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Supply Chain 4.0 – The Digital Era

By Professor Richard Wilding OBE


There is a revolution taking place. Enabled by leveraging technologies and concepts from Industry 4.0, the 4th Industrial revolution. Within the supply chain we call this Supply Chain 4.0.

There are 9 building blocks to Supply Chain 4.0:

  1. System Integration
  2. Big Data and Analytics
  3. Simulation and Virtualization
  4. Internet of Things (IoT)
  5. The Cloud
  6. Cybersecurity
  7. Autonomous Systems
  8. Augmented Reality
  9. Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing

Where revolution is really taking place within the supply chain is how these combine. For example, a warehouse my use augmented reality vision picking, where operators use “google glasses” type technology to see and read bar codes, they may be supported by autonomous automated trolleys that follow them around, big data analytics is used to improve and predict the operations. All combining to revolutionise environment.

So, understand those building blocks and start building Supply Chain 4.0 systems that
improve value for customers and drive down you costs.



Our work in this area at Cranfield is one of the areas explored within the Supply Chain Management Programme  - one of our specialist programmes designed to develop appropriate skills for next generation professionals in these fields.

Blog produced by:  Professor Richard Wilding OBE, Professor of Supply Chain Strategy and Programme Director of the Supply Chain Management Programme, Cranfield School of Management for this blog content.


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