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If there’s anything we’ve learnt over the last year or so, it’s that you really can’t predict the unpredictable. Take COVID-19, for example. It’s majorly disrupted supply chains. And it won’t be the last incident to do so. Natural disasters, political changes, financial crashes - these are all examples of uncontrollable events that can impact your supply chain.

The solution? To digitise your operations and supply chain management process so your business is better prepared to handle crises, even if you can’t precisely predict them. And here are three ways to do just that:

  1. Invest in automation
  2. Exploit AI analytics
  3. Benefit from a connected ERP system

3 ways to improve supply chain management

1. Invest in automation

Benefits of automation for manufacturers

Shortages in the labour market and rising wages were already affecting manufacturers. 2020 brought on social distancing restrictions which are still in place at the time of writing and unlikely to be lifted any time soon. In fact, some health experts are even predicting these restrictions to continue until 2022.

This is why the case for investment in automated technology is becoming increasingly attractive.

Here are some benefits of replacing your manual processes with automation:

  • Reduces the number of repetitive tasks which boosts productivity and efficiency
  • Empowers your team to perform better and with a higher sense of worth
  • Reduces the number of people needed to perform a particular manual-heavy task
  • Frees your team up to perform higher value-added work
  • Helps you get the right work to the right people at the right time
  • Increases visibility of your business processes if you can turn your data into a report

Once your business matures, the possibilities for automation deepen. For example, you can use machine learning and machine vision to enhance your predictive data capabilities even further.

2. Exploit AI analytics

Improve operations and supply chain management

Natural disasters, health emergencies and other geo-political problems can easily disrupt your sourcing operations and labour plans in a matter of hours. You might not be able to predict the unpredictable but you can use technology to increase your visibility of your operations and market. This can increase your chances of assuming ‘business as usual’.

Let’s say there’s a national flood. This would lead to towns and villages being cut off from the road network and impact your supply chain. You can mitigate the impact by consulting data feeds that are available online. Analyse this data alongside your customer and vendor data, and you end up with a few days’ early warning.

Perfect for making a mitigation plan!

3. Benefit from a connected ERP system

Why manufacturers need an ERP

An ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) system sits at the heart of your technological transformation. This is because of its ability to integrate with multiple systems and consolidate data from different sources to create a single view of your business.

Here are some main benefits of an ERP system like Microsoft Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations:

  • Improves sales demand forecasting - Azure machine learning analyses your product sales histories and trains itself to select from five sophisticated statistical forecasting models
  • Facilitates more efficient constraint management - the ERP comes with tools that can help you identify physical capacity constraints and plan their use so you can maximise throughput and minimise cost
  • Unlocks proactive supplier collaboration - your suppliers will have controlled remote access to your ERP
  • Sets dynamic safety stocks - rather than the blanket approach, the ERP provides automated methods for dynamically calculating appropriate statistical safety stock levels for individual products and groups of products
  • Helps you achieve effective customer demand management - D365F&O sales order processing offers ‘available to promise’ and ‘capable to promise’ functionalities so your sales administrators can generate realistic confirmed ship and receipt dates against sales order lines

Learn more about the benefits of Dynamics 365 Finance & Operations for your supply chain here. We also have a factsheet that covers the features and functionalities of D365 Supply Chain Management which you can read below.

The benefits of D365 Supply Chain Management

Is your business’ supply chain stable enough to withstand unpredictable conditions?

The modern-day supply chain typically extends across multiple countries and time zones. But the wider the network, the more fragile it is. You know that. So, how can you transform your supply chain so it’s agile and resilient enough to thrive in the face of uncertainty?

The solutions we mentioned in this blog are a good start. Your next steps? We’ve covered them in our checklist which you can download below.

How to improve your supply chain

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