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  • Thorsten Wuest on Transforming Digital Supply Networks

    October 10, 2020
  • Dr. Thorsten Wuest, Assistant Professor and J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellow in Engineering at West Virginia University, discusses the transformation of supply chain networks with a mindful balance of human and digital elements.

    Hosted by Jeff Kavanaugh, VP and Head of the Infosys Knowledge Institute.

    “We can automate more and more cognitive and physical tasks. But I believe we cannot replace this human ingenuity, this human ability to problem solve, to invent, to create. Therefore, I believe, I'm convinced that AI and robots will not take all our jobs in the next few years. Tasks may change, but jobs will remain, and the jobs will be more fulfilling and more humane when we are able to automate the dangerous, repetitive and boring tasks.”

    - Dr. Thorsten Wuest


Show Notes

  • 00:13

    Dr. Thorsten Wuest, in your new book, Digital Supply Networks: Transform Your Supply Chain, and Gain Competitive Advantage with Disruptive Technology and Reimagined Processes, you discuss the reimagination digitalization of complex demand supply systems. Can you share a particularly striking example of this?

  • 01:17

    Jeff introduces Thor

  • 01:54

    Smart engineering and smart manufacturing is a cool sounding term. I think it's gradually become in the vernacular. How did you come to gain expertise in this area, and what made you go this way instead of just broad manufacturing or broad materials?

  • 03:42

    What is it that you've seen in manufacturing that's gone from what it was, which wasn't “dumb” manufacturing, but just manufacturing to maybe smart manufacturing during that time? What has been the one or two biggest things that you've seen changed?

  • 04:35

    You've now had a chance between your beginnings in Germany, your studies in New Zealand, in Asia and your time in the US to get a pretty global perspective on manufacturing. What are some of the things that you've noticed? Some of the aspects that are different between the regions and especially what does that mean for today going forward?

  • 06:04

    You're saying that even in the cold, crass US that thinks about, or the stereotype is this every quarter cadence, there's still some similarities of the long-term thinking like the family-owned, longer-term businesses in Germany?

  • 06:55

    We'll be referring to your new book, which is called Digital Supply Networks published in late August 2020 here, several instances along the way. One of them is you make the distinction between advanced manufacturing and smart manufacturing. Can you highlight the differences?

  • 08:10

    What is the human element in smart manufacturing systems?

  • 09:43

    What do you see, since you mentioned the human element, as different for the people today, the manufacturing worker, as compared to maybe 15 or even 10 years ago?

  • 10:30

    Even so, the moment you add supply chain to your definition of smart manufacturing, then you are enabling, they're enabling the medical supply chain and the health and first responders as well.

  • 11:16

    When the next black or maybe gray swan rears its head, how do we avoid the global supply chain shocks that we've experienced in the aftermath of COVID-19?

  • 12:44

    What are people doing today where they're just not getting [the transition to Industry 4.0] right? What do you see are the two or three things that manufacturing or supply chain leaders can do to overcome them?

  • 14:43

    Can you give an example of a manufacturer you've worked with recently that has taken that step from pilot purgatory to adopt at scale?

  • 16:37

    What is unique about digital supply networks, which happens to be the title of your new book, and how can this help people?

  • 18:01

    Do you think that the supply chain is, on a scale of… one to 10, where do you put the digitization or digitalization of supply networks? If one is all paper-based or smoke signals and 10 is fully digitized. Where do you put the global supply chain?

  • 19:30

    What's the economic case for digital supply networks?

  • 19:41

    Can you share a few hard metrics or interesting benchmarks or rules of thumb that you've come across in smart manufacturing?

  • 20:56

    What should the C-suite, what should business leaders do to drive a transition to digital supply networks?

  • 22:26

    As of the time of this podcast, a couple of months prior, the US Congress passed the Resilient Manufacturing Task Force Act to identify critical vulnerabilities in the supply chain. How will this help supply chain risk in the future and plans to mitigate these risks?

  • 23:42

    If smart manufacturing and digital supply networks provide a superpower ... And you know I had to do this with your first name being Thor ... What is that superpower that you think about that digital supply networks or smart manufacturing provides a business?

  • 42:18

    Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

  • 24:58

    Thor recommends books and on line resources

  • 25:58

    Thor shares his contact details

About Dr. Thorsten Wuest

Dr. Thorsten Wuest

Dr. Thorsten Wuest is an assistant professor and J. Wayne and Kathy Richards Faculty Fellow in Engineering at West Virginia University and globally recognized as one of SME’s 20 most Influential Professors in Smart Manufacturing. His research focuses on Smart Manufacturing Systems, Machine Learning and AI, Hybrid Analytics, Industry 4.0, Servitization and Product Service Systems. He received many awards for his work including Outstanding Teacher of the Year 2019, SME Journal Award, and best review paper award by the International Journal of Automation Technology. Dr. Wuest has given keynote addresses in seven countries, has co-authored three books and more than 130 refereed journal and conference articles gathering more than 2,100 citations to date. In addition to publishing his work in the premier academic outlets of his field, his work was featured in Forbes, Futurism, the World Economic Forum, CBC Radio, and World Manufacturing Forum. He serves as Vice-Chair Americas (IFIP WG 5.7) and Associate Editor for ASTM Journal Smart and Sustainable Manufacturing Systems (SSMS) as well as the International Journal of Manufacturing Research. Grounded in the real world, he works closely with industry and serves on the advisory board of several startups, including Maven Machine, Inc.

Mentioned in the podcast

“Resilient Manufacturing Task Force Act requires the Department of Commerce to establish for one year the Resilient Manufacturing Task Force. Among other duties, the task force shall (1) identify critical vulnerabilities in the supply chains of products and resources that are essential to U.S. economic security, with a particular focus on vulnerabilities that have been made worse by COVID-19 (i.e., coronavirus disease 2019); and (2) develop specified plans to mitigate such vulnerabilities.”-

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