The need for a true intelligent supply chain
The world is rife with disruptions, and what it truly needs is a very strong intelligent supply chain – a supply chain that can automatically look at upstream manufacturing, product intake, logistics, transportation and delivery, and feed intelligence to produce the right product at the right time and in the right place. But to do so, we not only need fragmented systems, but a data fabric that extends right across the entire manufacturing landscape to the end-to-end supply chain. Therefore, we need an integrated system to make a true intelligent supply chain or make one that is effective.
So where does the problem lie?
The primary concern is integration. When we break down the supply chain end-to-end, we have 3 separated entities:
- UpStream manufacturing
- Manufacturing process
- Supply chain and logistics
Upstream manufacturing consists of the core of production where sourcing of products and raw materials happens. For the retailer, it might consist of product needs required for final assembly. In the current industry, any PLM entity that takes care of the product processes, and the ERP systems and its corresponding IoT gateway devices, possesses this data. Another key element that we need to foresee is the correlation of the products present - our research suggests that an RFID tag, a product reference, an SKU ID or a serialization number should serve this purpose. This data should give us a head start on what really is the need of the hour.
Every manufacturer owns ERP/MES systems that usually take care of the entire process such as – details on OEMs, raw material suppliers for manufacturing, process compliance in industries where mandatory, such as Health concentration on serialization etc. All these factors are well defined and stored as data in the corresponding systems. The thread of this data is enabled based on upstreamed raw materials thereby defining the second step of connection.
Supply chain and logistics
For finished goods, repacking, and logistics systems, there are ERP systems such as JDA, Manhattan etc. that are masters in maintaining data. Retailers who have their own legacy systems also exist. We always require data to be intact for usage. Data covers everything from an Order Management system to the transportation system. During our research, we realized that there are a few providers who completely outsource logistics and transportation, where integration of data to either an ERP system or to some unstructured data has to be done. Intersection of this data to the source of manufacturing happens with an SKU ID or the purchase order ID that has indices to all the requested products.
How to integrate and design Cognitive Intelligence