Weekly News Review | 19 June 2017 | Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain Automotive Purchasing and Supply Chain

Talking Point

The role of IT in every part of tomorrow’s supply chain

At the Automotive Leaders Summit that took place on 13 & 14 June in Liverpool, some interesting themes emerged; topics that illustrate many of the concerns of the industry in these presently somewhat turbulent times.

As well as capacity concerns, a subject that seems to be a perennial bugbear of the sector, speakers, panellists and delegates voiced their opinions on personnel shortages, in both skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled sectors, and debated the impacts of Brexit and the new Industry 4.0 initiatives.

The ‘glue’ that seemed to tie all these, and many other, topics together was the need for intelligent IT solutions, be they within the vehicle - connectivity, self-driving cars and trucks - to ‘joined-up’ thinking and systems to power the supply chain more efficiently.

In a session entitled ‘Adapting to Digital’, one presenter spoke about Moore’s Law - the exponential growth of technology in data and IT, and talked about an IT model used in the US in an offender management programme and how this initiative’s systems could be adapted to speed and refine links between OEMs, suppliers and logistics providers.

A logistics executive made a presentation about ‘Digital Revolution at Point of Sale (POS)’, showing examples of how using a standard small plastic pallet to mount products throughout their lifecycle - from pickup at the plant to point of sale, could stimulate product visibility and sales. The idea of ‘pairing’ the pallet and the goods, is really quite a revolutionary notion and again, IT is central to its implementation.

Indeed, every part of the event’s discussions touched upon IT; in driver shortages, advances in platooning, again powered by increasingly sophisticated software and hardware, were seen by some of the panel members as a partial answer to extending driver hours; time spent in an automated platoon could be time added to the regulatory hours that drivers are allowed to be behind the wheel.

The philosophy imbued by the character of IT advances was also seen as hopefully implementing a healthy change to business practices; ‘open sourcing’ of software will enable the sharing of new systems and ideas without compromising the exclusivity of OEMs’ and suppliers’ core competences.

One of the panel members, a major tier supplier executive summed this up when he spoke of how one supplier should not compete with another in its digitalisation strategies; unity and cooperation were key to harnessing the power of IT for the benefit of all players in the supply chain.

Alex K

Simon Duval Smith

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