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"Supply chain visibility and real time collaboration continues to drive business value for value chain players"

By Nisha Shukla,

Added 25 August 2023

Rajesh Parameswaran, Executive Director & Industrial Sector Leader - India/South Asia, IBM Consulting, delves into the promising realm of digital transformation in manufacturing. He shares how digital manufacturing technologies are revolutionising supply chain management and the ways in which IBM stays aligned with industry trends, while catering to diverse client needs.

What are the opportunities associated with digital transformation in manufacturing? How can manufacturers make the most of it?

Digital transformation trickles down data led tactical decision making down the hierarchy giving more time to supervisors and plant heads to drive strategic change. Also, workforce shortage on shopfloor during pandemic and ageing manufacturing employee base has re-emphasised the need for human agnostic and autonomous processes.

Digital transformation offers benefits that align on two different fronts: On one hand, manufacturers can drive ongoing operational improvements, including increasing production throughput, improving asset utilisation, and enhancing product quality. On the other hand, they also have an opportunity to create greater customer value by revolutionising manufacturing capabilities, delivering design improvements, and optimising service.

Having said that, there's no one size fits all. Manufacturers need to take an extremely objective view of the business value they want to drive with digital transformation in an age of rapid disruptive technology changes.

How digital manufacturing technologies are enhancing supply chain management for your customers?

The pandemic caused a major supply chain disruption primarily for manufacturers dependent on partners across countries and continents. Supply chain visibility and real time collaboration continues to drive significant business value for value chain players. A digital supply chain is data driven and digitally executed to create transparency, support advanced planning, predict demand patterns, and leverage asset availability. It's predicated on real-time access to data across an enterprise and its collaboration partners, and on the use of advanced technologies. It integrates suppliers, manufacturers, and customers to help create an end-to-end view.

For instance, automotive OEMs are getting to use traceability across the supplier network to help ease recall and warranty processes. Food chains were early adopters of provenance use cases to ascertain food quality and assuage ethical sourcing concerns. Further, data driven insights and advanced analytics are enabling scenario planning and forecasting use cases to absorb market uncertainty to some extent.

How do you ensure your technology remains in-sync with the latest industry trends and scalable to accommodate future growth or changes in production requirements?

IBM Consulting has IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) which collaborates with industry professionals, leading-edge clients, academics, and a wide range of IBM consultants and subject matter experts around the world. IBV uses data-driven research and expert analysis to deliver thought-provoking insights to business leaders about emerging trends, opportunities, and challenges. IBV's thought leadership reports offer prescriptive recommendations to address the most pressing industry and marketplace challenges and opportunities that will determine future organisational success. This insight feeds into IBM portfolio for us to stay responsive to market trends.

Do you have a research and development team dedicated to innovation?

IBM Research is one of the largest tech innovation entities that has always been ahead of the curve in expanding the frontiers of innovation. Quantum computing, adoption of 5G into the connected ecosystem of manufacturing, use of generative AI with watsonx platform are areas of focus of ongoing research programs. We are actively working on solving some serious problems mankind has ever faced from sustainability standpoint as well.

How do you determine the cost of your automation solutions? Kindly provide an estimated return on investment (ROI) that clients can expect from your products and services.

Cost of our solutions is driven by value we create for our clients. While the business model may vary on case-by case basis, our fundamentals are strongly rooted in enabling clients achieve their desired outcomes. ROI variates between 1.5 to 3 years depending on organisation's digital maturity and problem at hand.

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