How can a company maximize the performance of its supply chain in the face of a highly volatile market? As organizations strive to offer best-in-class delivery, supply chain management becomes a critical component of operational efficiency. Essentially, the goal of a supply chain is to keep costs low while maintaining a high level of quality. However, there are several complexities involved in delivering quality goods on time. According to IDC Manufacturing Insights’ 2012 U.S. Supply Chain survey of 350 companies, reducing supply chain costs is the topmost priority for the manufacturing sector in 2013.
Companies can leverage big data to track and measure performance through a variety of metrics and advanced analytics tools to discover hidden patterns in data. Also, a variety of technologies including RFID systems, vehicle-mounted transponders, and tablets contribute to efficiency by increasing the visibility of goods across the network through better information flow. RFID systems collect data that allows real-time tracking of shipments, leading to nearly continuous visibility. Structured data from sensors and RFID tags can be merged with warehouse and transportation management systems to create a common information pool.
Another trend is the emergence of supply chain control towers in the past year. A control tower is a single command center giving visibility into inbound and outbound distribution flows, based on real-time data. For example, consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble (P&G) set up control towers to manage logistics as part of its distribution strategy for serving emerging markets. The control towers helped manage the flow of products to the distributors that sell P&G’s products in those regions. This model has helped them control distribution costs and manage supply flows into emerging markets.
In addition, the social supply chain concept is expected to gain traction in 2013. The ability to be both collaborative and profitable will transform the way we work. Companies that are part of the supply chain need to realize the true potential of social networking and the cost-effective business opportunities it presents. With the help of social tools, companies can create internal communities and even participate in external communities to explore various aspects of supply chain operations.
The adoption of modern tools will not only improve visibility, but also increase supply chain efficiency by delivering top-line growth. Evidently, businesses that fail to adapt to these new dynamics will find it challenging to stay ahead of the competition.