Why connected supply chain
The concept of connected supply chain is understood mostly by people who watch commercials. Especially the ones that say you can expect the refrigerator to automatically place an order if you’ve run out of milk, or if the milk level goes down. It is assumed that the order is placed as an online order and the system somehow manages to find the vendor and get it delivered to the home. In reality, there are lots of moving parts and the process is more complicated than you’d think.
A simple order once placed has to go through multiple systems. The data in the software systems of the ERP are managed separately but the data in the physical systems is available separately. A True connected supply chain has to integrate the data together and use the common data for transactional accuracy.
The complexity of the systems
The most important systems that are needed to make the connected supply chain successful can be split into 3 parts.
- Data generation layer
- Data research and storage layer
- Data visualization layer
Data generation layer
Generation of data is the part in which the physical system and ERP systems come into play, where the source data like the order number, tracking ID, device ID, GPS ID etc., are generated for every order. This is the source of the truth which enables the identification of the order and its location. It is the most important part of the whole system.
Data research and storage layer
Data research is the part where the integration of the physical and ERP data is done. The complexity of the system is to identify a common / unique identifier which acts as the common factor between the physical and the ERP layer. Once this is established, the back tracing of the data happens. Artifical intelligence plays a critical part in ensuring that feedback and improvements can be sent back to the systems and intelligence of prediction and prevention can be improved.
Data visualization layer
Data Visualization is the stage where the actions taken by the system become visible to the external world. Systems like dashboards and visualization mecahnisms can be used to provide the right visibility, and help conduct ‘what if’ analysis and enhance operator performance.