Collaboration, execution essential for best practices in a VUCA World | Manufacturing Asia

Collaboration, execution essential for best practices in a VUCA World

Ever-changing consumer expectations have highlighted the importance of a “digital supply network” and data-driven best practices.

Companies are now faced with various challenges in the VUCA (volatile, unpredictable, complex, and ambiguous) world, all whilst dealing with changing consumer expectations. 

Working on transformations can require companies to deal with all kinds of stakeholders, from the Wall Street segment to those working within the organisation. It can be a challenge for companies to be optimistic, given the need to constantly adapt amidst the changing environment. Though the term "VUCA" may come with a little bit of fear and negativity, there are many opportunities and positive concepts to be explored.

During the roundtable discussion “Smart Manufacturing: Redefining the Best Practices in a VUCA World,” held last February 22, business leaders discussed ways to create resilient and sustainable supply chains as well as collaborate to move towards sustainable goals.

The early ways of doing supply chain management have often been about dealing with individual enterprises. However, Terence Foo, Supply Chain and Network Operations Leader at Deloitte Consulting Southeast Asia, suggested building on this existing view of the supply chain. For him, the future of the supply chain could be a more collaborative “cross-enterprise” where various companies and industry players work together.

Foo recognised that the linear physical supply chain can be improved upon through digitalisation and using data across the “digital supply network.” With the said network, companies can give back to customers and their supply chain practitioners. Foo said: “It's going to be a whole network of different players, like here, working together, because it's much bigger than what our own company can do.”

Foo noted that customer service and manufacturing can be boosted if the digital supply network begins sharing data for the benefit of everyone, whilst also ensuring that information remains proprietary. If fulfilled, the effort could not only raise individual companies but the whole ecosystem.

Given the crises and inflation that the world is facing today, companies can start improving on this collaboration by looking at suppliers as “friends,” so they can start building stronger relationships and eventually get them on board with the journey towards the digital supply network.

Sunil Wahi, Oracle Vice President and Head of Applications Solution Engineering for Asia Pacific & Japan, highlighted that companies must aim to execute effective plans to adapt to the digital industry. He explained that to do this, companies must work with data and gain operational insights. They must also deliberate on decisions by considering supply planning, demand forecasts, and profitability, amongst others. Lastly, companies can close the loop of the manufacturing process through synchronised planning, which is implemented based on the data they collected and the choices they had to consider in addressing any gaps.

Impressively, Wahi stressed that companies do not need to follow a step-by-step approach to these principles, as long as they work based on their individual needs.

On the other hand, when asked how manufacturers can establish resilient and sustainable supply chains amidst disruptions, industry leaders emphasised agility and data-driven insights.

“Keep thinking of simulation, challenging yourselves about the what-if scenarios, the worst case and always prepare for what could go wrong. Because agility is what's going to make the difference between a good supply chain and a bad supply chain,” said Foo.

In order to accelerate innovation, enhance quality, and improve productivity through smart manufacturing, predictive maintenance would also be helpful to manufacturers. This allows companies to have a better sourcing plan, especially for equipment that are constantly failing.

Amidst the demand for more sustainable practices, smart manufacturing can also be considered for planning and tracking environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives.

It can be noted that various companies already have good quality control systems and applications implemented to loop back into research and development, as well as product improvements. It is important for company leaders to understand their “mission” so they can efficiently use it to address the needs of their own supply chain and become sustainable.

In addition to efficient supply chains, companies must also consider a “holistic view.” They must look beyond manufacturing and instead look at equity models within the human space. This is because ESG is not just about the supply chain but also the human experience.

Amidst this age of disruption in the VUCA world, companies can either be “disrupters” or “doctors of change,” but adoption of the new world of digital collaboration and sustainability can create a better manufacturing environment.

Whilst everyone is at different stages in making changes—with some working on execution and others still discussing profit—every company's journey could still be the same. They must continue to learn from forums, come together, and collaborate in order to replicate their successful journeys.

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