Manufacturing equipment is getting smarter. Machines, devices, sensors, RadioFrequency
Identification (RFID) tags, robots and automation controllers are now being
connected together with the latest network technologies. Recent breakthroughs
enable new levels of collaboration, allowing virtually any device or manufacturing
resource to be more location-, context- and environment-aware to respond faster to
change. The “smart factory” of the future promises to achieve a whole new level of
efficiency and agility that was not previously thought possible.
This set of technologies is now referred to as the Industrial Internet of Things
(IIoT), a subset of the Internet of Things (IoT). A transformation is underway that is
changing how goods are produced and services are managed in the industrial world.
The outcome is predicted to be nothing short of revolutionary. While there is much
information overflowing public media with regards to new technologies, not much
has been presented on the mechanism of business process transformation being
The mechanism of “Pull” processes—those triggered by an actual event instead
of a forecast—is nothing new. It is at the heart of many successful manufacturing
strategies, including Make-to-Order (MTO) and Just-in-Time (JIT) operational models.
John Hagel III, John Seely Brown, and Lang Davison wrote The Power of Pull, a book
that refers to the ability to draw out people and resources as needed so as to best
address opportunities and challenges without sole reliance on a plan or forecast.
Recent technological advances in digitization, including the harnessing of Big Data
analytics, the use of the cloud, Business Process Management (BPM), social media,
IIoT, and mobility, have extended the power of Pull beyond Lean manufacturing.
By systematically directing people and resources to focus on a confirmed demand
versus a forecast, Pull processes can further minimize waste from forecast error
while increasing responsiveness to unpredictable events. New opportunities are
now unfolding, such as Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS), where manufacturing
capacity is sold as a utility that is charged based on actual demand consumption.
This is a step further than replenishment of inventory based on actual consumption
of material. By the same token, 3D printing can perform similarly by reducing
manufacturing lead time and enabling products to be made and delivered according
to a specific design that has been confirmed virtually.
In light of these new developments, this white paper will focus on the mechanism
of business transformation enabled by these technologies, which can be attributed
to two major forces: the power of Pull and digitization. Nine practical applications
are detailed, showing how innovative manufacturers can better leverage digital
technologies to achieve new levels of operational excellence. Dassault Systèmes calls
the synergized effect of these forces “Smart Pull.”