According to McKinsey 93% of manufacturing and supply-chain professionals plan to focus on the resilience of their supply chain with Industry 4.0 technologies in the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis.

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Connectivity and Data

In the aftermath of Covid-19, new technologies such as seamless collaboration during remote work, sensors, internet of things (IoT) and cloud technologies, are offering new opportunities to companies.

By adopting quick-win solutions that help companies respond and adapt to the new norms—such as tracking employee health, enforcing safe distancing on the shop floor, and supporting remote collaboration, large improvements can be made with relatively small investments in the digital infrastructure of a company.

Analytics and Intelligence

With the vast amount of data generated in each area of the value chain, advanced analytics, machine learning and artificial intelligence can help turning data into insights that improve the overall performance of a company.

Advanced analytics and trend data from events such as the eruption of Covid-19 cases could be used to build a digital twin of a companies supply network.

This in turn can be utilised to predict customer and supplier behaviour in advance so that the lead time can be used to respond with countermeasures and adjustments to production plans and required resources.

Human-machine interaction

Technologies such as Chatbots – also known as "conversational agents" – are software applications that mimic written or spoken human speech for the purposes of simulating a conversation or interaction with a real person.

At the heart of chatbot technology lies natural language processing or NLP, that gets smarter with the amount of data and conversations conducted.

Chatbots can offer authentic conversational experiences with use cases such as a companion for dementia patients, making medical diagnoses faster, raising brand awareness, generating and assigning supplier orders and many more.

Planning for operations

A core element of manufacturing and supply-chain operations has always been planning.

Traditionally, this has been conducted in silos, with demand forecasting, supply planning, production and logistics planning, as well as sales and operations planning (S&OP) are all handled by separate teams. Only by breaking silos and considering the entire value chain, end-to-end visibility can be ensured.

By having the right ERP and Planning systems, the potential impact from optimised planning becomes more evident. To succeed, collaboration across multiple functions and stakeholders need to be ensured, whilst continuously optimising internal processes.