How intelligent automation will impact and revitalise global supply chains

The idea of automation in manufacturing and the supply chain is nothing new – since the earliest days of the industrial revolution we have sought to automate tasks with machines, and lower the cost of manufacturing processes.

In countless cases, the application of machines, and more recently software, has meant improvements in the consistency of products, facilitated near 24/7/365 production and has meant staff can be focused on higher value tasks in their company.

Yet the use of technology in the industry may not be fully understood; a recent Capgemini survey showed that nearly half (48%) of UK office workers are optimistic about the impact automation technologies can have. However, while respondents to the survey had a general idea of the benefits that might accrue, they were less clear as to how these technologies could be applied to their specific area of work. And worryingly, only 20% said they felt their organisations were currently benefiting from automation – clearly the industry is missing a trick.

However, as utilisation stagnates for certain companies, the market is maturing. Automation is now reaching far beyond simple process software and mechanisation. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cognitive computing, advanced robotics, Digital Fabrication and blockchain are becoming increasingly popular, bringing together the power of automation and analytics.

Yet other areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which are proven enablers for new ways of optimizing the supply chain and manufacturing processes, are less understood. It’s agile, forward-thinking businesses that are able to utilise these technologies in a thoughtful way that will reap the benefits.

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Lasting Effects of Supply Chain Mismanagement

In New York City, March 25, 1911, 123 women and 23 men died from fire, smoke inhalation, or falling or jumping to their deaths when a fire broke out in the building where their factory resided on the eighth, ninth, and tenth floors.

The incident was known as the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire and is the deadliest industrial disaster in the history of the New York City.

This tragedy and loss of life eventually led to legislation requiring improved factory safety standards.

While this famous incident is over 100-years-old, workplace deaths and injuries are still happening today.

In a recent case, Cusseta, Ala., Regina Elsea was working at an auto parts manufacturer on the assembly line when a mishap occurred, and Elsea was impaled by one of the robots. She died the following day.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration reviewed Elsea’s case and found the contracting company she worked for was in violation of a federal law that could have prevented her death.

Sadly, in both cases these accidents could have been prevented with better evaluation of contractors and adherence to higher standards of safety in the workplace.

Read more at Lasting Effects of Supply Chain Mismanagement

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