Tag Archives: Visibility

Opportunities In Your Supply Chain

Recently Scott Koegler published an article on “Fixing Your Supply Chain” in which he quoted the “Top Five Opportunities In Your Supply Chain” per OPS Rules Management Consultants. He then “threw down the gauntlet” for others to list their own Top 5, and see if these match. I am accepting the challenge!

Here is my game plan: I’m going to identify and add other vendors who are good at fixing your supply chain and see what THEIR opportunities might be. Then I will pick MY top 5 and tell you why I picked them.

Practical Visibility?

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How can better visibility help organizations improve performance and cut costs in their supply chain? We’ll elaborate on the importance of visibility in the supply chain and major pain points for organizations.

In today’s global world, your supply chain is no longer isolated to your own organization. Instead, today’s supply chains encompass a spider-web of partners and dependencies, whether you want it to or not. Materials in an agency’s supply chain may make stops in multiple warehouses, ride a global transportation network, or sit for months or years before suddenly being needed in a matter of hours or days in the event of an emergency.  The complexity and unpredictability of requirements makes the supply chains for departments such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency or the military, among the most difficult to manage.

One proven way to increase the reliability and responsiveness of supply chains is to increase visibility into everyday supply chain functions. Better information can reduce bottlenecks, identify process improvement opportunities, and make government supply chains function better and at a lower cost.

So, what does “visibility” mean in the 21st century supply chain?
Visibility means more than just awareness of where materials are at a given point in time or the amount of goods in a warehouse. Instead, visibility means a window into a wider range of data, supply chain processes, events, and patterns that enable automation, dynamic responses, and predictability. Great visibility into a complex, 21st century supply chain not only answers the basic questions of what is the current state, but it also helps answer questions like: how are we in this state; why are we in this state; and what will the state look like in the future?

Supply Chain Intelligence: Using Your Visibility To Reduce Supply Chain Costs (Part 2)

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If you have followed my writing at all, you already know I am the great advocate of Supply Chain Control Towers. Why, because they provide such great VISIBILITY into the whole supply chain. That easily translates into reduced supply chain costs. Let’s see how! In Part 1, we examined Supply Chain Visibility: A Critical Strategy to Optimize Cost and Service
I have found some good ideas on how visibility can cut supply chain costs from consultant John Berry.

There are plenty of sophisticated methods and algorithms out there to help calculate safety stock levels. However without good supply chain data, it’s almost impossible to implement any kind of rigorous inventory management process.:

  1. The unfortunate reality is that organizations frequently don’t have precise information about on-hand inventory counts.  This could be caused by a less-than-reliable ERP or WMS implementation.  Data latency is another common culprit for inventory blindness. Often inventory data is processed in batches. In a high velocity distribution center operation, even a 15 minute batch window can cause huge distortion on on-hand inventory counts. In fact it’s common to see daily, weekly or even monthly inventory reconciliations. Often organizations outsource fulfillment operations to 3PLs without properly thinking through data integration.  And often, inventory visibility is completely based on an emailed spreadsheet! Keeping safety stock to offset bad processes  is completely wasteful.

Read more: http://ec-bp.com/index.php/advisors/ec-bps-bloggers/10583-supply-chain-intelligence-using-your-visibility-to-reduce-supply-chain-costs-part-2#ixzz35dzRa3vx

Supply Chain Intelligence: Using Your Visibility To Reduce Supply Chain Costs

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If you have followed my writing at all, you already know I am the great advocate of Supply Chain Control Towers. Why, because they provide such great VISIBILITY into the whole supply chain. That easily translates into reduced supply chain costs. Let’s see how!

Supply Chain Visibility: A Critical Strategy to Optimize Cost and Service is a great report from Aberdeen by Bob Heaney and posted by GS1. A survey of global companies shows that Supply Chain Visibility (SCV) is a high priority for improvement and a critical strategy. Supply chain execution and responsiveness require the tight synchronization of supply and demand, as well control of the three flows of commerce (movement of goods, information and funds) across a large number of logistic and trading partners in a wide geographic area.

It requires supply chain visibility which they define as “The awareness of, and control over, specific information related to product orders and physical shipments, including transport and logistics activities, and the status of events and milestones that occur prior to and in-transit.”

Visibility means more than just track and trace. It begs a control tower approach which covers everything from raw material to the delivery to the end customer. A global supply chain can be huge and every member must be in synch. This approach is defined as “A set of integrated processes and technologies that support a seamless flow of product from source to end customer, regardless of global complexity, or sales and logistics preferences of customers.”

