With rapid digital transformations shaking the status quo, the above statement holds true, now more than ever. Today, a supply chain is a combination of efforts through marketing, product development, manufacturing, distribution, and finally the customer. Digitizing this helps remove obstacles so that the process becomes a completely integrated ecosystem that is fully transparent to all the players involved — right from suppliers of raw materials, components, and parts, to the transporters of those supplies and finished goods, and ultimately to the customers.
However, the success of this network will depend on a number of key technologies. Right from integrated planning and execution systems, logistics visibility, to smart procurement and warehousing; all of this combined will enable companies to react to disruptions in the supply chain, and even anticipate them, making for a quicker and more efficient system. A digital supply chain will offer a new degree of responsiveness to companies. This would ensure that customers have the most efficient and transparent service delivery.
Ensuring smooth flow
An efficient supply chain system will have to ensure a seamless flow of goods from the manufacturer to the end-user. To enable this, the process will have to integrate certain steps even before the customer places a request for a product, i.e., a predictive demand forecasting.
Demand forecasting is not a new technology; entrepreneurs have worked on it through their experience and knowledge of market trends. There would be times when they would have a strong feeling about a certain trend from their interaction with various stakeholders and that is how demand would be decided. However, this process was extremely chaotic and unorganized. But today, with the availability of big data and various tools to study trends and patterns, including external factors like weather, political conditions, etc., the process is much more organized and transparent.
Continuous and transparent flow of information
The flow of information to all the stakeholders in the supply chain should be transparent and continuous. This easier said than done. It requires the collection and management of data at every point of movement of goods. This data needs to be organized and uploaded in real-time for other stakeholders in the supply chain to access it. The trust of passing on information to all stakeholders is primary. This helps in auto-correcting unforeseen problems at one end throughout the entire supply chain.
Digital trucking platform
A digital trucking platform helps address the needs of many parts of the supply chain. The consignor has prior information about the movement of vehicle allocated for transportation of goods. He can, in real-time, track the time slot at which the vehicle will be at his facility for loading of the consignment. This helps him plan and use the resources at his disposal accordingly. Once the vehicle is ready to move out after loading, both the consignor and consignee can track the movement of goods at every point of time. They both have access to the same information and need not coordinate with each other to track the vehicles. The vehicles relay real-time information of their location, estimated time of arrival, delays on the route among other things through onboard GPS tracking devices provided to all stakeholders. This data is analyzed to study the driving speed, route taken, any unscheduled stoppages and many other important data. This saves multiple calling and emails from consignor and consignee to track the shipment, thus enhancing overall supply efficiency.
Supply chains might be extremely complex but it is much easier to reduce cost through efficient systems than increasing sales at the same rate. New trends also have a heavy influence on supply chain management. For instance, there is a continuing growth of the rural areas, or even the pressure to reduce carbon emissions, as well as regulations of traffic for socioeconomic reasons add to the challenges that logistics sector is facing. Changing demographics also leads to reduced labor availability, as well as increasing ergonomic requirements that arise as the workforce age increases.
All these developments, along with evolving consumer requirements demand that companies rethink the way they design their supply chain. Several technologies have emerged that are altering traditional ways of working. Besides the need to adapt, supply chains also have the opportunity to reach the next horizon of operational effectiveness, to leverage emerging digital supply chain business models, and to transform the company into an effective and efficient digital supply chain.
Authored by: Rohit Jain, CMOAuthored by:Rohit Jain