Supply chain management has become increasingly important during the coronavirus pandemic. Digitizing your supply chain will no only improve management, but minimize future risks.
The need to improve supply chain management on all fronts has never been more important, and the digitization of supply chains means taking advantage of technological features that allows for.
Digitizing for a more resilient supply chain
“Resilience is the buzzword for supply chain management,” according to Tom Craig, an independent supply chain and logistics consultant
. He emphasized that a major component to this resilience is technology (e.g., robotics, drones
, contactless tech, blockchain, artificial intelligence, etc.) and digitization.
Companies today are looking to see how the opportunities offered by digitization
cannot only help them better prepare for extreme situations in the future, but also develop detailed risk mitigation concepts.
According to Ken Weygand, Solutions Architect at Aptean
, the following are some of the features supply chain managers are looking for in their management solutions:
- Forecasting/inventory planning: Forecasting that can take into account historical trends as well as recent trends in the present environment, and react to them.
- Processing of point-of-sale (POS) sell-through data: The ability to take in POS sell-through data from the retailer/ecommerce retailer on sales for consumer goods importers/distributors and have analytics around it to properly scale demand.
- Sourcing tracking: Calculating and tracking long lead and transit times.
- Production quantities: Takes into account minimum order quantities (minimum production runs) on products, values, etc.
- Container ordering: When placing new factory orders, doing so to fill an entire container without wasted space.
- Supplier production monitoring and portal: The ability to monitor a purchase order from creation/submission to the supplier/factory all the way until the goods arrive at the warehouse for receipt and a digital portal to provide real-time feedback and updates.
Supply chain managers are also looking for automation between systems
that tend to bottleneck (e.g., CAD systems, configurators or web sites) to achieve a more quickly defined and actual order data and component mix for the rest of the supply chain, according to Jim Tuttle, Senior Solutions Architect at Aptean. They are also looking for any features that can support their inventory control, like bar coding or IoT controls, to capture inventory movement.
Having the aforementioned information can help businesses overcome challenges with rapid changes and adaptability. Digitization and automation will also positively accelerate companies looking to build-up inventories and safety stocks.
Benefits of scalability and flexibility
Scalable and flexible solutions also have benefits for supply chain managers. For example, cloud offerings, such as Aptean’s, allows users to access systems wherever they have an internet connection, with browser-based solutions accessible on mobile devices or when working from a remote location
, something that’s become crucial in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Having the ability to scale and flex to suit business requirements, specialized SaaS offerings can grow with the business, ensuring that production isn’t hindered by the very solutions designed to boost efficiency, as well as scaling things back to suit any seasonal or situational changes in demand,” Weygand said.
Simplifying supply chains will help, too
The coronavirus pandemic revealed significant weaknesses
in the structure and organization of the networks. Aptean estimates that global sourcing will undoubtedly continue to exist, but with regard to the importance of the components to be sourced, the decision for or against a specific supply chain will be made in a much more differentiated manner.
In order to avoid the disruptions felt as a result of COVID-19, companies will need to simplify supply chains, as the pandemic put front and center how the more complex a supply chain is structured, the significantly higher risk there is of failure.