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AI, VR and AR, internet of things, 3D-printing, disruptive innovation. How do these buzz words affect supply chain planning and design? Christiane Vejlø, renowned trend analyst focusing on digitalization, shared her views and advice as keynote speaker at Supply Chain Conference September 7.
– The digital trend is relevant to all of us and you need to be agile to meet the changes that digitalization brings.
For Christiane Vejlø, the digitalization is not about technology. It’s about people – and communication.
– It doesn’t matter if you work with B2C or B2B, the customer is still a human being. But within B2B the communication is often boring and technical. Put on different glasses and explore what your partners and customers are involved in, what kind of apps do they use? This is an important approach also within supply chain.
A key message from Christiane Vejlø is the importance of listening to the ”annoyers” – people who question your way of doing things and point out weaknesses when it comes to keeping up with the development.
– Invite the person you find most annoying, the one who criticizes and challenges you. If you don’t, someone else will, and they will outsmart you.
Christiane Vejlø also stressed the exponential development of new technology, and how it will affect planning and optimizing – in real-time.
– The exponential development means that we can’t plan for the future by looking at the past. Like planning for a new large building and trying to calculate the size of the parking area; but when the building is ready in ten years you don’t know if we’ll be using our own cars anymore.
Among new technologies, Christiane Vejlø lifted VR (virtual reality) and AR (augmented reality) as important tools for all kinds of industries, enabling new possibilities for planning, simulation and education. You don’t need to physically demonstrate products to customers, instead they can use VR or AR to see the product and learn how to use it.
– When planning a new warehouse or storage facility, you can simulate the design plan, walk around the building, see what the view will look like, how the light will fall during the day, and simulate to optimize the different facilities and so on.
A question you need to ask yourself is if you’re enhancing or truly inventing.
– It’s understandable to use the logic that ”we put so much money and work in to building this platform – let’s just add to the platform”. But sometimes you need to kill your darlings and reinvent, let go of the stuff you have used in many years, because the fundament has changed.
3D-printing will most certainly be one of these fundamental changes, with large impact on the supply chain. As an example, Christiane Vejlø mentioned the Danish company Thürmer Tools, which has manufactured patented square dies since 1898. Facing the challenge of 3D-printing, they chose to embrace the new technology, offering customers 3D-printing of their products.
– This is an example of when you turn a risk into something good: ”What’s the biggest threat to our business? Let’s do that!”
See a short version of Christiane Vejlø’s keynote from the Supply Chain Conference 2017 in the Optilon Academy post Your digital future is already here.