Advancing sustainability with technology:

Digital twinning and more

As we enter a new era of work, technology, and global business, we are witnessing the implementation of new innovations and the transformation of supply chain operations across the globe. In this article, I’ll be discussing sustainability initiatives, digital twinning, smart glass, and more changes taking place across global supply chain operations, as well as how these trends will affect recruitment.

Change Finally Afoot

A combination of COVID-19 and the ever looming threat of environmental collapse have given rise to the biggest challenges that we have faced in a generation. With the recent publication of the U.N’s climate panel, it is now a stark reality that we need to make drastic changes and make them now before the damage is irreversible. With that in mind, more and more organisations are making drastic changes within the Supply Chain and Manufacturing processes, with some businesses really driving this due to the link they see between sustainability and profits.

Businesses have now realized that by combining the digital and physical world, they can do more with less. This, combined with smart analytics to deliver optimum forecasting from ever more demanding customers, has led to some businesses thriving during the pandemic as they take more market share.

During a recent LinkedIn poll where I asked, ‘What is the best way to improve sustainability within the supply chain?’, we found supply chain professionals split evenly between Sustainable Sourcing, Efficient Manufacturing and Digitalisation & Analytics, proving that we need to be looking across the entire Value Chain for sustainability solutions.

Sustainable Sourcing

A company is only as sustainable as the start of its supply chain. This covers many facets, including environmental, social and economic criteria and has previously been brought to the public’s attention with high profile cases in child labor, toxic paint in toys, and factory collapses in various low-cost sourcing locations. Price has been pushed down in the pecking order in favor of best practice.

With Unilever providing products used by around 2.5 billion people a day, they have committed to every material they purchase being covered by their Responsible Sourcing Policy. They implement this across their value chain, everything from developing standards like the Rainforest Alliance to providing free software to farmers to ensure traceability of any product.

Digital twinning and more

The technology now being used within manufacturing sites is truly cutting edge and will continue to be while businesses can see the economic value of investment. Along with Big Data, Advanced Analytics and Machine Learning, ‘Digital Twinning’ has seen exponential growth. A Digital Twin is a virtual replica of a product or process, created through the transfer of data through the use of sensors and scanners.  This allows the 3D modelling to be analyzed in a whole host of ways – from where improvements can be made in the production process through to testing where materials can be reduced. This process not only helps with performance optimization but can also assess Asset Lifecycle Management.

Forecasts predict that by 2025, the Digital Twinning industry will have grown at CAGR 38.1% and be worth $30.1b. It is a technology being implemented by all major consumer businesses to reduce time of manufacture and improve efficiencies across the entire supply chain, creating more profit and helping with the net-zero emissions goal set out by so many businesses.

Digitalisation and Analytics

One key takeaway from COVID-19 has been the need for much more flexible and intuitive supply chains, with the added bonus of creating something more sustainable. Being able to create a far more accurate demand and supply forecast, as well as track and trace, means less waste and less need to ship a product multiple times.

Microsoft wasted no time in responding to disruptions in the supply chain at the onset of the pandemic. They harnessed blockchain technology to optimise their supply chain, resulted in reduced cycle time and improved end-to-end traceability capabilities. It heavily reduced costs associated with supply chain logistics as well. The platform in question that Microsoft uses enables all parties to view and contribute to the data being processed: “The digitized assets on the platform include serialized inventory and the statements of work, purchase orders, invoices, as well as shipment and receipt notices associated with those goods across all parties.”

This is an example of how using technology can drive efficiency in the supply chain. By incorporating such an innovation into their logistics operations, Microsoft is now able to reduce wait times, disseminate data more easily, and ultimately improve their supply chain.

Carbon Reduction

One great example of wholistic supply chain thinking has come from consumer goods business Henkel.  They are aiming for ‘climate positive’ sustainability and are leveraging machine learning to optimize energy intensive processes. This has led to one of their plants reducing its costs by 15%, accelerating the time to market by 30%, and shrinking its carbon footprint by 10%. None of this can be done without investing in the very best talent on the market whilst ensuring the very best training from industry leaders.

Talent to drive profit

Organisations across the globe are realising that they need to make changes and they need to make them now. The businesses that have had the greatest success are those that appreciate that change across the value chain needs to occur, and the best way of doing this is bringing in the best talent.

The challenge they are finding is one that never changes. The best talent is always looked after and always in demand, so finding those with Digitalisation, Ecommerce, Sustainability or Smart Manufacturing experience has become a difficult task. Over the last 6 months, I have found that rather than businesses looking for specific candidates, they are more open to seeing exceptional talent from cutting edge value chain and creating positions within the organization . For one particular MNC business, we have now been told ‘find us the best talent and we will find a spot.’

A new reverse-engineered recruitment process is now upon us. Rather than looking to fill spots, businesses are focusing on looking for talent and moulding positions to fit them.

Please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me to discuss all things supply chain further. For more insights on digitalisation from Proco Global, visit our website here.

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