Seven Ways a Digital Supply Chain Will Improve Your Business

The Blume Global Team | August 29, 2019

Digitizing your supply chain and logistics operations will transform the way your business operates. Digitization will enhance communications, let you resolve issues, reduce delays, connect partners, provide visibility and give you a competitive advantage.

Whether you’re a supplier, manufacturer, wholesaler, retailer, logistics provider or another supply chain organization, there are numerous ways you can benefit from going digital.

 

Rapid Sharing of Supply Chain Data Leads to Much Greater Visibility

Information is the lifeblood of global supply chains, and having the latest data on shipments, logistics, assets and more is essential to streamlining your supply chain operations. Every organization in a supply chain uses different data protocols, so having a way to bring all of this information together in a centralized way is critical. Digitizing the supply chain makes it easier to connect to all the data sources you need and consolidate everything into a unified view of all operations from every organization.

  • Talk to supply chain partners about how they communicate information
  • Get agreements in place for managing and sharing supply chain data
  • Use a centralized platform that can gather information from multiple sources
  • Develop dashboards and reports based on the most critical KPIs in the supply chain

 

Integration with Supply Chain Technology Across Multiple Organizations Creates Centralized Control

Just as supply chain organizations use various data protocols, they all rely on different technology to manage their part of the process. If you want to manage the supply chain in a centralized way, integrating with all of this technology is vital. Moving to a digital supply chain lets you connect with these disparate systems in an understandable way so you can drill down into the details your supply chain managers need.

  • Identify the most important applications and other technology that you need to integrate with
  • Choose a supply chain management platform that provides deep integration with the majority of software
  • Get agreements in place to integrate with partner data
  • Talk to supply chain managers about what they need to implement effective supply chain controls

 

Identifying Delays and Inefficiencies in the Supply Chain Brings Costs Down

Instant access to data and supply chain technology lets you understand how everything is working around the world. AI and machine learning can help you drill into those details and find out where there are hold ups, quality issues or waste in the supply chain. You can track performance against the benchmarks you set and get alerted when thresholds are breached. Identifying and resolving the root causes of these issues will save you money and help you get products to market faster.

  • Create benchmarks for ideal scenarios and baselines for acceptable ones
  • Audit how goods move through the supply chain so you understand the end-to-end process
  • Get the right analytics in place so you can understand the impact on costs
  • Build reporting on costs into your supply chain management platform
  • Build a continual improvement program to identify and resolve inefficiencies in the supply chain

 

Connecting Trading Partners Allows for Better Scheduling, Manufacturing and Logistics

Manufacturers are increasingly moving towards “Just in Time” manufacturing, which relies on understanding exactly when they’re going to receive the raw materials and parts they need to produce goods. Moving to a digital supply chain makes it easier to track exactly when they can expect to receive shipments so they can schedule in time on the assembly line without causing upstream or downstream bottlenecks or delays. This type of digital connection allows for the more rapid handover of goods through the supply chain, leading to greater efficiencies.

  • Talk to trading partners to see the type of information they need to optimize schedules
  • Use data connectivity to provide greater visibility between trading partners
  • Build contingency plans in case you run into issues with delayed or damaged goods

 

Implementing a Digital Supply Chain Helps Drive Accountability and Sustainability

A digital supply chain makes suppliers, manufacturers, logistics and other supply chain organizations more accountable. Because supply chain managers can get centralized reporting and data, it’s easy to ensure that all parts of the supply chain are meeting their commitments. Additionally, with the increased focus on environmental issues, visibility into the supply chain helps to drive sustainability initiatives which can create a powerful message to concerned consumers. This applies to other parts of corporate social responsibility (CSR) too—businesses can ensure they’re sourcing and manufacturing goods in a responsible way, and that workers in the supply chain have the proper protections and pay.

  • Insist that supply chain organizations meet sustainability and CSR requirements
  • Review agreements with supply chain partners and build targets into your reporting
  • Ensure that targets include reporting on sustainability and other CSR initiatives
  • Create alerts that indicate if agreement thresholds have been breached

 

Tracking Shipments Through a Digital Supply Chain Enhances Security

Logistics companies can take advantage of the digital supply chain by installing devices to track products, shipments and logistics assets, wherever they are. IoT devices continually report their position through GPS, allowing supply chain managers to get details on where they are, anywhere in the world. Some devices go beyond location tracking, providing environmental and other types of monitoring to ensure products are transported and stored in ideal conditions.

  • Work with logistics companies that provide GPS tracking for products and shipments
  • Build real-time tracking into your centralized SCM platform
  • Get alerts for when goods are not moving smoothly through the supply chain
  • Create reporting on environmental monitoring for sensitive products

 

Managing Supply and Demand through Supply Chain Forecasting

Supply chain forecasting models are becoming increasingly sophisticated. You can use forecasts and combine them with AI and machine learning to take into account seasonal trends, marketing activities and other factors to accurately predict consumer demand. You can then translate this into supply requirements all the way up the supply chain, so that you can maintain inventory levels through the careful early management of supply and manufacturing orders.

  • Invest in a platform that provides robust supply, demand and capacity planning, including advanced forecasting models
  • Allow for multiple inputs to forecasting models based on multiple criteria
  • Seek out AI-powered supply and demand planning so you can understand requirements across multiple scenarios
  • Integrate forecasting with order management for easy translation of end products into raw ingredients and interim parts

As you can see, there are multiple benefits for moving to a digital supply chain. Mark McArthur, Managing Director of The Alpega Group in North America put it well, “Digitalization of logistics and supply chains isn’t the future; it’s already here. Organizations that don’t embrace current and emerging technologies across their transportation, warehousing and supply chain operations won’t be able to compete.”

We know you want to compete by going digital. The time to start is now.

 

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