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A handshake, a phone call, a fax, or an email. Put the results of these communications into a spreadsheet, and the ship sails. While this paradigm of supply chain management was long the standard model, disruption, the new challenges of the global economy, and technology have rendered it obsolete.
Yet many companies retain pieces of this methodology. Despite technological advances, many still use spreadsheets, human analysis, and “gut feeling” to plan for demand and supply. But for those ready to move forward, technology has a significant impact on the supply chain that cannot be ignored.
We need only look at the significant disruptions of the last few years to understand that we live in different times. Already a complex endeavor, trade wars, tariffs, COVID-19, congested ports, and labor shortages have made supply chain management even more challenging.
For companies already automating their supply chain management, the question is how much and how fast. They may have automated some processes while others remain siloed and lagging in accuracy due to dated material and timed-out data. Others are still using spreadsheets to manage supply chains.
But for all these examples, leveraging technology makes sense. While previous years consisted of expensive on-premise software, limited server capacity, and costly licensing contracts, today’s technology in planning software is subscription-based, affordable, flexible, and agile. Then, the question is not why it makes sense to use technology in SCM, but why anyone would not want to do so.
There are several key benefits to using supply chain management technology:
Having “most” of what is needed for production in today’s hypercompetitive world is not enough. Supply chain management technology provides end-to-end visibility for supply chain processes and builds confidence in production managers that what they need will be there when they need it.
Inventory can make or break manufacturing and distribution companies. Too little and production can’t keep up with demand, so customer sales are lost. Too much and extra costs start piling up. Inventory is vital because WIP can impact taxes and cash flow. And if too much working capital is tied up with inventory, a company can again lose orders through lost capacity. Supply chain management technology allows companies to utilize deep analytics to optimize inventory and make decisions to streamline cash flow.
Because technology and automation for the supply chain utilize real or near real-time data, companies have greater visibility and can track activities better. This helps improve collaboration and communication with key vendors and reduces cost through better vendor contract management.
With the acceleration of e-commerce in the wake of COVID-19, companies are shifting to digital technology to manage order positions. The increase in order velocity and consumer expectations mean that supply chain planning must match delivery, ensuring production is optimized according to demand.
With new advances made every year, it may be hard to sort out their impact on supply chain planning. To make it easier, these specific technologies can make a big difference when combined with supply chain planning software.
With the rapid adoption of full digitization of production underway, IIoT technology offers real-time and accurate monitoring of production conditions. Connected devices throughout manufacturing deliver data immediately to the system and to connected supply chain management software, aligning response time in the supply chain to real-time requirements.
AI has proven to be a game-changer in manufacturing. Combined with advanced analytics platforms, these systems offer actionable insights to improve efficiency and processes. These platforms can be linked to supply chain management software to deliver the same results as other areas.
As AI increases production capability, the need for more agile supply chain management will increase yet again. Robotic automation can be tied directly to inventory, order fulfillment, shipping, and other functions that feed data to the supply chain management software.
Rather than existing in parallel or in contrast to supply chain management, these new advances in technology complement an already deep and robust supply chain management platform such as that offered by Plex DemandCaster.
With powerful solutions that drive demand and supply planning, distribution requirements planning, inventory optimization, and more, DemandCaster can work with your deployed technology to deliver transparency and value to supply chain managers. Our end-to-end visibility and powerful demand analytics mesh well with emerging technologies to help you better understand demand and develop forecasts with confidence.