There often seems to be a disconnect between the people that sell or market a product and the supply chain that produces it. The truth is the sellers of products are far more dependent on the supply chain than they may understand.
This means it is important for individuals in sales and marketing to understand advances being made on the supply side and how that may soon affect their own industries.
Here are 5 ways industry 4.0 is poised to revolutionize sales.
1. Smaller runs on-demand
Anticipating demand remains one of the great difficulties for any business. In the past, gearing up assembly lines to produce a specific product has been both time-consuming and costly, which means the larger the order you place, the more the price goes down.
Conversely, once you buy the product from the manufacturer, you have to at least sell a certain amount of the product to recoup your investment and even more to make a profit. A failure to do so results in a loss.
With industry 4.0, machined assembly lines can be programmed to perform a wide variety of tasks on various products. This means a small batch of one product can be run and then the machine simply switched over to the next with very minimal time between runs.
2. Lowered storage costs and better flexibility
The more product a business is forced to store and the longer they have to store it, the higher the cost. In addition, most business will experience the frustration of having an overstock of one product that no one seems to want, while quickly selling out of a product with an unexpectedly high demand.
With the ability of manufacturers to offer smaller runs at a reduced cost, this cuts down on the amount of product a business needs to store and prevents overstock of a sluggish product.
In addition, the ability to run smaller batches of a product gives businesses greater opportunities to test the market for new products. This can help them keep their product lines fresh without having to invest heavily. If it proves to be a huge hit, they can order more. If it doesn’t, they also don’t take a huge loss.
3. More efficient performance leads to more stable supply
Humans suffer a wide variety of issues and ailments that affect their performance from day to day. These issues are not always noticeable but can significantly slow down production.
If a factory worker is feeling under the weather, their pace may be slower than usual or they may miss critical details. The factory may experience decreased production that day with no idea as to why or parts may go out that should have been flagged.
Machines, on the other hand only experience mechanical issues, which can be directly reported by the machine itself. This means that if there is a slow-down or halt in production in any way, not only can the appropriate supervisors and personnel be notified, but even the customers expecting delivery on a product.
A slow down in production can cause late delivery weeks down the road. This means that with industry 4.0 businesses can be notified of impending late shipment weeks in advance.
4. Better communication throughout the entire supply chain
Almost all products are made from various components sourced from various places. The factory that assembles cars or computers or even stuffed animals gets all of the many pieces and parts from another factory that also has to source all the raw materials from someone else.
Industry 4.0 ensures better communication throughout the entire chain. When there is an issue with the machines that are mining iron ore, the entire chain can be notified at once. This includes the steel mills waiting on shipments, the manufacturers waiting on supplies of steel that make parts from them, the factories that take those parts and use them to make salable goods and the businesses that take those goods and sell them.
5. Lowered costs
The cost of any good is determined by a wide variety of factors. The price of a finished product is also largely dependent on the price of all the many pieces, parts and materials that went into making it.
These costs often involve extreme variables such as lawsuits and medical expenses for serious industrial accidents. In addition, manufacturing is largely a dangerous business from start to finish.
Not only do humans cause costly delays, but they often put their very lives at risk in service to production. No matter how expensive it may be to fix a machine, it is almost invariably less expensive than major medical costs or extravagant legal fees. While some of these issues will still remain even in an automated system, they will be significantly reduced, which leads to lowered costs across the board.
Sales and marketing will always have an easier time selling high-quality goods at a lower cost than low-quality goods at an exorbitant cost.
Automation doesn’t take away jobs from humans. It just frees up human labor to perform more creative tasks and to do it in a far safer environment. While machines may be doing more and more of the work of assembling cars, it took human ingenuity to create seat belts, automatic braking systems, airbags and voice-activated calling. Work that might not have been done if humans were busy simply assembling all the pieces and parts.
This article was contributed by Eric Gordon.