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Manufacturers need to understand the power of ‘where’

Nikhil Kumar, Country Head, India, HERE Technologies shares his insights on ways in which location intelligence and technology can help rebuild India’s manufacturing sector in a post COVID-19 era.

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Industry 4.0, Last-mile delivery, Intelligent supply chain, COVID-19, Internet of Things, Autonomous guide vehicles, Atamanirbhar Bharat

For the Indian manufacturing sector, COVID-19 crisis presents a watershed moment. As conversations around local production gain steam with the call for “Atamanirbhar Bharat” (a self-sufficient India), companies are looking to ‘think global, act local’ in a bid to push for resilient supply chains and sustainable businesses. As social distancing becomes a norm, the companies will need to reconsider raw materials sourcing, supply chain optimisation, floor management strategy, manufacturing cycles, transportation of raw, part, finished goods along with workforce welfare.

In the aftermath of the pandemic, one of the critical lessons learnt is the need to accelerate the ‘digital-first’ approach. Leveraging connected technologies such as IoT (Internet of things) and cloud computing to transform every touchpoint into a sensor thereby providing real-time business insights as well as addressing concerns (even before they arise) is now a must-have. Something that could help the manufacturers develop a better understanding of how the systems work or why they fail in addition to providing valuable insights to make informed, on-the-go decisions related to demand forecast and products the customers want.

The value of location intelligence
For the decision-makers, this means a delicate balancing act. Navigating a ‘new normal’ with an extensive network of sourcing partners, multiple distributors, service providers and physical locations, the last-mile delivery with a constantly looming threat of unexpected disruptions or delays without any additional costs, can be a daunting exercise.

At the heart of the entire manufacturing operations of an organization, however, sits rich and intelligent equation of ‘location’ that can help tremendously to improve the efficiency and safety of the entire resource structure of an organization. Real-time, precise and detailed insights into the ‘where’ component of any step in the process can allow manufacturers to locate and track the movement of any connected object or people (indoors or outdoors) with an unprecedented level of precision. This can contribute in enhancing and optimising production output, last-mile delivery, operational efficiency as well as rebuilding resilient & sustainable supply chains worldwide. Location technologies such as geofences, routing algorithms, API trackers and digital indoor maps are today opening up exciting opportunities that can, in fact, enable safe operation of autonomous guide vehicles (AGVs) such as forklifts and inventory carts.

Creating intelligent supply chains
Intelligent and smart supply chains can create additional business value by enabling accurate planning of production. Managers can trust the materials to reach them on-time or they receive advance notice to re-plan resources. Always-on tracking technologies can facilitate end-to-end visibility into how their supply chains are managing the ETA of shipments. Integrating this information with other enterprise planning tools can lead to the business process optimization with minimum human involvement. Real-time visibility into market demand-supply gaps along with the real-time movement of cargo from the distribution centres can help the companies redirect stock to oversee sudden changes. Thus, spatial technologies and analytics can empower retailers, on-demand services, and logistics providers to streamline business operations.

Greater visibility into the supply chains at any given moment can also help in minimizing the inventory manufacturing process. With real-time access to information on where the raw materials are, the manufacturers can predict the possible bottlenecks and so are able to continually measure their impact on the entire manufacturing operations process. This can allow supply chain managers and manufacturers to reduce the inventory thereby translating into savings of the material cost as well as goods sold metrics.

The success of any manufacturing story rests upon its last-mile delivery. The advanced sensor technologies can now help track fleets of trucks and trailers. With access available to massive amounts of actionable data, the manufacturers can streamline their delivery to ensure driver safety and efficient last-mile delivery. The latest location intelligence technologies work even within centimetres of accuracy with remote WI-FI access points, Bluetooth readers, and cell IDs without GPS signal to present data on live traffic, road conditions, weather conditions and driver behaviour to help them make far better predictions: ultimately enhancing and impacting the customer satisfaction.

Advantage: Location
Various industry estimates and media reports indicate that India’s manufacturing sector, supported by conducive government policy is expected to reach USD 1 trillion by 2025. With huge domestic demand, the industry needs to reflect and leverage rich, real-time and accurate location-based technology to spur us on towards a better, meaningful, and resilient industry 4.0.

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