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Over the past years manufacturers have increased the pace at which they use Industry 4.0 technologies to enhance supply-chain readiness and performance. These were some of the key findings of a recent MPI 2021 Industry 4.0 study, which describes how manufacturers applied digital technologies to improve supply-chain metrics, enhance supplier and customer collaboration, and boost productivity and profits.

Industry 4.0 Connects to the Supply Chain

The study highlighted that by implementing Industry 4.0, manufacturers can access critical information in real time and take decisions that are based on actionable, role-based data from across the supply chain. Additionally, with the application of smart devices and/or embedded intelligence into operations, coordination with suppliers has been improved. For example, as manufacturers are most likely to share quality metrics, production schedules and new product plans across the supply chain with data flowing to and from suppliers and customers, supply chain function are more cohesive as partners are rapidly informed of changing conditions.

The Supply Chain Impact and Challenges of Industry 4.0

The study is clear that applying Industry 4.0 across your Supply Chain can help to reduce the supply chain costs through increased productivity and profitability for manufacturers. And the benefits can be further seen when partners were also digitally connected.

But the study also highlighted that getting all partners connected can be a challenge because some might struggle with the implementation or are slow in applying Industry 4.0 technologies. Another challenge is the concerns around the network infrastructure and securely of delivering data in actionable formats.

Survey Findings

Industry 4.0 offers significant opportunities to manufacturers to improve supply-chain practices and performances. But the MPI Industry 4.0 Study finds that many are not taking full advantage of digital tools to connect suppliers and customers.

To deliver new customer value via digitally connected supply chains, manufacturers should invest more in their development by:

  • Identifying suppliers and customers open to Industry 4.0-enabled, real-time information-sharing.

  • Assessing disparate technologies at supply-chain partners like systems, networks, applications to determine where connectivity offers significant improvements or mitigates significant risks.

  • Deploying new technologies (e.g., Industry 4.0 devices, networks) and talent to leverage real-time data from suppliers and customers, boosting productivity and profits

Increasingly (but not fast enough), manufacturing leaders recognized how important the investment in Industry 4.0 is and what impact is has for them to become a digital innovator.

To learn more — and to benchmark your organization’s digital progress — download the MPI mini summary for Supply Chain here.