Supply chains must become smarter to meet EV fleet demands

The flexibility provided by AI, analytics and cloud technologies increases supply chain resiliency, which is pivotal to meeting upcoming EV demand. By Tom Leeson

Markets around the world are facing a radical restructuring of how cars, homes and factories are powered due to commitments to cut carbon emissions. In the UK, that takes the dramatic form of a 78% decrease by 2035, almost 15 years earlier than planned.

To achieve one of the most ambitious environmental targets set out to date, British public and private sectors will need to fundamentally overhaul the way resources are consumed. Transportation is no exception. In 2020, the British government announced plans to further accelerate towards a greener transport future by phasing out the sale of new gasoline and diesel cars by 2030. To support this transition, £1.3bn (US$1.8bn) was allocated for the roll-out of charge points and charging stations in homes, on streets and along motorways, with the view that EVs will quickly become the norm.

Just as the production process benefits from smart use of data and technology, manufacturers must also look to digital innovation to build more resilient and adaptive supply chains

Creating adaptive supply chains with digital technology

The transition to electric mobility requires changes in the manufacturing sector. Vehicle manufacturing in particular is being strongly influenced by digital innovation within the production process, including greater use of AI, cloud, Big Data and IoT technology. Just as the production process benefits from smart use of data and technology, manufacturers must also look to digital innovation to build more resilient and adaptive supply chains.

As automotive manufacturers have expanded their production facilities, they have created new and complex digital ecosystems. Supply chains are increasingly connecting not only suppliers, but also customers, third party logistics companies and other value chain partners. However, this increase in size and complexity created structural weaknesses within global supply chains that the COVID-19 pandemic quickly exposed.

Fostering resilience in automotive supply chains of the future

To remain resilient, information must flow freely yet securely in many directions within an organisation. Cloud technology plays a vital role here, enabling flexibility by keeping channels of information open and accessible across organisational and geographical borders. Moving data from on-premise storage to cloud-based storage, for example, will ensure that all business information is globally accessible for staff, partners, suppliers and relevant third parties.

The flexibility provided by cloud technologies increases resiliency, setting automotive manufacturers up to navigate supply chain disruption successfully in order to continue producing EVs to meet growing market demand

Implementing cloud and IoT technology to connect all production stages and functional areas across the organisation allows stakeholders to collaborate across the entire ecosystem. It also provides a secure way to exchange design and production information between operating plants and network partners. Ultimately, the flexibility provided by cloud technologies increases resiliency, setting automotive manufacturers up to navigate supply chain disruption successfully in order to continue producing EVs to meet growing market demand.

While the cloud represents an integrated digital backbone to create more adaptive and efficient supply chains, automotive manufacturers should also embed AI and analytics to enable faster, more effective decision making. This technology will be vital for automotive manufacturers as they look to better balance operations and production to meet customer demand for EVs.

A radical restructuring of how we travel—not only in the UK but around the whole world—is key to meeting our ambitious targets to cut carbon emissions. Ultimately, automotive manufacturers need to make the most of digital technologies—particularly cloud, AI and analytics—if they are to build the adaptive supply chains required to meet this fundamental shift in transportation.


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Automotive World Ltd.

Tom Leeson is Senior Industry Marketing Strategist, Manufacturing Sector, at OpenText

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