Supply chains are suddenly under threat. Following years of low inflation and stable trade relations, executive teams in boardrooms across the globe are now grappling with rising inflation, a rapidly changing trade environment and the dire threat of an all-out trade war. Already, pressure is up sharply on earnings, and many leaders fear that traditional cost-saving measures may no longer be enough to avoid a heavy hit.
The movie "Back to the Future" showed us cars hovering in air in an idea of what 2015 would look like. Now in 2016, we see our cars still bound to the earth. However, when the movie was made, in 1985, most of the materials in modern vehicles didn't exist.
When companies bring products back from off-shored manufacturing operations, such as China, the processes cannot be simply dropped back into place and configured with the same old machines and process flows from 20 years back. Most re-shoring operations include new and upgraded equipment, software and, in some cases, advanced automation that includes collaborative intelligent industrial robots.
The Internet of Things has been widely celebrated as a game-changing technology for field service and maintenance applications because it allows one device to "talk" to another, communicating when a machine or system could potentially degrade or fail. But what if the "breakdown" is occurring not within a facility or a production process, but within the human body?
A lean, agile supply chain network is important in the hyper-competitive global marketplace, but this increased reliance on contractors and their subcontractors brings all kinds of increased risk and with it a heightened responsibility to closely vet and monitor supplier performance and behavior.
The recent bankruptcy of Hanjin container line clearly illustrates some of the risks involved in the global supply chain today. As The Guardian reports, "the bankruptcy of the Hanjin shipping line has thrown ports and retailers around the world into confusion, with giant container ships marooned and merchants worrying whether hundreds of tons of goods being carried by the South Korean company will reach shelves."
Effective supply chain communication is critical to virtually every area of your manufacturing business. Relationships between suppliers and OEMs can sometimes be tenuous but they require intense collaboration to work.