By Franck Lheureux, Regional Vice President, EMEA, JDA Software.
As 2016 draws to a close, it's clear that the next 12 months are set to be extremely disruptive for the manufacturing industry.
Considering that the industry has largely concentrated on becoming cost-effective rather than lean, this means manufacturers must be prepared for change. It became apparent at JDA FocusConnect 2016 that industry heavyweights, including Stanley Black & Decker, Philips and Nestlé Purina, are ready for battle.
So exactly what does that change look like, and how does the industry prepare? Through the course of keynotes, workshops and the flow of conversation at the event, a number of several key trends emerged:
- Drones in the warehouse. Kenco's Innovation Research Manager Matt McLelland has been getting hands-on with drone technology for the last couple of years. Tasked with figuring out what drones mean in a warehouse environment, he dismissed the common preconception that drones will soon be carrying items around warehouses (they are too heavy), and explained how they will instead be used for scanning codes to monitor inventory levels.
- The supply chain of the future. Rob Bingley, VP Supply Chain & Logistics for the Global Tools & Storage division at Stanley Black & Decker, outlined how the firm had made a journey toward becoming a connected and automated business. Rob went on to highlight that Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) is now the company's primary rhythm to gauge operational effectiveness.
- Supply chain segmentation in Europe. In addition to the voices from the business world, academic insight was also added in the form of Warwick University's Professor Janet Godsell. Janet presented the top-level findings of a Warwick and JDA study of 100 manufacturing organizations across Europe. The study shone a light on the window of opportunity for manufacturers to derive a competitive advantage from segmenting their supply chains. Warwick and JDA will be publishing the full findings from the research in the coming weeks.
- A focus on industry drivers. Futurist Gerd Leonhard said four key economies are set to drive industry over the coming years: experience/memory-based, circular/sustainable, on-demand/sharing, and most interestingly for manufacturers, the maker economy. With 3D printers creating airplane parts on runways in the not-too-distant future, manufacturing is set to become more accessible and mobile than ever before.
What does this mean for those working within the manufacturing industry? JDA Software Chairman of the Board and CEO Bal Dail said to succeed, businesses need to act like Lionel Messi: arguably the greatest footballer on the planet, Barcelona's number 10 is always on the move. By standing still they risk being tackled, but if they can keep adjusting and finding a way to exploit the shifting situation on the pitch in front of them, manufacturers will be able to surge forward and put the ball in the back of the net.