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Cambridge International Manufacturing Symposium

23-24 September 2021

Studying at Cambridge

Chair's Introduction 2018

The 22nd Cambridge International Manufacturing Symposium will once again bring together industry, academia Jag Sraiand policymakers, providing an opportunity for open dialogue and insights into practice and research. This year’s Symposium will focus on the theme of supply chain transformation enabled by advanced technologies.

Previously, advances in supply chain and operations management have been centred around continuous improvement. But do new digital and production technologies represent a more fundamental disruption, to the extent that we are rethinking how supply chains work? These developments are significant not just for producers and their supply chains, but also for consumers and society at large. There are several trends that are converging which may support a more radical development: For example, consumers have more opportunity to demand visibility and transparency, particularly in regard to product integrity and provenance. At the same time, advanced technologies are opening up the prospect of ‘democratised manufacturing’ with opportunities for end-users to be more involved in product design and production. At societal level, a move towards increased localisation is being stimulated by 3D printing, promising manufacturing nearer to the point of consumption with more efficient use of resources. As sustainability gains increasing attention, technological developments around the concept of the ‘circular economy’ suggest ways to reduce resource intensity and waste.

For producers, there remain considerable challenges and open questions around technology adoption. How do companies choose which technologies to focus on? What strategic partnerships are required? And how do companies develop the right skills, not only for implementing those technologies, but also for understanding the opportunities they present and making good strategic decisions? Beyond company walls, supply chains of the future will require different governance, with industry, academia and regulators working together. It is not about applying established rules to new technologies, but instead defining new approaches to achieving better outcomes.

The Symposium provides an opportunity to share experiences across industry partners, hear insights from academics, and consider policy implications. As per our usual format, we have some outstanding senior industrial speakers on the first day of our Symposium, representing exemplars of manufacturing supply chain initiatives. Senior executives from AstraZeneca, Cisco, Ford, Innocent, Schneider Electric, Siemens, and Signify (formerly Philips Lighting) will be sharing their thoughts on the future configurations of international manufacturing supply networks.

On day two we will be presenting insights from leading academics. Our keynote academic speakers this year are Professor Jan Olhager (Lund University), Professor Fabrizio Salvador (IE Business School), and Dr Sandeep Kapur (Punjab Agricultural University) who will share their research insights. This will be followed by parallel tracks on the topics of relating to our main themes this year.

I am sure you will enjoy the engaging yet informal atmosphere of our rather unique academic-practitioner-policy community, one that has developed its own modus operandi in shaping the forward research agenda. As part of this continued exchange of ideas we are very much looking forward to welcoming you to the 2018 Cambridge International Manufacturing Symposium.

Dr Jagjit Singh Srai

Symposium Chair

Head of Centre for International Manufacturing

University of Cambridge Institute for Manufacturing


To access the research papers from the 2018 Symposium, please visit the University repository here.