Digital Manufacturing Responding to Continuously Changing Consumer Trends

Responding to Changing Consumer Trends

The need to adopt digitalization in the face of ever-changing consumer behaviour is putting increased pressure on manufacturers of products and their suppliers.

A key market trend is that consumers want greater variety and more intuitive tailored-product selection combined with instant delivery.

While in the past consumers could select only what they wanted based on what was available on the shelf, now we are seeing them check all the options online before getting confirmation on availability and then ordering from multiple sources – at the best available prices.

Indeed, our customers are telling us that demand for higher variability by consumers is accelerating the adoption of new technology for process control.

Suppliers are no longer just competing against their traditional long-term competitors, but are now also feeling the pressure of shorter lead times, greater margin erosion and the cost of higher investments in online platforms. Many have told us that increased global competition is driving implementation of smarter plants for the younger generation.

While we are only at the beginning of this new consumer paradigm, it is clear that we need to build manufacturing plants that are not only capable of responding to these current needs, but to those in the future too, in order to stay in business.

The drive for digitalization therefore has – through various country initiatives – accelerated the need for digital manufacturing plants that offer the highest flexibility, combined with reduced production costs.

Although these are not new to most industries, it’s clear that the speed of change demanded by the market is driving and accelerating the adoption of these needs in manufacturing processes.

To achieve these new goals, it’s clear that a digital plant is no longer contained within the walls of the plant itself, but instead stretches to the complete supply chain – from raw materials to the shops where consumers can order or buy their products.

When looking at a digital plant, it is clear that a separate DCS system is no longer an option, instead an integrated digital DCS is required to not only quickly meet these flexible production demands, but also to play a much larger role in the digital factory of the future. This is backed up by one customer, who told us “doing the same we did five years ago would set us back 20 years, so we need to digitalize our plants tomorrow.”

Having a single view on all areas of the supply chain requires an open-source platform in a cyber-secure environment. Quick decisions need to have a solid foundation, one that collects, analyses and disseminates large quantities of data in a context understandable to corporate planners and plant managers.

While trying to address ever-changing consumer behaviour, governments are also implementing new legislations to ensure the consumers are also protected against poor quality products, which could have a detrimental effect on their health.

This requires manufacturing plants to implement robust track-and-trace procedures covering the entire value chain – from the suppliers of the raw materials all the way along to individual consumers their product quality.

All of this “big data” needs to be stored, but also contextualised for quick reaction when required for remediation solutions.

Come to our booth at Achema to discover how we are helping companies of all sizes and levels of investment to create the plants of the future with our scalable digital DCS.

While you’re here, you can also learn how a single-use bio tech reactor plays an equally critical role, addressing these types of demands in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as how we can help you through enterprise-based serialization solutions to help you stay compliant.

Alain Hermans
Posted May 18, 2018 By Alain Hermans, Process Leader, EMEA, Rockwell Automation
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