In a recently concluded webinar organised by Rockwell Automation titled ‘The Future of Supply Chain Automation’ business leaders from India’s leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) manufacturers emphasised the need for a long-term digital transformation strategy that leverages Industry 4.0 technologies at the enterprise level to better manage future disruptions caused by supply and demand shocks. Convinced that supply chain visibility and speed to market will determine success, the common view to emerge was that companies in the sector need to invest in tech-led solutions for creating an efficient, resilient, and agile supply chain that enables business continuity.
“We have seen during the pandemic how technology can provide you with a strong competitive advantage,” said Nandkumar Kulkarni, Director, Integrated Supply Chain, Mondelez India. “What do you do when your workforce is unable to travel to factories and the production must go on? You can now bring the factory to them. When it comes to distribution, India is a vast complex market where you need to have a visible footprint that allows you to see constraints and fix them immediately. Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) based technologies can now help predict the evolving consumer demand and move a large number of SKUs with unprecedented ease and accuracy. This type of investment will reward with a disproportionate return and needs to be a part of an organisation’s long-term digital strategy,” Kulkarni added.
“Tech-enabled supply chain visibility has been allowing India’s FMCG players to shift the inventory where needed and alter manufacturing schedules on the fly,” said, Dilip Sawhney, Managing Director, Rockwell Automation India. “Manufacturers who had invested in Industry 4.0 technology were able to outperform their competition over the last year and have come out stronger. Human-machine collaboration is no longer a fantasy. Winners in the future will be those who can blend and leverage human agility with the power of the machines to maximise value creation,” Sawhney added.
In another session titled ‘Reinventing the Supply Chain Management and Warehousing Industry,’ Senthil Kumar KK, National Manager, Supply Chain, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages, said, “It is critical that we regularly reconsider how we manage our supply chains in a changing market. Whether managing distribution costs or tapping growth opportunities in the rural market, we need to assemble top notch plans,” Kumar further said.
The exponential rise in e-commerce volumes and new consumption patterns have had an unprecedented and lasting impact on businesses. Faster and shorter demand cycles have created an urgent need for flexibility and agility in logistics. Retailers have realised this and are now deploying advanced technologies to strike the right balance between customer delivery expectations and sustaining their own profitability.
Satyam Choudhary, Senior Director, Flipkart, admitted that changes in demand have been swinging the supply chain erratically and that complexity has gone up in terms of material handling over the last year. Ram Somtia, Head, Supply Chain, Reliance Retail, said, “Juggling SKUs (stock keeping units) can be a nightmare in a market like India. In terms of building the capacity of warehouses, we were largely lucky to have our own facilities. Some of them are highly advanced in terms of technology, while others lack some of the sophistication. We will soon change that.”
Arvind Kakru, Country Head, Rockwell Automation, underscored the need for supply chains to look for more productive solutions that deliver the best consumer experience while helping manufacturers lower operating costs and increase accuracy. Speaking on the return of investment (RoI), he added, “Businesses will have to consider how best to leverage these technologies against their priorities. While there are capital-intensive projects like physical robotics, companies can also look at other technologies such as machine automation, and the interconnection between various devices to yield RoI in a shorter timeframe.”
Rockwell Automation has been deploying technologies like ‘Factory Talk Innovation Suite’ the world over to provide the most comprehensive and effective solutions for manufacturers to optimise people, products, and processes, and accelerate their digital transformation. The suite has infused edge-to-enterprise analytics, ML, internet of things (IoT), and augmented reality (AR) directly into their industrial operations. This powerful suite makes data more accessible for more informed decisions and facilitates long-term growth and continuous innovation.
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