Digital solutions for VUCA markets

In this latest Member’s Briefing article, Member company ABGI-UK provide detail on how digital solutions can help manufacturers in dealing with the volatile global market conditions being experienced at the moment. 


It looks like the disruption created by the last 15 months of pandemic isn’t over. In fact, if anything, the opening up of our economy may just be the beginning of renewed trials for manufacturers.


As recent events demonstrated, a single incident, such as the running aground of just one container ship can have significant knock-on problems for global freight. Granted, this was the world’s largest container ship, with 20,000 containers on-bord, creating a queue of over 370 additional freightliners, but it’s still a good example of how easy it is to create supply chain chaos on a global scale.


In a similar vein, the disruption to mining activity in a number of countries has resulted in a global shortage of copper, in turn impacting on the supply of brass and other copper-based alloys. While China’s swing to being a net importer of steel resulted in similar shortages in the global steel market.


What do these events have in common?


These unforeseen events have acted together to create a level of volatility businesses haven’t seen in a generation and is projected to stay with us for the next 12 months or more.


While British companies are powerless to change the market conditions causing the volatility, they can develop strategies to allow them to survive and exploit the situation to their advantage.


At its most basic level, companies need to learn how to become more flexible and responsive.


Given the complexity of today’s supply chains, it’s not an easy task. Making your own company more responsive is hard enough, but every business within your supply chain then doubles the complexity of maintaining responsiveness, making it extra challenging to react quickly and efficiently in turbulent times.


These challenges include:

  • Identifying new solutions to changing market conditions
  • Evaluating and selecting the most appropriate option
  • Validating required changes to components and products
  • Designing the revised product for manufacture
  • Communicating all changes and implications through every link in the supply chain


The good news is the adoption of digital tools within the supply chain can help companies make significant advances in improving responsiveness in volatile situations.


How can digitalisation help with crisis management?


The first stage is revising your designs and specifications for the product, addressing the specific issue confronting the supply chain.


A CAD/CAM package allows you to quickly review a range of alternative design revisions to find the most effective solution and translate the new design into a bill of materials and validate manufacturing processes, to share with collaborators in the supply chain.


Digital simulation tools allow manufacturers to validate the performance of alternative materials and designs, while proving the functionality of the finished product. This could allow companies to replace one raw material, temporarily unavailable or in short supply, with another and improve its responsiveness to unpredictable market conditions. Similarly, simulation tools then allow users to swiftly complete the design for manufacture process.


Finally, built-in data sharing tools allow these design modifications to be pushed to all members of the supply chain, ensuring everyone involved is aware of changes and the implications to their own sourcing and manufacturing processes.


This is just a small part of what can be achieved when manufacturing businesses adopt the digital tools available to them. Over the next three articles we will explore the use of digital solutions in improving business robustness and resilience.


To find out more about digital solutions for manufacturing please contact Sandy Findlay on 07807 739033 or email


ABGI is a global consultancy with over 30 years’ experience helping some of the world’s best known brands accelerate innovation and business expansion by capitalising on their R&D activities, in compliance with all rules and regulations. They have extensive experience helping companies leverage valuable funding back into their business through government-backed incentives such as grant funding, R&D tax relief, Capital allowances or Patent Box.