Covid-19 has impacted the entire manufacturing value chain, from raw material sourcing to design, manufacturing and distribution. While a disruption in the supply chain was felt almost immediately, one of the most lasting impacts has been the establishment of a direct line of communication between the consumer and the manufacturer.
Traditionally, with distributors acting as mediators, manufacturers were unlikely to interact directly with customers. As e-commerce and online direct-selling models have gained traction during the pandemic, customers are now able to interact and provide direct feedback to manufacturers.
It has also pushed manufacturers into an era of large-scale personalization where a consumer can potentially personalize the product they want to purchase. For example, if a customer buys a sofa, they can choose the design, color, or style and have it made to their exact specifications, rather than buying something off the shelf. This shift from standard production to mass customization can be used by manufacturers to build brand strength and loyalty. It also results in product differentiation and allows organizations to charge higher prices.
The transition to the “new normal” will force manufacturing companies to rethink their entire process, from design to completion.
The dawn of a new era
Manufacturing 3.0 focused on the globalization of talent, materials and operations. Various aspects of the manufacturing lifecycle, from design, prototyping, engineering, manufacturing, assembly and distribution, have been carried out in geographically diverse contexts.
The global disruption caused by the pandemic has spawned Manufacturing 4.0, where the cloud, IoT, and other new technologies are forcing industry to re-evaluate the manufacturing lifecycle. To avoid relying on a single geography or market, they are now looking for a different approach that emphasizes local alternatives to counter global disruptions.
Technology undoubtedly has an important role to play in facilitating a smart manufacturing approach. Today, robust feedback mechanisms can deliver customer information directly to the manufacturer without any reliance on the distributor.
This transformation requires a digital platform powered by Coud technologies as a backbone. Our own experience shows that manufacturers who had moved mission-critical applications to the cloud were able to withstand the pandemic better as their employees could work productively even in a remote setup. Therefore, manufacturers need to move their systems and data to the cloud as quickly as possible to reap the benefits of better technology scalability, tighter supply and demand agility, and greater flexibility. better financial health.
While businesses can’t predict when a public health crisis or other natural disaster might occur, they can help mitigate the effects of unexpected disruptions by performing risk assessments. They can identify potential operational, financial and internal market risks, determine direct and indirect impacts and generate contingency plans in the event of unexpected disruptions.
Role of business applications
As the changes brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic lead to a transition to manufacturing 4.0, technologies such as automation, IoT, 5G and cyber-physical systems are partnering with the cloud to drive an approach to smart factory. Fueled by a set of business applications, intelligent supply chains open up a multitude of new opportunities to bring greater scalability, exponential growth and more predictability.
For example, machine learning-based business applications can help ensure optimal storage, thereby minimizing waste from overstocking as well as lost revenue from out-of-stock. Likewise, automation and IoT can ensure efficient real-time production planning. Predictive analytics can help optimize planning, sourcing, and logistics to improve supply chain performance, even during disruption. Microsoft has led the way with its offering of platforms, business applications and advanced tools that enable organizations to jump into the new era of manufacturing. Microsoft offers features such as planning optimization that enables organizations to gain planning agility to meet customer demand and sensor data intelligence to create a smarter connected factory and innovate with operations. smart manufacturing.
These applications can also facilitate large-scale mass personalization by providing greater intelligence and visibility. For example, Microsoft’s offerings allow end users to customize various aspects of the product they intend to purchase to suit their needs and choices. For the end customer, this facilitates an engaging overall experience and greater inclusion in the value chain. Finally, AI-powered customer and sales analytics tools help assess demand forecasts and drive product innovation based on intelligent insights into customer behaviors and market trends. .
The pandemic has highlighted the importance of having diverse supply chains, smart manufacturing, an empowered remote workforce, and cloud-based business applications. All of these are driving a noticeable shift in manufacturing business models towards a much more customer-centric approach.
About the Author
Lax Gopisetty is Vice President, Global Practice Head for Microsoft Business Applications & Digital Workplace Services, Infosys. He is a senior business leader driving the growth of digital transformation with the Digital Workplace Services and Microsoft Business Applications practice for Global 2000 clients across industries and regions.
Gopisetty has over 25 years of global management consulting experience with Infosys, Accenture, PWC and IBM, advising global companies in their complex business transformation initiatives based on the latest technological developments. Its aim is to provide innovative solutions, disruptive and relevant approaches, creating new possibilities enabled by technology and the creation of value so that our clients are companies ready for the future and founded on digital capacities.
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Redesign of manufacturing through business applications
Global disruption caused by a pandemic is giving birth to Manufacturing 4.0, where cloud, IoT and new technologies are forcing industry to re-evaluate the manufacturing lifecycle.