to the portfolio will be impacted both by digital technology, and changes to the supply chain in Industry 4.0.

New raw materials, assets such as 3D Printers, and new tools will all fall into a much-changed procurement portfolio. This will require both newly adapted process, and new skills for the professionals running them.

  • Respondents to the BME survey highlighted the following areas as key in Procurement 4.0:
  • Procurement will need to improve internal (vertical) networking with other departments.
  • Procurement will then use external (horizontal) networking with suppliers in order to source the correct products.
  • Further qualifications are essential to build knowledge of products and technology. This will enable procurement to act as an equal in vertical and horizontal networking.
  • An expanding supplier portfolio will make horizontal networking more critical than ever.
  • Procurement need to source innovation from suppliers. This will reduce time to market, access state-of-the-art technology, and overcome any missing skills in-house.

Developing Organisation 4.0?

In order for all of this to succeed, organisations as a whole must recognise the need to change. Functional working and silos will stand in the way of development and knowledge sharing, both fundamental to successful working in Industry 4.0.

Digitalisation is only possible if procurement can then forge strong, lasting relationships with internal and external stakeholders. People are critical to this, and organisations must provide up-skilling opportunities in line with this.

“The successful implementation of Procurement 4.0 stands and falls with its employees. Employees must be involved in times of upheaval and appropriately qualified. If this is ignored, it can be assumed that the company will fail.”

While this may take time to come to full fruition, there’s little argument among experts that this is necessary. The future lies before procurement, but it’s down to the people in the profession to help it walk this path.

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

Transparency is the Key to Overcoming Hurdles to Industry 4.0

Procurement’s journey to Industry 4.0 will be far from smooth, with numerous hurdles to leap. But transparency could hold the key to making this jump.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

In our previous article, we touched upon the challenges procurement will face in its Industry 4.0 journey. Perhaps one of the biggest challenges will come from the people side, and assurances of roles in the digital era.

However, as with many challenges and roadblocks, communication is crucial to overcoming resistance. And, according to BME, for Industry 4.0 and procurement, transparency and knowledge sharing could be the key the profession is looking for.

“The key to success is to provide companies with the knowledge about opportunities and benefits by Industry 4.0 and to underline these with appropriate use case.” says Prof. Dr Michael Henke,  Head of Enterprise Logistics at TU Dortmund University.

Lack of Transparency Major Hurdle

Within the ‘Management and People’ area, four major hurdles to procurement’s Industry 4.0 journey were highlighted. They were:

  • A lack of transparency and knowledge;
  • No active attempts to explore Industry 4.0;
  • The shaping of cultural change and the involvement and qualification of staff are already a burden in the minds of those responsible;
  • A lack of willingness to take risks or to invest.

These hurdles were seen as the key reason procurement was holding back on Industry 4.0. There were also concerns that if they weren’t tackled effectively and quickly, it could hinder procurement’s strategic journey too.

However, this is not necessarily a hurdle that organisations can easily overcome. The lack of clear definition of both Industry 4.0 and Procurement 4.0 present a major problem. This has a knock-on effect in terms of building a knowledge base for organisations, and then passing this information to employees.

And in turn, it also stops organisations being fully aware of the benefits and advantages available within Industry 4.0. Improving transparency in this respect, and gathering greater levels of information can aid procurement overcoming this hurdle.

Investment in Data

One other hurdle facing procurement can be linked to both management and technology. Big Data is frequently cited as one of the key aspects of procurement’s future, particularly in line with new technology. However, organisations as a whole are yet to fully establish how to collect data effectively, and then put it to good use.

Current systems used in procurement are capable of handling certain levels of data, but nowhere near those levels needed in Industry 4.0. Procurement need to invest in new systems, but overall investment has slowed in this area.

There are three possible reasons outlined by the respondents to the survey. Firstly, many companies lack the funds to actively invest in new systems. Secondly, organisations are already unsure about the return on investment on new systems, as cost-effectiveness has yet to be proved.

Finally, there is a lack of clarity and transparency in the procurement technology supply market. The array of systems available can be confusing, and leave organisations in the dark about which supplier will best meet their needs and requirements.

