The digital supply chain

By Klaus Dohrmann, Vice President Strategy and Development for the Engineering & Manufacturing (E&M) sector, Customer Solutions & Innovation, DHL.

DHL digitalization Klaus Dohrmann supply chain

Klaus Dohrmann

There is no question that engineering and manufacturing (E&M) businesses are increasingly challenged by new, ever-changing customer requirements. To secure loyalty, retain market share, and remain competitive, companies must adapt and implement new processes – E&M businesses must evolve with the times and keep up with the technological advances that are already being rolled out across other industries.


Manufacturing may not have the reputation of consumer-facing industries for glamorous innovation. But, since the first industrial revolution, it has led the way in implementing new technologies that significantly advance the industry. Today, more and more manufacturers are examining the potential of digitalization for their organization. In the context of rapidly improving technology, plus the need to stay ahead of the curve, bolder moves are likely from manufacturing businesses to ensure continued, long-term success.


Change can be difficult but is certainly beneficial. From artificial intelligence (AI) to big data analytics, new technology offers many ways to transform business models and build competitive edge. By embracing these opportunities, E&M companies can become more customer-focused, ultimately improving the bottom line and driving industry growth.


The Internet of Things is fast becoming reality in manufacturing and, combined with sophisticated real-time analytics, companies can utilize ever-increasing volumes of big data, anytime and from anywhere. Mining this data and effectively applying it enables deeper traceability – all the way down to item level – at each stage of the E&M supply chain. This is critical for collaboration, better planning, improved efficiency, and shorter response times, driving better business and meeting customer demand.


Digitalization enables operational efficiency and enhances the customer experience – both can profoundly impact overall business performance as well as customer satisfaction and loyalty. Customers are demanding more from manufacturers, especially greater transparency and faster response, and the most effective solution is to utilize digital tools and establish highly integrated supply chains, connected end-to-end and in real time.


There are many examples of effective digitalization in engineering and manufacturing today. Elevators can track their own usage in real time and, by analyzing this information, companies can predict maintenance requirements and schedule a service or repair in advance, avoiding downtime and keeping performance levels high. And aircrafts fitted with RFID-enhanced life jackets, eliminate the need for time-consuming manual checks – this technology confirms at the click of a button when a jacket meets the necessary regulatory standards.


Every business in E&M industries need to jump on board this exciting journey or risk losing out to their competition. Early adopters are already reaping the rewards, and profound progress towards Industry 4.0 will be achieved with sector-wide collaboration. The power is in your hands.