How Does Elon Musk Use Supply Chain Planning?

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If you’re not familiar with the name Elon Musk, you will be soon. This wildly ambitious, deliciously eccentric billionaire is the real-life Tony Stark of the tech world. Not only is he determined to be the first to put mankind on Mars, but he’s also suggested linking human brains to computers, building a “speed of sound” transportation system, and producing reusable space rockets.

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He’s also the CEO of Tesla, one of the most in-demand automotive companies on the planet. Under his direction, the manufacturer has grown to become the leading authority on electric motors and sustainable driving. While many of his ideas sound outlandish, to say the least, Musk has proved that, with a little imagination, it’s possible to do extraordinary things.

When it comes to supply chain planning, the Tesla boss is once again at the forefront of a technological revolution. After revealing plans to reach a production rate of 500,000 vehicles by 2020, he’s set a seemingly insurmountable challenge. However, with huge investments already made in robotics and digital supply chains, it looks like this colorful entrepreneur has it all under control.

We’re going to take a closer look at how Tesla is beating all the odds to produce affordable, sustainable cars at unprecedented rates.

Home Grown Innovation

One aspect of Tesla’s supply chain planning that tends to get overlooked is also one of its most remarkable. At a time when every major car company in America is outsourcing production, Elon Musk and his team are making the highly anticipated Model 3 in California. It might not sound like a big deal, but it’s flying in the face of modern supply chain planning.

Contrary to conventional wisdom about low-cost labor locations, the Model 3 will be the most affordable car that Tesla has ever built. It achieved this, in large part, due to incredible amounts of investment in advanced robotics. The technology is geared towards adaptability and smooth interaction with shop floor employees.

Integrated Manufacturing

Perhaps the most fascinating thing about the way Elon Musk handles supply chain planning is the fact that, in many ways, he’s moving backward. Over the last few years, Tesla has poured money into tangible, vertical assets. It plans to add to its full-service auto plant in California with a sprawling supplier park and a giant battery factory in Nevada.

This is in direct opposition to the “asset light” attitudes of the 90s. In fact, it has a lot in common with the methods of Henry Ford and the desire to stay self-sufficient at all costs. We can see this in the construction of a vast network of supercharger stations. According to Musk, they’ll be as commonplace as gas stations one day, so it makes sense to invest now.

Digital Products & Supply Chains

Now we come to one of the most talked about tech moments of 2017. During the devastation of Hurricane Irma in Florida, Tesla remotely boosted the range of its electric cars in order to help drivers escape. The move got a lot of attention, primarily because nobody really knew the company was capable of it.

Despite some concern over loss of autonomy, the unexpected upgrade has tech experts very excited. It means Tesla has the capability to digitize supply chain planning. For example, it could sell upgrades and enhancements for its cars over the internet. The development has enormous implications for the way companies, in any industry, produce and ship their products.

Customization from the Cloud

Not content with downloadable upgrades and record-breaking rates of production, Elon Musk is also leveraging the power of the cloud. This is more of an inevitability than a surprise, as the technology is quickly becoming ubiquitous. With Google, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft already making inroads, Tesla has to keep up.

It should come as no surprise, then, to find that Musk has upped the stakes yet again. Tesla has now uploaded customized driver profiles to the cloud, where they’ll eventually be available for download on demand in any of its vehicles. The result, when it arrives, will be fully personalized rides, with custom preferences accessible in an instant.

The Future of Supply Chain Planning

The reality, at least for now, is that the Elon Musks of the world are moving at a pace beyond the financial capabilities of many businesses. However, the harder these technological Willy Wonkas push at the boundaries of modern manufacturing and distribution, the faster they’ll fall for everybody else.

Already, IoT, big data and automation are making their way into supply chains. Fleet management software is starting to lean on connectivity as a way to predict maintenance needs, monitor valuable shipments and eliminate potential disruptions. It’s giving businesses greater insight into how and why deliveries move the way they do.

Driverless cars are appearing on our highways, and they’re set to have a huge impact on the speed and efficiency of supply chains. They’ll be followed by automated picking, packing and processing robots that will help reduce errors, maximize warehouse space and capture valuable data on inventory shifts and trends.

If you’re looking for a way to get ahead of the competition and invest in the future, it’s time to look at ways to automate. You might not be capable of filling a warehouse with robots like Amazon, but there are affordable automation solutions out there. Put your money in high-quality warehouse management and supply chain management software that’s scalable, adaptable and geared towards growth. It’s a small step, but one that can set your business on the path towards a better supply chain.

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