However, the possibility to maintain synchronization between a product/person and its digital copy is relying on a pervasive infrastructure where sensors are integrated within machines or people (e.g. smart watch, mobile). These sensors are part of the industrial Internet of Things platform, an enabling technology of Industry 4.0.
By leveraging many other technological trends such as 3D printing, Big Data Analytics, Cloud/Edge Computing, Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Mobile Computing and Simulators, we can:
1) test at risk free any system before going live and
2) keep aware of any situation while machines are running to predict maintenance and avoid breakdowns.
This first key directive is enabled through a Digital Transformation strategy.
Besides, any smart manufacture is currently deploying Digital Twin project(s). It is a concept that has been continuously named within Gartner’s top 10 strategic technology trends for the past couple of years. First mentioned in 2002 by the University of Michigan in the context of Product Lifecycle Management, this terminology had been evolved with time to 3S / Sensors, Softwares and Services but the concept is still the same till now. So, what is beyond supply chain 4.0, is the Digital Twin ecosystem where any physical thing/person/process has a near real-time copy (its digital twin) to expose useful information for fast and predictive decisions. This model ameliorates the development of products as they become smart so that producers and consumers remain always in contact. The product life cycle management is faster and permits to run tests and simulations at risk free with secure environment before going live in order to find all answers that were difficult to infer from mock-ups. This second key directive can guarantee fast and better decision-making at 360 degrees because it helps supply chain officers in the monitoring/optimization of their business performance and Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). For example, General Electric and Tesla are leveraging Digital Twin model by being in contact everyday with their consumers thus to refine the product continuously in real mode based on such information. In consequence, the third important key directive is to include end consumers in the loop (Customer Engagement).
The Digital Personalization concept has been analyzed by Gartner to emphasize on the fact that data-driven supply chains are more powerful if all players are cooperating to build trust with their end consumers. By offering them not only customized but also micro-personalized services based on their digital behavior analysis, personal data history, interests and passion, just to name few, consumers will be more satisfied and loyal to the brand (Brand Sustainability), after feeling more supported, differentiated and targeted as per their real needs. Of course, regulations agencies, government and legal institutions had to intervene for guaranteeing a context of privacy and trust ownership without blocking such evolution. The first steps are already done such as adopting the Open Data framework and others will follow for an end to end transparency.
Stay tuned for more trendy scenarios that can disrupt global supply chains.