1. Is the fourth industrial revolution already under way?

Absolutely, many of our customers have embraced new, digitally enabled manufacturing technologies with considerable success. That’s happening right across the engineering and manufacturing sector, even in long-established businesses operating in quite traditional industries. Right now, however, it’s clear that different companies are pursuing different approaches and developing at different rates.

2. What will the rise of digital manufacturing mean for supply chain and logistics processes?

We expect digitalization to accelerate many of the trends that we are already seeing across the industry. As big manufacturers increase the flexibility and responsiveness of their own operations, they’ll need their suppliers to do the same. If the whole supply chain doesn’t develop at the same rate, you start to get problems. We’ve already seen signs of that happening in the U.S., for example, where some major manufacturers say that their suppliers are struggling to keep up with rapidly rising demand.

3. How will the role of service providers like DHL evolve as manufacturing becomes more digital?

As a service provider, we can support the needs of future manufacturing supply chains by enabling the fast, flexible logistics processes companies will require. And I also see a role for providers like us in helping to manage rising supply chain complexity, whether that’s by consolidating shipments from multiple suppliers or helping our customers manage supply chain data more effectively.

Published: January 2019

Images: DHL