The mechanism of “Pull” processes—those triggered by an actual event instead of a forecast—is nothing new. It is at the heart of many successful manufacturing strategies, including Make-to-Order (MTO) and Just-in-Time (JIT) operational models. Recent technological advances in digitization, including the harnessing of Big Data analytics, the use of the cloud, Business Process Management (BPM), social media, IIoT, and mobility, have extended the power of Pull beyond Lean manufacturing.
By systematically directing people and resources to focus on a confirmed demand versus a forecast, Pull processes can further minimize waste from forecast error while increasing responsiveness to unpredictable events. New opportunities are now unfolding, such as Manufacturing-as-a-Service (MaaS), where manufacturing capacity is sold as a utility that is charged based on actual demand consumption. This is a step further than replenishment of inventory based on actual consumption of material. By the same token, 3D printing can perform similarly by reducing manufacturing lead time and enabling products to be made and delivered according to a specific design that has been confirmed virtually.
In light of these new developments, this white paper will focus on the mechanism of business transformation enabled by these technologies, which can be attributed to two major forces: the power of Pull and digitization. Nine practical applications are detailed, showing how innovative manufacturers can better leverage digital technologies to achieve new levels of operational excellence. Dassault Systèmes calls the synergized effect of these forces “Smart Pull.”