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Smart devices create smart production lines, enabling a significant level of manufacturing agility that makes it possible to connect customer needs with a company’s ability to deliver a product - on demand. Today’s manufacturers must be better able to adapt quickly to specific consumer preferences. Add in new technology that creates an unprecedented feedback loop between companies and their customers in which products could actually be designed - or highly influenced - by the end-user, and you have the makings for a revolution in how products are designed and produced. The question is how do manufacturers position themselves to thrive in this new world?
In response to these technology advances, and powered by investments in manufacturing operations IT, the traditional practices of lean manufacturing have grown to revolve around pull strategies, wherein supply chain, procurement, production and distribution are based on the pull of demand (as opposed to push, based on forecasting). Designing an operating model to best leverage pull processes is an ever-shifting challenge.
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