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A Lesson For The Vaccine Industry From The Future Of Flexible Manufacturing

A Lesson For The Vaccine Industry From The Future Of Flexible Manufacturing

Manufacturing has historically been a laggard in the adoption of digital technologies and even the idea of digital transformation. In 2018 the percent of manufacturing corporations successfully transforming was less than the 28% average for companies in other industries (15%). Revathi Advaithi is the CEO of Flex was named one of Fortune’s Most Powerful Women in Business for two consecutive years (2020, 2019) and one of Business Today’s Most Powerful Women in India (2020).

Covid-19 has shown us how tough it is to get products manufactured in one place and then distributed globally. The ability to ramp up and ramp down across normal conditions. Doing this in the middle of a pandemic for everything becomes exponentially tougher. While vaccines sit at one end of this process microprocessors, even coffee machines sit at the other when people can no longer come and work in a factory.

These stochastic moments are nearly impossible to predict and the idea of a completely connected supply chain is going to have to be a reality for the near future as an act of preservation for companies and for national security reasons.

By 2030 Revathi believes that we will see a manufacturing sector. Re-tasking is instant and factory workers are seen as information workers where in early morning calls they re-design sessions for teams based on live data feeds. Robots roam the floors as co-pilot partners bringing inventory if and when needed and everything is simulated through digital twins in near real-time.

Three factors for this new world of manufacturing by 2030 will need to or do already exist:

·      Defense protection of resources becomes a global imperative for governments looking to protect their national supply chains

·      Robotic automation will make it easy to do many things in one place at scale. As sensors get smaller and cheaper this will happen far faster than ever before. Currently, The ratio of machines to human workers in the USA is 10,000 machines for every 180 human jobs, In China for every 10,000 machines, there are 60 -70 jobs. Automation will be a huge investment for competitive advantage.

·      The ability to integrate culture and learnings across global operations gives the ability to deliver locally by using the IP and ongoing learnings from highly connected systems. Size, agility, and knowledge will work together to produce a new dynamic approach that is local and global in nature.

The traditional view has been that machines will take over and people will have to radically retrain. Revathi’s view is that manufacturing personnel will have a heightened value as experts in their production arenas that smart manufacturing companies will leverage with AI, digital feedback loops, and the idea of co-robots. As the idea of recycling becomes more common, the idea of longer product lifecycles and extended services for them will also attract historical manufacturing workers to repair, service, and re-build products. From coffee pots to larger machines. This is the circular economy in practice.

Flex delivers technology innovation, supply chain, and manufacturing solutions to diverse industries and end markets. Revathi has more than 25 years of leadership experience with deep expertise in procurement, supply chain, sourcing, and manufacturing.

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