Current Issues

Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

Embracing tomorrow: technology, and a team approach

The state of manufacturing has never been as tumultuous as it is today. Progress comes in surges

08-Mar-2017
Embracing tomorrow: technology, and a team approach
The state of manufacturing has never been as tumultuous as it is today. Progress comes in surges. New technologies, new business models, and a reignited drive to power-up propels manufacturers forward. Then, setbacks eat away at the gains. Slow recovery. Slow growth rates. Brexit. Now, where does manufacturing stand? At the edge of a gaping precipice or at the foot of a steep mountain that promises sky-high opportunities?

This is up to you. Industry leaders can choose to look down or up. The view from the top is much more exciting. There, manufacturers thrive, powered by next-generation technologies, digitalization, Internet of Things, Data Science, Machine Learning, Virtual Reality-enhanced engineering design, Global Supply Networks, and customer-centric business models that offer customers insight and service, as well as distinctive, personalized products. It’s an exhilarating sight. And, a powerful vision for the economy, in the UK, and the world. Each one of these technologies alone is a game-changer. But, together, they become a new era in manufacturing, far beyond Industry 4.0

No one is saying it will be easy. The rocky journey is fraught with obstacles. Cash flow, outdated software, emerging nations underbidding, start-ups stealing concepts, regulations on top of regulations. Some manufacturers feel beat up, tired. It’s time for a shot of adrenalin.

An energy boost is just the beginning, though. The strategic arm of the organization needs a re-boot too. Moving forward in today’s high pressure, highly competitive landscape takes more than just plodding perseverance and cash infusion. This is the era of creative problem-solving, not just thinking outside of the box, but redefining the box and redefining the goal. It’s the Uber-effect. Instead of providing today’s consumer with a better car, Uber provides access to a car, virtually any time or place, with no hassles of maintenance or storage. The famous ride-share pioneer is now worth an estimated $28 Billion.

This focus on the end effect, rather than just a product, is the next wave of innovation. Instead of a company manufacturing and selling air conditioning equipment for a shopping centre, they will sell conditioned air. Instead of selling animal feed, the provider will sell herd health and weight gain. Instead of selling equipment to dredge a channel, the enterprise will provide improved trade routes for larger ships. Instead of a shoe manufacturer simply selling shoes, expect to see a buying experience that is fun, memorable, and sure to inspire more footwear purchases.

This takes a change in mindset. And a workforce with new skills. Most, of all, it takes a willingness to embrace tomorrow, technology, and a team approach to discovering answers. There must also be the vision for how partners collaborate, interconnected networks, and tools to make it easier to turn fresh ideas into reality.

You’re either all-in or you’re not. This next era, Digitalized Manufacturing, is a whole-system transformation, from product design to order entry to shipment and aftermarket service. Each link in the value chain is as critical as the next.

So, how can a manufacturer that has already weathered its share of storms and is limping along, dealing with some ongoing pains, suddenly take off in this new direction? How can this type of wholesale change be remotely feasible? Are we expecting too much of manufacturers, setting goals too high?

No. Digitalization of Manufacturing is already happening. There are early successes to act as models. Ferrari, Egbert Taylor Group, JR Watkins, Dunlop Aircraft Tyres and Vantage Power, all are examples of European companies that have stepped up to the challenge and found innovative ways to apply technology, particularly ERP solutions and cloud deployment.

"As a young engineering company, we are in an excellent position to get the most out of the cloud," said Alex Schey, CEO of Vantage Power. "That will quickly evolve as new versions of the powertrains are developed and we increase our customer base. Looking further to the future, we plan to take the data from our powertrains and feed that into the ERP so we can proactively maintain the units, and offer a cost-effective and complete managed service to our customers. Cloud will be at the heart of making all of this happen."

Egbert Taylor Group, manufacturer of waste bins, reports similar sentiments about the need to upgrade outdated systems. "Our legacy systems were reaching the end, and as such we required an effective system that would enable us to have greater visibility of the business and its processes," said Andrew Davies, Finance Director of Egbert Taylor Group. "Our objectives included improving working capital management, streamlining production processes as well as integrating our quoting process into a single cloud based solution," he added.

These are just two of countless examples of manufacturers solving problems with the use of technology. We are not surprised by the great accomplishments of our customers. Manufacturers are the greatest problem-solvers of the world. Manufacturing minds are brilliant when it comes to “making something work” and applying skills to make an improvement. In the recent past those skills have been focused on improving the same basic products, over and over. How many models of a kitchen sink or front door have we provided to consumers over the last five decades, all nearly the same? Now, finally, we have front doors that can tell us if a package arrived and a faucet that can save energy by calling for less hot water in off-peak hours. It’s about time, right?

