Insight from Smart Factory Expo 2021

Last week saw over 2000 people attend, 130 companies exhibit and 125 people present at Digital Manufacturing Week’s Smart Factory Expo in Liverpool.

SupplyVue was both an exhibitor on the formidable innovation alley and a presenter on one of the thought-provoking topics across the 2 days.

The overwhelming impression I had of the 2 days was of the huge opportunity for UK manufacturing if we capitalise on the key themes I took away:

Strong interest in sustainability

People were responding more passionately and emotionally to our CarbonVue product enhancement of the SupplyVue digital twin, versus other strategic objectives such as reducing inventory levels etc. Is the sustainability agenda finally putting the much-needed drive behind improving resource inefficiency that exists within all of our supply chains? If yes, then I think we will see a huge step change in UK productivity that will give our manufacturing industries a competitive boost because, as shared in my presentation during the conference, we can definitely improve sustainability and productivity through synchronising supply networks.

Frustration with the current

Frustration with current ERP systems/ lack of cohesion across supply chain systems seemed to really resonate with the people.  Although the term digital twin was either not well understood or had turned people off with it’s over use, the concept of having a solution that can quickly and easily (and relatively cheaply) sit across any current IT landscape and gives the visibility, insight and modelling capability to synchronise end to end supply chains (potentially way beyond tier 1 suppliers) was exciting to people once there was an appreciation of what this actually meant.

Recognition of the increasing innovation within Tech

Those attending the conference went in wanting to see what new tools were available to them and they were not short changed. Innovation Alley was a great place for us to be situated; exhibiting alongside world class innovators and entrepreneurs, exciting the audience with their cutting-edge technology. As a tech provider ourselves, our eyes were also opened to the opportunity to collaborate with other solution providers to enhance our impact further.

Desire to move forward across many groups

The groups attending the conference could be categorised into 3: Manufacturers, Institutions and Tech providers. One of the most exciting opportunities I believe from the conference was the desire to collaborate and align activity to bring about change more quickly. This theme of collaboration was also reinforced by Manufacturers as they talked of a shift in increasing cross-department collaboration within companies; It was great to hear Supply Chain talk proudly that they had a great working relationship with IT. This theme of collaboration absolutely extended to the interaction to both the Tech providers that we met at the conference and the “institutions” which included groups such as universities and government organisations. Other small tech companies are really interested in collaboration.  Everyone sees the future of supply chain as something that will be digital, and can see the benefits of different tech being able to work harmoniously/ leveraging each other’s expertise to create highly effective technology systems. Similarly for Institutions, they see the direction supply chain is heading in and want to help accelerate this.

So in summary, what an inspirational couple of days. If we can act on the frustration and need for change, the technology is there for us to unlock considerable value and deliver our sustainability agenda in our supply chains.


Synchronise for Success