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Bottlenecks Keeping Manufacturing And Supply Chains from Going Digital

March 15, 2016
I know that the faster we get supply chains and full-value chains to go digital, the quicker we can cut a ton of inefficiencies that aren't just costly, but are also harmful to the environment.

If you are a manufacturer, a solution provider, or are a retailer or buyer in any part of the value chain of a product, component, or material -- please take this 8 question quick poll so that we can start identifying the bottlenecks and removing them.

The quicker we remove bottlenecks, the quicker businesses will find savings while removing excess waste in our value chains and our global environment.

Warning: This is a request from a millennial engineer to get answers to common questions about what's keeping manufacturers and companies in supply chains from going digital. This is written off the cuff, and while it might seem like I think the world is puppies and ponies, I do understand it takes resources and money to go digital -- but I'd like to understand how we can speed this process up.


If you know me, you may know that I love manufacturing. I'm a nerdy social engineer and systems advocate.

I love the people in manufacturing, I love designing new products and processes, and I love how everything that comes from manufacturing touches lives, economies, and environments around the world in some way or another.

But, I know (and you know) the faster we get supply chains and full value chains to go digital, the quicker we can cut a ton of inefficiencies that aren't just costly, but are also harmful to the environment.

All the case studies are there, especially in the RFID world. The scale is seductive -- save one minute in a system and you're talking a savings of thousands of dollars or pounds upon pounds of saved paper.


What's exciting about manufacturing is we now live in a world where we can truly make anything -- 3D printing, hybrid manufacturing, etc. We are completely boundless! And, we could potentially know everything about the value chain of what we are producing thanks to Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) -- from source of material through production through sales and disposal. These digital threads will help us save time, money, resources, and spot a host of environmental savings.

But it's also profitable to go digital. report from McKinsey & Co. says 80-100% of manufacturers will be leveraging IIoT in both discrete and process manufacturing by 2025 to the tune of $2.3 trillion dollars per year in productivity and other savings. THAT'S COLD HARD CASH IN SAVINGS...SO WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?


  • All of the technologies are readily available, it's just a matter of implementing them.  Manufacturers and small businesses are infamously slow to adopt new me, I've worked in enough facilities to feel the need for BYOD. I've outlined in the poll a list of some per-determined bottlenecks that I think might be part of the problem.


  • COOLNESS FACTOR: The sooner we get chains (supply and value) digitized,  the sooner manufacturing will be transparent enough to show everyday people just how connected they personally are to manufacturing with each and every product they use, buy, or sell.  I think this transparency will actually make manufacturing cool one day which would be really helpful for me so that I can talk to my friends on a Friday night over drinks about supply chains and designing from cradle to cradle.
  • INVENTORY OVERLOAD: There is an obscene amount of inventory floating around this earth. We could save TRILLIONS!
    • A shocking amount of capital is tied up in inventory. Inventory along with accounts receivable and accounts payable has tied up $1.1 trillion in cash – equivalent to 7% of the U.S. GDP. (Source: REL)
    • The number of companies without a robust inventory management system in place is shocking. 46% of SMBs either don’t track inventory or use a manual method. (Source: Wasp Barcode)

Got any other ideas, theories, or rants on how to shimmy value chains into becoming digital threads of information? 

Leave your comments below and in the poll. You can see results from others as soon as you fill out the poll.

Oh yeah, one more thing....a group of ladies and myself launched a crowdfunding campaign to fix problems in ways to raise the quality of life for all. Support would be greatly appreciated -- it's for men and women!

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