Prof.  Dr Henke believes that “If procurement wants to lift its role to another level in the future, it can be characterized by agility and speed. But procurement can only do this if he is able to interpret data from different systems correctly,”

Leading Not Following

Procurement definitely needs to be a driving force, otherwise it will be forced back into its old performing role.

Overcoming these hurdles is, of course, vital to procurement playing its part in Industry 4.0. The profession cannot afford to be a follower, or risk remaining a transactional function, with little strategic influence, and probably a short shelf-life.

Within the survey, the majority of respondents stated that procurement needed to be an active influencer, and provide innovation to the organisation.

However, at the same time, it was felt that procurement wouldn’t take the lead on these strategies. Responsibility, it would seem, would lie with a management team, but with procurement acting as an enabler.

The journey to Industry 4.0 will require procurement to make changes, but also step forward and grab its opportunity. How Procurement 4.0 will come into being will be the topic of the final article in this series.

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

The procurement function must adapt and evolve to accommodate technology changes and be ready to embrace what we’re calling Procurement 4.0. The question is: Are We There Yet?

Join the conversation on our Big Ideas Summit 2017 group to find out everything that went on at last week’s event. 

Industry 4.0 Will Change the Very Nature of Procurement

Automation and digital technology will change supply chains. But, Industry 4.0 looks set to change the very nature of procurement.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

So far in this series we have looked at the concepts behind Industry and Procurement 4.0, and the start of procurement’s journey. Now, with the idea that digitalisation is inevitable, we look to explore how it will change the nature of procurement.

As the manual processes are removed, or made more efficient, procurement professionals will tackle a much-changed role.

Setting New Objectives?

The BME study looked at four key areas of procurement that will be impacted by Industry 4.0. These are: technologies and systems; organisations and processes; management and people; business models.

The study highlighted key procurement objectives for leaders within each area.

Technologies and Systems

  • Real-time and better data availability
  • Improved data quality
  • Data access from all locations
  • More transparency of data and across the supply chain
  • Quick response to market changes

Organisations and Processes

  • Standardisation of processes
  • Faster, more efficient processes
  • Increased efficiency
  • More flexibility
  • Better global networking

Management and People

  • Improved human resources planning
  • Strategic placement of procurement within the company
  • Bigger savings
  • Creating synergies
  • Tapping into strategic markets

Business Models

  • Preserving competitiveness
  • Easier communication with customers and suppliers
  • More customer-oriented business models
  • Stronger development into a service provider
  • Creation of new networks

The objectives range from the strategic, to the vague. They also fail to really provide a focus for what procurement needs to achieve. Additionally, the objectives could well have been set without a consideration of the impact of Industry 4.0.

And without due consideration of what the future will look like, procurement seems destined to stand still in a fast-moving world.

Changing Procurement’s Nature

Although it seems to be procurement’s nature to revisit ‘traditional’ objectives, there is a chance that change will be forced upon it. And as the role of procurement changes, so too will the role of the procurement professional.

Prof. Dr Michael Henke,  Head of Enterprise Logistics at TU Dortmund University believes that “Procurement professionals need to move away from old management structures. Procurement 4.0 requires rethinking and thus also a management 4.0.”

Even although there is an inevitability about this change, there is resistance to it. Could this resistance be mitigated, or even overcome, by improving education on benefits and advantages to organisations?

If digitalisation can help achieve proper efficiencies, and help procurement deliver on objectives, then the profession can continue to evolve. But even as procurement evolves, there will still be a place for people in the process.

People’s Place in Procurement

According to the survey, the general feeling is that much of procurement will be automated, and will therefore require fewer people to manage it. Companies may even outsource procurement in a way more commonly seen with services.

However, the smaller number of procurement professionals will be highly skilled, well-qualified, and much sought after. ‘Purchasers’ will work with complex data, and interact with departments more as consultants. But it’s the focus on people that will remain, regardless of other changes.

People will still be involved with negotiations, and in management of relationships. Irrespective of how processes are managed, strategic relationships will underpin procurement activities, and, because of this, will need human involvement.

