Digital innovations revolutionizing today’s manufacturing processes. 

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From food to fashion, digital innovations are revolutionizing manufacturing processes globally, making production lines more efficient and sustainable. How exactly is digitalization helping drive change? What have we achieved? And how much value can digitization create? Digitization has already had a significant impact on a myriad of industries, transforming them for the better. Avery Dennison is no exception. For us a manufacturer of labels and labeling materials supporting multiple industries, digitization plays a critical role in transforming our customer experience, our manufacturing platforms, and the solutions that we put into the market.

I often say that the label is frequently the sole communicator of information on consumer products. As we make labels more intelligent, with the introduction of RFID and QR code technology, we unlock tremendous opportunities to create new value – from consumer engagement to supply chain transparency to sustainability. 

Leveraging data to improve the customer experience and improve manufacturing effectiveness.

Digital innovations are helping manufacturers become more agile, providing brands with the ability to respond quickly to customer demands, and in some cases, predict those demands. It all starts with data. By applying artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technology to historical pools of product data, companies can predict demand patterns more effectively, automate product design processes, and improve the effectiveness and sustainability of the product development processes. 

Algorithms can also be created to suggest modifications that will cut waste and energy usage. 

A similar approach can be extended to manufacturing. Applying machine learning to historical production volume data will help optimize supply chain and manufacturing efficiency, ultimately ensuring the right product is being made at the right time according to demand patterns. This level of optimization within supply chains will in turn improve the level of service manufacturers provide. Furthermore, analyzing historical data will enhance the understanding of the technical performance of products once they’ve been produced. For instance, we can forecast the performance of products such as packaging and label materials, based on specific criteria that describe the environment in which they will be used. With this knowledge, we can enhance our quality inspection processes and improve our product development efforts. 

The digitalization of manufacturing platforms also represents a tremendous opportunity. Investing in automation and robotics in the factory has tremendous 

benefits. The tendency is to focus on efficiency and cost, but that is too limited. Focusing on effectiveness and value creation will boost your customer experience, but it will also assist employees in improving their work processes, which in turn, drives speed and accuracy. In other words, effectiveness drives efficiency. 

Evolving solutions and products entering the market

Today’s customers are ‘always on’. They are almost perpetually connected to the internet via their smartphones and other IoT devices, which means they have high expectations when it comes to digital experiences. 

Ensuring digital technology is leveraged to help unlock new digital experiences for both your customers and the end users alike is becoming essential. The label is often the sole vehicle for communicating with consumers, and so at Avery Dennison, we have invested in embedding digital triggers into our product to create digital experiences. Our own examples include ‘connecting garments’ via QR codes, RFID or NFC technology, and innovative smart packaging ranges. Using technology in this way has the power to unlock new consumer experiences, highlighting information that they may not have had the chance to engage with before. This includes product authenticity, transparency on product content and supply chain, and ways to enable sustainability and circularity by digitally communicating product information required to recycle or resell products. 

Putting digitalization into practise with fashion focus

At Avery Dennison, almost everything we create is personalized or customized to each customer’s requirements. Within RBIS, much of our output is for the fashion sector, which is highly time and demand-sensitive, so it’s vital we are able to turn around products on demand to meet clients’ essential just-in-time strategies. We’ve spent years developing innovative software platforms and hardware that allow our customers to make products in their own factories, on demand. As the trends in speed and customization continue to impact the industry, we continue to invest in solutions that reimagine the supply chain. I’m especially excited about the digital care label innovation we’ve achieved for the apparel sector. Using Avery Dennison’s Intelligent Labels – a suite of IoT-enabling technologies that authenticate product history, and provide tracking and inventory solutions – we can now communicate vast quantities of data via these digital care labels with QR codes, all of which will benefit brands, consumers, and the planet too. 

Our connected world is a work in progress. In time, digital advancements like these will enable manufacturers to become even smarter, encouraging them to move beyond being reactive to problems when they occur, to instead predicting and preventing failures before they happen. 

The gains being made from these learnings of behavior from data will prevent operational delays, boost productivity, and control energy and material waste. Once tech advances are replicated at scale across industries, fully modernized operating models will deliver great things across the supply chain, especially consumers. 

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