Author: Beth Parkinson, Market Development Director, Connected Enterprise, Rockwell Automation
Manufacturing requires dozens of handoffs, as goods and materials move through suppliers, inbound transportation, receiving, production, packaging, shipping, outbound transportation, and then to customers.
Any problem — a quality reject, a missing component — sends ripples of delay across the supply chain, jeopardizing delivery and customer satisfaction.
There’s a better way.
In a Connected Enterprise enabled by Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, supply-chain activities are digitally coordinated. This allows suppliers to react in real time when problems arise. More importantly, The Connected Enterprise offers powerful supply-chain advantages:
- Suppliers can respond instantly to end-customer demand signals
- Logistics plans can be created as production is scheduled
- Agile plants can optimize resources based on real-time data regarding demand
- Customers can monitor the status of products and prepare for delivery
- Business analytics can improve performance across the supply chain
This new transparency across the supply chain offers significant opportunities for improved productivity and profitability, as well as reduced costs (e.g., lower inventories, improved labor and asset utilization).
When the IoT links all internal functions (e.g., information for analytics by finance, human resources, R&D, etc.); and all suppliers (e.g., forecasts, schedules); and all customers (e.g., order status, product specifications) — overall supply-chain performance is optimized as well as the performance and returns of the individual companies.
It’s important to note that this high level of coordination, collaboration, and success — enabled by IoT technologies — is possible today. If your company isn’t yet operating as a Connected Enterprise, follow this four-step plan to facilitate supply-chain improvement:
Evaluate your company’s ability to use production controls and embedded devices to capture and share real-time data; your information infrastructure; and your big-data solutions to act on information. What’s antiquated — or missing altogether?
Prioritize the risks that missing or legacy IoT components pose to operations (e.g., safety, quality, timeliness), the enterprise (e.g., data security), and the supply chain (e.g., satisfied customers). Budget and plan for upgrades.
Start leveraging real-time data from devices, assets, and applications. Harmonize performance across the supply chain by sharing data.
Transform data into business intelligence for The Connected Enterprise — and the supply chain — to help improve decision-making for product lifecycles, production, supplier management, transportation options, service and support, etc.
Suppliers want the real-time information that an IoT-enabled Connected Enterprise can offer. Customers demand the visibility and performance that an IoT-enabled Connected Enterprise can provide.
What are you waiting for?