Exactly how this will look is still unclear. And there is certainly discussion required in this area. Both the human factor, as well as resistance to change need to be considered as the first hurdle for procurement to overcome. That will ultimately give a much more solid platform to develop from.

We will consider the challenges for procurement in Industry 4.0 more closely in our next article.

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

The procurement function must adapt and evolve to accommodate technology changes and be ready to embrace what we’re calling Procurement 4.0. The question is: Are We There Yet? Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for The Big Ideas 2017 in London. 

Why Procurement Needs Clearer Insight into Industry 4.0

The impact of Industry 4.0 is already being felt. But procurement needs greater understanding in order to thrive in the digital era.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

In our previous article we introduced the concept of Procurement 4.0 – the profession as it might look in Industry 4.0. The key findings of BME’s study into the impact of digitalisation highlighted that procurement faces some major changes in the coming years.

And alongside those changes, there will be an array of challenges, and also benefits, to be faced. In this article, we’ll examine the significance of Industry 4.0 in procurement, but also why the profession needs to find consensus.

Industry 4.0 – Scope and Impact

The BME and IML study showed that many procurement leaders believe that Industry 4.0 has a very high influence on their organisation. Equally, they expect this influence to increase in the next few years.

There is consensus from survey participants that digitalisation will have a huge impact on the organisation as a whole. However, there is less agreement of its overall impact on the procurement profession itself. For many, continuing to look at procurement as a separate entity is impossible in the digital era.

But could this lack of consensus stem from a lack of a common definition of Industry 4.0? When we have discussed the fourth industrial revolution in the past, concepts such as ‘automation’, ‘robotics’, ‘digital’ and ‘technology’ have all been used.

However, similar terms have been used in the past to describe Industry 3.0. BME have concluded from this that the line between 3.0 and 4.0 is not clear, which may be causing confusion. There are two interesting quotes in the report worth considering to highlight the differences of opinion:

“Industry 4.0 is not a thing of the future – it already exists in the present day!”

“The next revolution, which will completely transform our cooperation on every single level.”

Neither one on its own appears to be unusual. However, when seen side-by-side, they serve to highlight two distinct groups. One which sees the changes already taking place; the other which sees them as a future occurrence.

How Organisations Have Prepared

Has your procurement organisation started its digital journey? How confident would you be at pinpointing the changes so far?

If these two, polar-opposite, opinions exist, in a small sample, it highlights a level of unpreparedness in the profession. In the study, only 5 per cent said that no digitalisation activities had taken place. But, interesting, a quarter of respondents claimed the first steps were now being taken.

However, without a pre-defined starting point, then some activities that are already in-progress may be overlooked. Some organisations may be making progress in Industry 4.0 without realising it, or considering it relevant.

Something as simple as an e-procurement system, or digital P2P process, might not be considered as an Industry 4.0 change. Particularly if this change happened a few years ago.

Prof. Dr Michael Henke, believes “Companies often attribute these developments to the third industrial revolution and do not realize that this was nevertheless an important step towards industry 4.0.”

Impacting Procurement Strategy

Currently, it is unlikely that you will find either Industry 4.0 or Procurement 4.0 contained in strategy documents. However, there is likely to be mention of digital transformation, digitalisation, and innovation.

Contained within these objectives will be more common procurement strategies for realising these objectives. Within the BME study, over half of organisations were accounting for digitalisation in procurement strategy.

However, only 20 per cent claimed to have fully explored the impact of Industry 4.0 on their organisations. In spite of this, nearly half of the organisations have a department dedicated to ‘Industry 4.0’. This is a central team, usually comprising of senior management level employees.

“The companies that have already included Industry 4.0 in their company strategy are often already more advanced in the implementation of Industry 4.0 as a company without a corresponding strategy ” Prof. Dr Henke continues.

Taking Procurement Forward

As with most activities, the incorporation into strategy is not sufficient for action. Digitalisation needs to have a specific roadmap, complete with action plans, timelines, and responsibilities.

As well as this, the activities need to be seen from an organisation-wide perspective. Consideration of this topic without full functional input will only hinder coordination.

