How Supply Chain Integration is the Key to Unlocking Your Business Potential
Businesses all over the world are seeing the benefit of bringing the disparate elements of their organizations together to eliminate silos, increase efficiency, drive revenue, and reduce errors. One area of business which can really benefit from increased integration is within the supply chain.
Effective supply chain management is essential for the continued smooth running of any company. However, in the modern and digitally-driven business environment, the landscape can change very quickly, and one can easily fall behind. With this rapid pace of change, intelligent supply chain integration is essential if your organization wishes to remain competitive.
How, then, can supply chain integration be implemented in the best way to offer the necessary boosts to all elements of the business?
Organization-Wide Platform Integration
Siloing can be catastrophic to the smooth running of any company. Separate departments or locations which don't have effective methods of communication quickly become self-contained and used to doing things their own way. This disparity between organization and process means, when these departments or locations do need to communicate, they often find their methods incompatible, leading to ever more ingrained siloing.
The way to combat this is to bring all aspects of the supply chain together with an effective digital solution. Vendors, suppliers, distribution centers, warehouses, yards, and transportation systems can all be brought together with connected cloud-based systems. Allowing everyone to work from the same system brings process and formatting in line across the organization and allows orders to be processed and moved through the chain with minimal disruption or chance for error.
Big Data for Continuous Improvement
One upshot of using connected and integrated systems in the supply chain is they naturally gather and record huge amounts of data, which can be used to furtherer innovate, improve, and refine them.
Historical and current data can help a business identify patterns and work out where things have gone right or wrong in the past. If a particular link in the supply chain is consistently demonstrated to have fallen below expectations, then it can be improved, excised, or replaced, to the benefit of the organization as a whole. Data can also be used in an active, rather than reactive, manner as well, allowing models to be created which can predict problems which may arise in the future.
If there's one tech term which has had ears pricking up across every industry over the last few years, it's this one.
Blockchain can be used in supply chains to provide increased visibility, decentralized ledgers and data, and increased accuracy. With blockchain technology, the need for invoice auditing platforms becomes moot, as, by its very nature, the technology is self-auditing.
However, as blockchain technology for supply chains is not a widely available resource at this stage, one should expect to pay a premium to access it. Otherwise, this will be one to watch as we move through 2018 and into 2019.
Internet of Things
IoT technology can help bring data together from all over the supply chain, integrating not only processes and platforms but devices and equipment also.
2018 research into 227 retail firms found that IoT technology implementation had a "positive and significant effect on internal, customer-, and supplier-related process integration that in turn positively affects supply chain performance and organizational performance." This adds to a growing body of evidence which demonstrates the performance outcome benefits IoT supply chain integration can have on those organizations with the innovation and resources to implement it.
Productivity can be improved and operating costs lowered by automating many labor-intensive processes. RFID, Bluetooth, and robotics can carry out tedious tasks to a high degree of accuracy without ever getting tired or bored and handle thousands more processes than a human equivalent.
These technologies can self-report and update systems and data with little to no human involvement, making sure the entire supply chain has the transparency and up-to-date accuracy it requires.
Supply chain integration is undoubtedly the key to improving operations across any organization, and we are fortunate indeed to live in a time where there is so much innovative technology to help facilitate it. From connected devices to automated systems, the future should be a bright one for integrated supply chain management.
Supply chain integration is set to be a hot topic at LogiChem 2019, taking place this September in Houston, TX.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.