When it comes to supply chains, what we don’t know can really hurt us. This is something many industries and businesses often discover during times of crisis, whether it’s a change in customer expectations or an unpredictable situation (COVID-19 as a recent example). The less visibility you have over your supply chain, the harder it can be to anticipate issues and minimise disruptions.
Here are some steps you can take to futureproof your supply chain.
- Integrate your supply chain network
- Automate your manufacturing processes
- Monitor your supplier data
- Unlock the power of predictive analytics
1. Integrate your supply chain network
Transform your supply chain from siloed and relying on disparate systems to an integrated, digital network. When you digitise your business, you can view everything from the procurement of raw materials to manufacturing and customer fulfilment in real-time and in one place.
Technology can integrate your disparate systems and automatically pull your data through, hosting it in one location. The key benefits of this include:
- Being able to access real-time, accurate data in a single location
- Boosted efficiency and productivity
- Enhanced end-to-end visibility of your supply chain and processes
- Better anticipate and plan for shifts in market trends, customer demands, availability of raw materials, potentially catastrophic events and more
2. Automate your manufacturing process and build a connected factory floor
This is where the companies who can embrace and integrate the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) into their manufacturing process can really shine. If you connect all your assets with your people (no matter where they might be located), you can gain real-time insights. This can help you enhance production uptime and reduce the chance of operational risks.
Technology can enable this level of connectivity, automatically transferring data from every machine and piece of equipment. This empowers you with data so it’s easier to make more informed decisions and by automating data entry, reduces the risk of human error (such as inaccurate or missing data).
Alluding back to our previous point, you’ll gain more visibility over your processes (manufacturing in particular here) which can ensure your business stays competitive.
For example, you can receive automatic updates on your equipment’s performances so it’s easier to keep up with maintenance. It’s also easier to manage resource utilisation and product standards as you can monitor your raw material levels.
3. Monitor your supplier data
Thanks to real-time insights, you can easily identify at-risk suppliers and potentially weak points in your supply chain. This means you can take swift action and better decisions to tackle problems before they happen.
Let’s use Brexit as an example. If your business relies on raw materials and human labour from the EU, Brexit will likely impact your supply chain. However, analytics can help you mitigate the risks.
An ERP system with an integrated business intelligence tool (like Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Power BI) allows you to create a dashboard based on your suppliers and customers, along with clear traffic light ratings. This makes it easy to quickly see your areas of greatest risk, share this report with anyone who needs to access it and come up with a game plan.
4. Unlock the power of predictive analytics
Predictive analytics tools can help ensure your business stays on top of its game when it comes to mitigating potential problems.
For example, you can keep track of market trends so it’s easier to anticipate potential shifts in customer demand and the availability of raw materials. You can also monitor aspects like environmental and ethical risks associated with your supply chain.
This means your business can always stay ahead of the times and satisfy customers, whether it’s working to tackle broader industry issues like eliminating forced labour for good or mitigating climate change and adopting more sustainable practices.
And it all starts with digitalisation…
You can probably see a recurring theme here. All of these steps revolve around a digitalised supply chain. This is precisely what the future supply chain should look like - agile.
It’s time to embrace digital transformation and integrate new technologies into your supply chain. ERP systems, business intelligence, AI, machine learning and blockchain are just a handful of the tech that can help. You can gain an end-to-end view of your processes, benefit from real-time data and the ability to make swift business decisions.
And that’s just the start.
Want to learn more on how you can digitally innovate your business? Click the button below to download our handy guide. It covers everything we discussed in this blog, plus the specific technology you should invest in and change management tips.