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Success with Suppliers: How to Ensure Your Partner & Supplier Network Meets Your Quality Standards

Artificial Intelligence, Digital Transformation
February 7, 2024

In most industries, product quality is a primary factor determining whether businesses are successful or not. Of course, there are many things that impact product quality, from quality leadership to employee talent to company culture. All of those apply in the manufacturing sector, but manufacturers also depend heavily on their partner and supplier networks to build good products that their customers love.

Ensuring supplier networks perform with accuracy, precision and efficiency is essential to running a global manufacturing business. Manufacturers can’t build good products without good components and materials. They can’t distribute products on time if they’re waiting on materials from suppliers. Furthermore, they can’t do any of the above if they don’t have strong relationships with suppliers and partners.

With changing global regulations, shifting supply bases, and evolving consumer demands, the supply network is rapidly becoming more complicated. So how can you improve its performance against this backdrop of rising complexity? The answer is traceability.

Traceability is Key to Improving Supplier Networks

Modern traceability infrastructure leverages data and accelerated analytics to monitor, track and trace every single product component throughout the entire supply chain journey, from start to finish. It gives manufacturers the capabilities and visibility to manage and optimize supply networks. Manufacturers gain real-time insights into every aspect of the supply chain. With those insights, they can ensure all their raw materials and components meet their quality and compliance standards, while expediting their flow through the supply chain. Moreover, manufacturers can minimize risk in their supply chains by understanding where materials are coming from and how global changes, single-sourcing or other constraints could negatively impact product delivery.

And it’s the big business benefits like mitigating risks that make traceability so valuable. In addition to optimizing product quality and supply chain speed, these insights allow manufacturers to avoid disruptions. Let’s consider an example in the food and beverage industry. Think of a soda company that’s recently been receiving substandard aluminum. With traceability, they would be able to easily identify the specific supplier that’s been sending them the poor material. Then they could remedy the issue by demanding the supplier resend better aluminum, or quickly pivot to another supplier altogether. The manufacturer can communicate any possible product delays to their retail customers.

Digital Threads Enable Modern Traceability

The basic concept of traceability has existed for decades. But in the past, it involved manual tracking, physical auditing, and meticulous paperwork trails documenting an item’s path through the supply chain. This of course was a very cumbersome, error-prone process, limiting the insights a company could even get from their supply chain.

As better technology became available, many of these tasks were automated. Yet, the process flow of automation followed that of production. Siloed data, lack of interoperability between software programs, and a lot of residual manual data entry and report reconciliation still left gaps.

Digital threads are the building blocks that give organizations today fully automated, comprehensive traceability. Digital threads connect business processes, systems, products and equipment through a seamless, integrated flow of data from sensors and connected devices. This data tells a story of every raw good – from its design to its creation to its delivery to your plant. Digital threads are a living, real-time record of the evolution of your entire value chain – from customer insights to product design, from factory to end user – providing visibility into their past, present and future.

Better Products, Happier Customers

Traceability is the best way to ensure your partner and supplier are providing you quality, compliant raw materials and delivering them quickly. It helps identify risk and holes in your supply chain before they take a toll on your business. This ultimately enables manufacturers to build better products and avoid costly disruptions. That means happier customers – the most important objective of any successful business.

Manufacturers across the world have used Plex’s traceability and Digital Thread technology to optimize supply chain operations and deliver quality, timely products. Check out our new Quality Management for Dummies eBook to find out how this technology can help your manufacturing business. Also, go here to learn about how Plex’s Manufacturing Execution System provides traceability and other valuable capabilities. 

About the Author

Anthony Murphy Vice President; Head of Product Management, Application Group

Anthony is Vice President and head of Product Management for the Application group and is responsible for Plex's core customer facing products such as ERP, MES, and QMS. Prior to Plex, Anthony worked in manufacturing, holding a variety of roles across functions such as IT and software development, Logistics, Operations, and General Management. He has a deep passion for manufacturing and Plex's customers and engaging with them to solve key problems and deliver competitive advantages.