Now, industry analysts, experts, technology partners and customers are saying think even bigger, think, broader. The technology exists to help manufacturers go in whole new directions. Be customer-centric. Provide services and products. Out-smart start-ups. Be agile. Move to the cloud. Eat data for lunch. Live data. Breath analytics and KPIs. Be all about Data Science. Value and speed will follow.

It’s an exciting time in manufacturing, nothing short of a revolution. But it is also the new normal and it must be embraced.

Ian Hall
COO, Atheon Analytics
7 things to plan in September to get right in grocery retail

Pragmatic, real-world & data-driven advice to help prevent grocery retailers & suppliers from making avoidable mistakes and missed sales at Christmas

Pól Sweeney
Vice President of UK Sales and Business Management, Descartes
Taking a smart approach to dock appointment scheduling

Pól outlines the transformation in the speed and responsiveness of DC operations - critical for ‘just in time’ supply chain

Alex Saric
Smart Procurement Expert, Ivalua
The business impact of the new PM’s approach

Smart procurement expert Alex Saric warns that businesses trading with the EU need to urgently review supply chain operations ahead of Brexit

Guy Cuthbert
CEO, Atheon Analytics
Bring clarity of purpose to fixing food waste

Identifying the impact that waste has on sales margin and customer perception, and looking at the steps we can take to reduce total waste

David Griffiths
Senior Product Marketing & Strategy Manager, Adjuno
Putting your brand in the hands of AI

Entrusting data and brand values to Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning could prove to be your hero, not your villain.

Andreas Koenig
CEO, ProGlove
Wearable Technology - bringing data to the user and unlocking worker potential

The rise of the machine is fuelling essential discussions about the future role of workers – not least within logistics

Mike Thornton
Head of Manufacturing , RSM
UK manufacturing downturn mirrors other developed economies

Commenting on the latest results from the Markit/CIPS PMI manufacturing survey

Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes Systems UK
Is digitisation the key to preventing cross-border landed costs from disrupting international ecommerce?

How ecommerce organisations can ride the storm of uncertainty to international retail success.

Paul Croft
Director, 3DGBIRE
Taking the Hype out of the Innovation Cycle

From disrupting supply chains to rethinking material use and ending over-engineering, innovation is gaining pace.

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Companies lose millions by side-lining procurement teams, research shows

SCALA surveyed a selection of the UK’s best-known businesses and 3PLs

Richard Seel
Managing Director Supply Chain & Logistics, Delaware
Meeting the Challenge of Supply Chain Efficiency – How Manufacturers Can Achieve their Goals

The process of building efficient sustainable supply chains is becoming increasingly difficult, manufacturers must ensure they don’t fall behind.

Olivier Binet
Managing Director International Markets, InPost
How to build sustainability into last mile deliveries

Why streamlined delivery is at the heart of a green supply chain

Ron Volpe
Global Vice President Apps Business Development, Tradeshift
Under-Pressure Retailers Turn to D2C to Level the Playing Field

‘Retail apocalypse’ continues to ravage the high street - 2,700 closed UK Retailers in 2018

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Margin Erosion is turning the spotlight on the Warehouse

Craig explains how the next generation of warehouse operations will not only halt margin erosion but deliver new levels of retail profitability.

Simon Runc
Principal Visual Analyst, Atheon Analytics
Unlocking the Value in Data

The Science of Visualisation

Steve Purvis
Operations Director, Bis Henderson Space
Brexit Uncertainty Highlights Need for Flexible Logistics Strategy

Reassessing the balance of risk to supply chains and the potential horrors of trying to find well-located warehouse space

Alan Gunner
Business Development Director, Adjuno
Starting at the source: achieving a sustainable supply chain

Alan outlines why the key is for organisations to take control and focus on achieving full visibility

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Conquering Connected Commerce

From the omnichannel dream to the retail reality, paving the way for future prosperity

Mark Jolley
EMEA Manufacturing, Transport & Logistics Solutions Sales Lead, Zebra Technologies
Augmented Reality is becoming a Retail Reality

4 ways this advanced technology is improving the shopping experience

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
The Cost of Doing Nothing

Retailers that continue to innovate, listen to their customers and invest in technology will reap the rewards;

Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
Are You Navigating Global UDI Compliance?

If so, you won't won't want to miss this year’s European UDI Forum, taking place in Brussels, April 24-25

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
How the Resource and Waste Strategy Can Empower Industry

The DEFRA’s Resource and Waste Strategy sets out to reduce waste, get businesses to place sustainability higher up the priority list

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
No more fashion victims - retailers will flock to copy ASOS’ returns clampdown

ASOS’ new crackdown on ‘wardrobing’ will be replicated by most stores, says ParcelHero

Georgia Leybourne
Senior Director International Marketing, Manhattan Associates
Are we embracing the profit potential of the over 50s?

