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Where Did My Raw Materials Go?

Supply Chain Management
March 22, 2023

In the age before computers, supply chain visibility depended on telephone calls, snail mail, verbal agreements, and even intuition. As technology advanced, these functions were computerized to give supply chain professionals better control over data and information.

But simply computerizing the data wasn’t enough to create seamless visibility. While the information was better organized and accessible, there was still a lot of manual data entry, manipulation, and analysis. Added to those issues was the reality of siloed data and disparate software systems with little to no interoperability.

Why Raw Materials Go Missing

Market volatility continues to plague planners as nearshoring, reshoring, and hybrid supply chain solutions are enacted to cope with ongoing disruption. For many reasons, a manual supply chain system suddenly “loses” raw materials during its journey. Losing visibility for even a short period can cause havoc in manufacturing.

Black Holes

Black holes aren’t just a plot device for a sci-fi movie; they’re also a real problem that can disrupt supply chains. Black holes are areas within the supply chain where information isn’t available.

This missing data may be due to a lack of data sharing between partners, outdated technology, or a disconnect between departments within a company. They often appear when disparate software systems suffer from a lack of interoperability.

Black holes cause gaps in communications and workflows that must be filled in manually if they’re detected at all. Without advanced demand and supply software, companies may miss critical information like shipment updates for raw materials or finished goods.


Voids are areas where data is available but needs to be used more effectively. For example, suppose a company is collecting data on customer demand but not utilizing that data to inform its supply chain decisions. In that case, there is a void in its data management strategy.

Recordkeeping Gaps

In systems with a high degree of manual input, there will always be gaps in recordkeeping. At best, these gaps will cause production delays and higher costs for expediting. At worst, they can result in costly or even dangerous regulatory issues for companies like food and beverage and pharmaceutical production.

The Importance of Software for Supply Chain Visibility

Supply and demand software should integrate unsiloed data from different workstations across the enterprise. It should also strongly focus on security and be able to automatically update orders, work instructions, and regulatory information instantly to prevent errors.

A good visibility platform will also detect and respond to missing, late, or inaccurate events to deliver the best outcomes possible. It should have processes to fill those gaps to achieve accurate end-to-end visibility.

Demand and supply software from Plex DemandCaster links the entire supply chain so you know where everything is and when it will arrive. It creates supply chain visibility so you can track raw material orders, production, and shipments through robust analytics and reporting features. With seamless visibility, you can make informed decisions about your operations, optimize your inventory and flow of goods, and reduce costs.

The Impact of Visibility on Sustainability and Compliance

Companies are increasingly tasked by governments and regulatory authorities to adopt stricter controls to implement ESG in their operations. Supply and demand software helps them build ESG practices and advanced sustainability into their supply chain strategy.

Planners can track where and when their materials are and follow vendor sustainability, so compliance at the point of production need not be remedial. Demand and supply planning software also acts as a control tower to manage transportation and logistics to optimize them to the lowest carbon footprint required to receive them.

There are many upcoming regulations slated for 2023 to enforce tariff compliance and address national security concerns. These regulations will force companies to map their supply chains to account for the origin of all materials and components. With the right software, tracking materials for visibility can be linked with new requirements for the origin of materials.

Using Supply and Demand Software to Build Visibility in Your Operation

Plex DemandCaster demand and supply planning software provides seamless visibility over your supply chain. With robust analytics and automated processes, the platform will enable your team to plan strategically and act tactically.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you achieve visibility, manage sustainability, and end the frustration of “lost” raw materials in your operation.

About the Author

Plex DemandCaster Supply Chain Planning

Plex DemandCaster