The perception of these strategies is also key. Though many of the participants considered digitalisation to only be playing a supporting role in order to move procurement forward.

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

The procurement function must adapt and evolve to accommodate technology changes and be ready to embrace what we’re calling Procurement 4.0. The question is: Are We There Yet? Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for The Big Ideas 2017 in London. 

Procurement 4.0 – The Future of Digitalisation

Procurement 4.0 is real. But opinions differ as to whether it is a key opportunity for the profession, or a supporting tool.

Download your copy of ‘Procurement 4.0 – The Digitalisation of Procurement’ on the Fraunhofer IML website.

The fourth industrial revolution is a reality. Over the past year we have heard experts discuss Industry 4.0 and its impact on global supply chains. Now, our attention is being turned to the concept of Procurement 4.0 – what it means, and the challenges and benefits facing the profession.

What is clear is that Industry 4.0 offers procurement a great opportunity to cement its strategic role in organisations. However, even now the role that digitalisation will play is still up for debate.

A pilot study from the Association Supply Chain Management,
Procurement and Logistics (BME) has highlighted a difference of opinion between procurement leaders on the role of Procurement 4.0. On one hand, some believe it will help drive procurement’s strategic presence. On the other, however, some also believe that it is no more than a supporting tool, rather than a driving force.

What is Procurement 4.0?

The concept of Procurement 4.0 encapsulates the array of terms being used to describe changes to global supply chains. One of the key changes is the increasing digitalisation of the profession. From the creation of digital networks, to the increasing use of technology in all facets of business, it represents a sea change in how businesses will run.

According to Prof. Dr Michael Henke, Head of Enterprise Logistics at TU Dortmund University, who helped to conduct the study with BME, so far procurement is lagging behind.

“In the fields of production and logistics, for example, the topics of Production 4.0 and Logistics 4.0 have already been a focus of discussion for several years. As a result, logistics is now often referred to as the area of application for cyber-physical systems and a driving force behind the fourth industrial revolution.

Henke continues, “The field of procurement, on the other hand, is barely ever mentioned in such discussions. This needs to change! As the business area with the most interfaces both within and outside of a company, procurement also needs to be a leading authority for questions concerning Industry 4.0 and its implementation alongside its current role as an innovation scout and expert for technology and management in the future.”

Procurement 4.0 – Starting the Conversation

As Professor Henke notes, this current situation needs to change. In order to create the conversations needed to do this, BME announced a pilot study on the digitalisation of procurement.

Procurement managers and CPOs from 25 organisations, as well as two universities took part in the survey. You can download a copy of the study’s findings at the Fraunhofer IML website. The key findings are also summarised below:

  • Procurement is shrinking, and operative procurement is becoming autonomous in most areas.
  • The demands placed on, and expectations of, strategic procurement are growing. And the demand for a higher value contribution is therefore increasing.
  • In the future, procurement will take on a completely different form, and traditional purchasers will be a thing of the past.
  • Personal relationships will also continue to be extremely important in Procurement 4.0.
  • Procurement is not fully responsible for the implementation of Industry 4.0, but it does play an essential role.
  • The changes taking place relate to all relevant dimensions: technologies and systems; organisation and processes; management and people; and also business models.
  • Creating transparency is the most important requirement in order to be able to implement Industry 4.0.
  • Big Data and data processing technologies are key technologies involved in digitalisation, and play a decisive role above all in connection with networking.
  • Procurement needs to adapt its own structures and processes to suit digitalisation.
  • Procurement needs to manage a procurement portfolio that has been partially modified and is becoming increasingly digitalised.
  • Vertical and horizontal networking (by means of technologies) facilitates the transformation from a functional perspective to a process-based perspective. This open up the possibility for the unrestricted digitalisation of procurement and the entire procurement portfolio.
  • Procurement is a driving force behind horizontal networking.

Big Ideas and Digitalisation

Though there is not a consensus on the role of digitalisation in procurement as yet, the pilot is sure to kick-start conversation in this area.

