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Manufacturing Platforms and the Connected Factories of the Future


Friday January 4, 2019

The top supply chain trends predicted for 2019 seem to be starting right where they left off in 2018, with industry 4.0, the internet of things, digital models and simulations, data analytics, and digital manufacturing transformation leading us into the New Year. The digital factory boom that many industry experts are predicting — which will be built upon advanced supply chain planning, monitoring, optimization, control and integration — will undoubtedly hinge on smart manufacturing platforms.

In fact, according to the Forbes article “Why 2019 Will Be The Year Of The Manufacturing Platform,” these tools will be a driving force because they “rewrite the rules of production and product development.”

ABI Research defines a manufacturing platform as “any piece of software that fills a role in application enablement in an industrial environment. Manufacturers need this software to connect devices, extract data from their equipment, process it, store it, and deliver it to finished applications.”

Manufacturing platforms facilitate interactions among key stakeholder groups. Their true value often comes from their size: the more users, the more connections and the more features available.

One of the most interesting aspects of the rise of platforms may be their ability to create new opportunities for local manufacturing. As author Michael Mandal explains, manufacturing platforms are the logical outgrowth of existing trends toward outsourcing and factory-less production. Moreover, they are carrying those processes “to the next level.”

He offers three reasons for this: First, scalability is enhanced because of automated assessments that determine if a part can be manufactured, the process required and the projected price — think of this like a manufacturability algorithm.

Second, manufacturing platforms can increase the efficiency of the product design process because, in the same way, engineers receive immediate feedback on both feasibility and cost.

“Third, and perhaps most important,” Mandal writes, “an entrepreneur opening up a new factory in Illinois, for example, can now potentially tap into global demand through the manufacturing platforms.”

It’s also worth noting that manufacturing platforms can simplify things for consumers. People could use them to customize their purchases, sending orders directly to the factory. As a bonus, this offers considerably more variety for consumers while reducing waste.

Corporate transformation

The world of supply chain is one of constant change. As the rate of technological advances such as manufacturing platforms continues to accelerate, the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM) is here to help you stay ahead of the curve.

As we continue the launch of this brand new association, identifying the essential supply chain thought leadership and resources you need to keep pace is of chief importance. ASCM is your unbiased partner, providing you with a collaborator you can count on to help build your roadmap to supply chain excellence. Our global standards and expertise — including corporate programs to accelerate transformation, performance-driven talent development and the new SCOR-Enterprise designation for organizations — will help your supply chain stay competitive in 2019 and beyond.

Learn more at And stay tuned for more products, services and resources to help you and your organization gain competitive advantage through leading-edge supply chain management.