Searching for the best ways to improve efficiency, safety and streamline operations is always on the mind of IMPO’s readers. However, keeping up with what’s happening in the smart operations industry can be a challenge, that’s why we look to the experts. IMPO recently did a Q&A with Charlie Chung, Senior Marketing Manager at UPS’s Industrial Segment, to discuss industry trends and how technologies have changed over the years.
IMPO: What are some trends you’ve seen emerging over the last six months in smart operations?
Chung: One of the biggest changes is the acceleration of non-traditional production processes like additive manufacturing (also known as 3D printing or on-demand manufacturing). On-demand digital manufacturing is enabled by faster equipment and better integration into operational strategies to realize the promise of just-in-time printing to meet customer demand.
IMPO: What are some things companies should take into consideration when looking to implement smart manufacturing?
Chung: Find partners who are already successful working with multiple clients and have the ability to incorporate the latest technologies and capabilities. Individual companies don’t need to make the same capital and human resource investments to achieve their goals.
IMPO: Are smart operations appropriate for companies of all sizes? Why or why not?
Chung: Yes, efficiencies of partnering with the right third parties can be even more appropriate for small and medium-sized businesses. This enables more effective prioritization of resources in their operations rather than duplicative capital and human resource investments to build on your own.
IMPO: How have you seen acceptance of IoT and other smart operations technologies change over the last five years?
Chung: Every year brings unanticipated applications and solutions to the market. One example is how we are helping companies with field technicians more efficiently distribute spare parts through our UPS Access Point network, a network of alternative delivery locations. Traditionally this had been seen as a residential or consumer benefit to pick up online shopping orders. Now businesses are taking advantage of these convenient locations by having their field technicians pick up only the parts they need for repair orders en-route to their service stops on that day. This minimizes duplicate inventory in distribution centers as well as in the rolling “trunk stock” in every technician’s truck. That enables your field technicians to increase service calls, grow revenue, improve productivity and enhance customer service.