Recently my colleague Chet Namboodri in his blog “Predictions 2014: Wager on the Internet of Everything” did a great level set on predictions for 2014 Manufacturing trends.  I want to add some additional comments on what I have been observing in the field and with our customers today.

The first IDC prediction described 3D value chains as an incredible source of rich productivity and we are seeing this as a goal of many companies.  Not only is it the collection of this data, but it is the sharing of this data across the value chain that is going to start to explode.  What this is starting to mean is that a component assembly company wants to have supply chain information from their manufacturing partners.  This is expanding beyond the dock, into the warehouse and even into the manufacturing lines and cells as well.  This tightly aligns with what we are seeing with customers already getting access to this information from their shop floor.

Take a look at this recent demo that John Chambers and Jim Grubb did for an example of the traceability and sophistication that a robust network can bring and how problem resolution can be much faster with real-time visibility.

The visibility has been happening from an internal standpoint – from the shop floor to the top floor – where the C-suite has been asking for this information.  To date this information is not shared outside the company, but that is starting to change.

Better Information, Faster

An example would be where a person that is making screws for another company has a line outage, the component assembler needs to know about this issue as soon as possible so that they can adjust their assembly lines to what may be a potential stock shortage.  The earlier that a company is aware of this possibility the faster they can react to the changes with either alternate suppliers (if possible) or start to change their delivery times as well.

We are seeing this information that is now starting to be shared in a cloud environment with multi-tenant hosting and security designed from day one to ensure integrity of the information.  This is similar to the 90’s when EDI was the hot buzz, but the issue then was that each company had different EDI formats and content, so it became incredibly difficult to implement and almost impossible if you had to deal with multiple vendors and end users.  Trust me, I worked on a project that was supplying to 3 auto manufacturers and a large BBQ grill manufacturer that all had different formats and different styles, though they were all using EDI!

This is also going to be a base to driving better resiliency across the supply chains and into value chains as the information becomes ‘at your fingertips’.  It is not enough to just have the information, but also how to react to the information and this is where the collaboration across the value chain on this information will be easier and faster to react to.  We are working on not just outlining the information that the users have, but also how the users can react to this information with guided workflows or possible workflow scenarios to help drive to resolution.

Most companies know of issues (I would say all) but they have problems with driving towards issue resolution.  By using technology, such as collaboration products, supply chain agility solutions and Cisco’s Remote Expert capabilities we can find out the correct person to help solve the issue and get back up and running as quickly as possible.

What are some of the ways you see 3D value chains impacting your manufacturing?  We would love to hear from your real-life examples and insights.  Look for more to come on this from our Cisco Manufacturing subject matter experts.  Thanks for reading.


Douglas Bellin

Global Lead, Industries

Manufacturing and Energy