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Navigating Disruption: Building Resilient Supply Chains

Navigating Disruption: The Role of Automation in Building Resilient Supply Chains

From the pandemic to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, there have been a series of impactful supply chain disruptions over recent years. Such disruptions have come at a considerable cost, with businesses reported as losing 10% of annual revenue on average. However, automation is emerging as a key player in building supply chain resilience at this time of transformation.

As industries face an ever-growing number of challenges, the integration of technologies such as robotic materials handling, predictive analytics, and demand forecasting is becoming crucial for the avoidance and minimisation of disruption. Read on as we highlight the beneficial impacts of such technologies in this blog.

Robotic Materials Handling

Used increasingly across such sectors as automation, electronics and machinery, robots are having a revolutionary impact on materials handling and manufacturing. From order picking to packing and palletising these robots are being used for an ever-increasing number of purposes.

The accuracy and consistency of such robotic systems makes for the reduction of waste and better product quality. What’s more, the automation of repetitive and menial tasks means that better use can be made of human skills and abilities.

Mike Wilson, Chief Automation Officer at The Manufacturing Technology Centre, has emphasised these benefits of robot system integration:

  • Improved use of space and energy
  • Increased productivity
  • Extendable production hours
  • Better utilisation of staff
  • Minimisation of damage and breakages
  • Improved health and safety
  • Less waste and rework.

There are numerous examples of manufacturing businesses realising such benefits. Mike Wilson gave the example of a small factory in Luton which produces industrial floor tiles. They have a robotic system that unloads the injection moulding machines. There are just two people present in the factory during working hours. And it could be run with one, if the law permitted.

Automate UK has also highlighted the example of a Finnish bread loaves and rolls firm which has adopted a robotic system including high-performance vision technology. This has resulted in a much-reduced error rate and higher throughput of goods.

Predictive Analytics in Supply Chain Management

Businesses should be looking to adopt artificial intelligence and other technologies for predictive analytics given the potentially significant impact of supply chain disruptions. Such technologies can provide data-driven insights for better decision making and risk mitigation. They can enable the identification of patterns and trends, with expected demand and suitable pricing strategies being established. Optimal inventory levels and logistics can also be determined for the satisfaction of customer demand.

As highlighted in the recent Automate UK article focusing on transformative manufacturing trends, the convergence of advanced technologies has led to the rise of smart factories. Tapping into the potential of artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things, such factories are better able to predict maintenance issues and optimise the supply chain. Adopted by major international businesses such as Google and Amazon, predictive supply chains are driving a higher return on investment and improved inventory management.

Demand Forecasting for Agile Responses

Companies have faced difficulty in adapting to changes of consumer behaviour, markets, and supply chains over recent years. The immense scale and pace of change has highlighted the need for increased agility. Again, predictive technologies can make the difference in accurately forecasting demand for the best use of business resources. Planners should be given access to real-time data so that they can address likely drops in demand, supply shortages and logistical challenges.

Developed for installation companies, Fabory Logic is an excellent example of technology that has allowed for improved demand forecasting and agile responses. Providing end-to-end visibility and control over everything from procurement to manufacturing and distribution, this software has allowed companies to streamline their operations, reduce costs, mitigate risks, and enhance overall project efficiency. With real-time tracking and monitoring capabilities, Fabory Logic enables improved order tracking and the early identification of potential delays or disruptions.

Integration of Automation Technologies

From materials handling to demand forecasting, there’s potential for the combined use of automation technologies for a collective impact on supply chain resilience. Indeed, forward-thinking companies should be embracing such opportunities given the benefits in terms of efficiency and effectiveness. This will make for the development of stronger and more resilient supply chains.

These benefits may also be realised in the integration of automation technologies:

  • Increased visibility over each phase of the supply chain
  • Access to real-time data for improved decision making
  • Greater agility and adaptability in the face of potentially disruptive events
  • Improved collaboration and communication between supply chain partners.

All of the project stakeholders must be in alignment for the best chance of successful integration, with a shared understanding of the expected benefits. Each phase of supply chain optimisation should be seen as part of the wider company mission of delivering the best customer experience. A continuously proactive approach must be taken in adapting these technologies to future-proof supply chains and ensure sustained success in an ever-evolving business landscape.

Stay Informed with Automate UK

As the leading trade association for automation suppliers and technology end users, Automate UK promises to keep you updated on the latest developments in supply chain automation. We encourage you to explore our expert resources for guidance in the appropriate choice and adoption of technologies for improved supply chain resilience.

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