Supply Chain Intelligence – Utilizing the Services Hub

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It is a given that to manage our supply chain, we have to have as much visibility as possible. Our SCM Control Tower is hooked up with logistics providers, parts suppliers, customers, manufacturing, procurement…did I forget anybody? Yup. The electronic commerce people who move this data all around for us: the Services Hub.

Yes, we are getting good info from these other sources, but our Services Hub could add value too.

Leveraging the Services Hub for Supply Chain Visibility is just one example of what services vendors are capable of. The approach to better visibility is combining existing IT technology with some more unique tools.They have explained the language of supply chain visibility, measuring the value of visibility, and building a solution with a step-by-step strategy.

Now we could look at all the current definitions of “Supply Chain Visibility” and write a book (gee, what a great idea for my spare time)! Let’s use the following definition for now: Visibility gives you the information you need, when you need it and in the right context to make business decisions. It finds root causes, which now makes it “actionable intelligence”.

SCM Control Tower Start-Up

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We have been gathering a list of issues that need to to be resolved before building a Supply Chain Control Tower: SCM and IT partnership; Visibility; Strategy and expectations; Foundation for the tower; and Team-building. Here’s a recap of what we know, what we need, and where we might go.

SCM and IT partnership
The supply chain functional teams are expecting support from Information Technology. Up to now, many IT organizations have not been heavily involved with a lot of the supply chain; for example, the Procurement system could be a package that is supported directly by the vendor. How about bringing the teams together by emphasizing IT network management skills? IT manages complex wide-area networks using state-of-the-art applications. SCM will rapidly understand that IT brings real value to the party.

Visibility
Scott Koegler wrote about “Combined Data and Visibility”. He pointed out that the number of systems or software applications that make up the supply chain within a single company is likely to be more than 1 and could easily be as many as 20. If that’s the case how is it possible to actually achieve what we’ve been calling visibility? He quickly dispelled the notion that all data for the SCM Control Tower can come in real time from the EDI system. So a conclusion is that the SCM Control Tower will need what is called “middleware”.

SCM Control Tower Start-Up

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We have been gathering a list of issues that need to to be resolved before building a Supply Chain Control Tower: SCM and IT partnership; Visibility; Strategy and expectations; Foundation for the tower; and Team-building.
SCM and IT partnership
The supply chain functional teams are expecting support from Information Technology. Up to now, many IT organizations have not been heavily involved with a lot of the supply chain; for example, the Procurement system could be a package that is supported directly by the vendor. How about bringing the teams together by emphasizing IT network management skills? IT manages complex wide-area networks using state-of-the-art applications. SCM will rapidly understand that IT brings real value to the party.

Visibility
Scott Koegler recently wrote about “Combined Data and Visibility”. He pointed out that the number of systems or software applications that make up the supply chain within a single company is likely to be more than 1 and could easily be as many as 20. If that’s the case how is it possible to actually achieve what we’ve been calling visibility? He quickly dispelled the notion that all data for the SCM Control Tower can come in real time from the EDI system. So a conclusion is that the SCM Control Tower will need what is called “middleware”.

Read More about Starting Up A Supply Chain Control Tower

Supply Chain Management Control Towers and BIG DATA

ImageControl towers are used in many industries for different purposes: airports and railroads use them for traffic control; power plants have control rooms to monitor operations and third party logistics providers use them to track transportation activities. These are places where operations run well. Why not a “SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CONTROL TOWER” to monitor and assure supply?

The SCM Control Tower is all about having visibility throughout the supply chain. But if there is total visibility and no ability to make decisions, then it is not a control tower. To be a decision maker, you will need to run “what if” scenarios: forecast and recalculate the entire inventory if “your ship doesn’t come in” (something that literally could happen). To be able to calculate effects of events, it will require a LOT of data. Hence, we need to introduce BIG DATA to our Control Tower.

The Control Tower needs high quality data from both internal and external sources. With a global supply chain, a company is more vulnerable than ever. Suppliers are also vulnerable on the land, sea and air. Issues arise from political events, weather, security and health issues. The possibilities are almost endless. Yes, you can monitor news channels, weather forecasts, police radios; but it could be overwhelming. The answer is to automate the gathering process, then use data analysis to highlight YOUR hot spots. RSS FEEDS are increasingly available, even from local police departments (well, the “police blotter” is now electronic and applications are available to attach grid coordinates to almost anything). Even weather data can get more accurate by folding in the thousands of “backyard” weather stations that have become more popular. These little guys can provide METAR feeds. See how many are in your area at Wunderground. All this increased data (BIG DATA) will overwhelm you without analytic capabilities. Simplified, you have to automatically “sift” through it, pull out what applies (YOUR parameters), and utilize it (maybe “post” to your “trouble map”).