As part of Procurious’ lead in to the Big Ideas Summit 2017, we will be exploring the key findings of the study with help from BME. Over the course of this series of articles, topics will include:

  • The changing nature of Procurement in Industry 4.0
  • The continuing importance of personal relationships in Industry 4.0
  • The changes involved in implementation of Industry 4.0
  • Why transparency is important in implementation
  • The changing procurement portfolio

The Association Supply Chain Management, Procurement and Logistics (BME), founded in 1954, is the leading professional association for supply chain managers, buyers and logisticians in Germany and Central Europe.

Fraunhofer IML, founded in 1981, is a global expert on all fields of internal and external logistics. The Institute also currently heads up the largest logistics research centre in Europe.

To download your copy of the report, visit the Fraunhofer IML website.

Join the conversation and register as a digital delegate for Big Ideas 2017 in London.

3 Reasons Why Supply Chain Professionals Are Excited About Industry 4.0

The Industry 4.0 revolution is firmly under way. And it’s something for supply chain professionals to be excited about.

industry 4.0

Over 200 years ago, the first industrial revolution was ushered in by the roar of the steam engine. Now, thanks to advances in automation and computerisation, a new revolution is underway – Industry 4.0.

Also known as the fourth manufacturing revolution, Industry 4.0 marks the convergence of physical and digital manufacturing capabilities to create “smart factories.”

These factories empower supply chain professionals and manufacturers to digitally plan and project the entire production lifecycle. This can help to increase efficiency, minimise risks and, ultimately, drive revenues.

In fact, 35 per cent of companies adopting Industry 4.0 technologies expect to generate revenue gains of more than 20 per cent over the next five years

Picking Up Steam

The revolution is already well underway in countries with large manufacturing footprints, such as the United States, Germany and Japan.

However, now it’s starting to pick up steam around the globe. That’s because more companies want to take advantage of the tremendous business opportunity presented by Industry 4.0 adoption.

So what specific Industry 4.0 technologies have the supply chain so excited? Here are the top three:

Predictive Maintenance

Big data is playing a big role in the revolution. Predictive maintenance is one example of how it is being used.

Within smart factories, sensors are installed on every machine. These sensors produce data that can be used to accurately monitor key performance parameters. This knowledge is used to assess the probability of machine failure while allowing stakeholders to prepare accordingly.

The manufacturing personnel in the factory, as well as the supply chain professionals who are relying on them, receive continuous, up-to-date status alerts.

Armed with this information, MRO employees can make more precise repair calculations in order to prevent non-scheduled outages. At the same time, procurement and supply chain professionals can identify potential risks well in advance, allowing them to be more responsive and agile.

Additive Manufacturing

Additive manufacturing is not a new phenomena. For decades, the process was used to prototype new products before they were put in production on factory floors.

Today, however, thanks to the improved capabilities and reduced costs associated with 3D printing, additive manufacturing is being conducted on the factory floor itself.

As a result, manufacturers in smart factories need little to no lead time to fulfil spare part requirements, and design improvements and upgrades can be made on the fly. Supplies that were previously too heavy or too cost prohibitive to ship can be created on-site, reducing costs and logistic headaches for supply chain professionals.

This expansion of additive manufacturing has reduced required inventory levels and provided procurement teams with greater flexibility than ever before.

RFID Tags

Intelligent radio frequency identification (RFID) tag technology helps supply chain professionals track the status and location of each piece of inventory throughout the entire supply chain.

This technology provides procurement teams with the peace of mind that no piece of inventory will go unaccounted for. It also improves efficiency by making it easier to find specific items, no matter where they are located within a warehouse.

Lastly, RFID can prevent products from being counterfeited by verifying the authenticity of goods and products as they move through the supply chain. This helps to combat a growing concern in the industry.

Just as it has in the United States, Germany and Japan, Industry 4.0 will revolutionise the supply chain around the globe. As it does, procurement professionals will be able to understand their operations better than ever before and be empowered to make more strategic, agile decisions.

Ed Edwards is Audience Outreach Manager at THOMASNET.com. He leverages his extensive experiences in engineering, manufacturing and procurement, to educate procurement and engineering professionals on how to streamline and improve their work.

Ed provides customised training to organisations’ engineering and sourcing teams and helps buyers with their challenges and finds them new opportunities.