Far more demanding in their retail habits, more likely to invest in big ticket items, much more money to spend vs the younger generation.

Jon Moody
Chief Executive Officer, SSG Insight
The Future of Supply Chain Management

SSG Insight CEO Jon Moody discusses the importance of adopting a digital supply chain in a post Brexit Britain and Industry 4.0

David Luttenberger
Global Packaging Director, Mintel
Mintel announces top global packaging trends for 2019 and beyond

Mintel, the world’s leading market intelligence agency, has today announced four trends impacting the global packaging industry in 2019 and beyond

Andrew Tavener
Head of Marketing, Descartes UK
Compliance Management – it’s time for joined up thinking

How joined-up approach to compliance data transforms the overhead & provides insight that can deliver additional efficiencies throughout the business

Stephen Cameron
Business Development Director, SWRnewstar
Primark's move to 100 per cent sustainably sourced cotton should be commended

Primark is one of the latest retailers to announce new measures to become more sustainable by launching 100% sustainably sourced cotton jeans.

Marc Corriveau
Account Manager, Loftware
Changes in packaging result in ROI for F&B products

If you work for a food and beverage company, you may have noticed something about your competitors

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for British businesses

It is likely that the prime minister will now have to request a long extension to article 50 at Thursday's Brussels summit

Will Broome
CEO, Ubamarket
Increasing competition in the digital age will be beneficial for the high street

Increasing competition regulation during the digital age will not only be beneficial for consumers

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Booking a courier? No printer required, says ParcelCompare

It’s a common misconception that a printer is essential when booking a courier pick-up.

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
Why an extension is best for food and drink businesses

Given that the Brexit referendum was only advisory, not in any way binding, there have really always been four potential outcomes open to us

Graham Parker
CEO, Gravity Supply Chain Solutions
Mitigating The Risks Of Trade Wars And Tariffs

As trade wars heat up, businesses need to protect their profit margins from increased tariffs.

Sam Ireland
International Marketing Manager, Loftware
How Brexit Will Impact Supply Chain Labeling?

The clock is ticking for the United Kingdom and European Union to finalize plans for the UK’s departure from the EU.

Sid Holian
Managing Director, Bis Henderson Consulting
Three critical steps to a hi-tech, agile supply chain

Retailers are facing a new reality and as a consequence supply chains must change.

Manu Tyagi
Associate Partner, Retail and Consumer Goods, Infosys Consulting
M&S and Ocado have signed a £750 million deal to take M&S groceries into the home delivery market

M&S’ deal with Ocado marks the high street retailer’s continued fight for survival, as it enters into the home delivery game.

Olivier Frère
Serialisaton Expert, Zetes
Understanding the Tobacco Products Directive

In a recent report issued by KPMG it was estimated that last year, counterfeit and contraband cigarette consumption was 8.7 % of total use in the EU

Dan Brown
Corporate Sector Director, SWRnewstar
Mind the gap: how the transport sector can meet targets to reduce avoidable waste

UK train companies are forever warning us to ‘Mind the Gap’.

Paul Heiden
Senior Vice President of Product Management, Ultimaker
6 overlooked benefits of 3D printing for your supply chain

Year on year, 3D printing is becoming more capable.

Dave Locke
EMEA Chief Technology Officer, WWT
Merged pharmaceutical firms seek fast-track route to savings

The pharmaceutical industry is preparing for an accelerated pace of consolidation, with the number of mergers up 39 per cent since 2017

David Jinks MILT
Head of Consumer Research, ParcelHero
Amazon and Alibaba are creating the biggest revolution in shipping for 60 years

Global e-commerce is leading the biggest shake up in international shipping since containerization

Johannes Panzer
Head of Industry Strategy for Ecommerce, Descartes
How to make international ecommerce transparent, efficient and cost-effective

Cross-border ecommerce provides organisations with, theoretically, a low-cost opportunity to break into new markets.

Stephan Buhre
Managing Director, Implico
Standardized data communication in the downstream oil and gas sector

Today’s downstream companies do no longer just trade oil and gas.

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
Putting the WOW in the checkout experience

Embracing technology is a prerequisite for success in the modern retail environment.

Richard Parfect
Fund Manager, Seneca Investment Managers
The cessation of Airbus A380 production

Richard Parfect, Fund Manager at Seneca Investment Managers, comments on the cessation of A380 production in 2021

John Perry
Managing Director, SCALA
What next for British business?

John Perry comments what next for British business

Chris Jones
EVP Marketing & Services, Descartes
5 Key Logistics Trends and Technology Implications for 2019

2018 can certainly be summarised as a turbulent year in logistics and transportation management

Craig Summers
UK Managing Director, Manhattan Associates
What is the Checkout of the Future?

To keep up with consumer expectations, the in-store experience, in particular, the process of checking out, needs to transform.