Over the past five years we have experienced a dramatic change in the role that manufacturing has played as part of the fabric that ties together our global economies. No longer seen as simply “black boxes” in the supply network that simply consumed materials and produced products — manufacturing has experienced a renaissance whereby investment has returned with an expectation of continued growth into the future. In today’s demand-driven reality, the role of the factory has evolved to necessitate greater flexibility and an ability to adapt to real-time sales information, resulting in better customer satisfaction, efficiency and profits.
Considerable publicity has surrounded manufacturing as a “savior,” with the potential of bringing economies of entire countries back from the brink of the last financial crisis. Output and asset efficiency have increased while waste and response times have been reduced.
But what about the supply chain? Clearly its role is intertwined within the improved productivity and product proliferation now virtually expected by consumers in the automotive, consumer goods and life sciences industries. Yet most of the public discussion has focused on the “end producer” or the manufacturer that is delivering the final goods to each of their respective marketplaces. Look for this to change in 2014.