Today’s supply chains function as a result of extensive research into how a supply chain behaves, its chief concerns, successful risk management, diverse markets, widespread collaboration, and technological advances. However, current supply chains fall victim to the problems of inefficiencies, inexcusable rigidity, and failure to recognize the growing demands of consumers. Some of today’s supply chain service providers have already taken steps to advance supply chain entities into the future; a best in class supply chain will focus on these 7 key areas.

Proactive Use of Big Data

With the onslaught of information on the Internet and its applications, data will prove to be an important aspect of future supply chains. Supply chain service providers and supply chain managers (SCM) will be able to use data to identify inefficiencies, create proposed solutions, and implement such solutions. Furthermore, the use of such data can be applied to creating verifiable forecasts for needs in inventory.

Inventory Optimization

Having too much, or too little, of a given item is detrimental to a supply chain, and research suggests the. Inventory optimization relies on accurate, precise forecasts for needed items. However, it also requires an extensive evaluation and rapid identification of sudden changes in the market, which will impact manufacturing, shipping, and all other aspects of the supply chain process.

Flexibility

As the global economy becomes more interconnected with newer, emerging markets, the number of corporate players within the supply chain will increase. This leads to one ultimate problem: how will more orders be fulfilled at today’s pace? This is where flexibility will become important. Flexibility refers to the ability of the supply chain to adapt to the changes within the market, political climates, and other events, which would otherwise affect the supply chain.

Rapid Fulfillment

The widespread increase in connectivity, particularly through mobile devices, has taught consumers to believe in the power of their voice and demand instant gratification. Obviously, instant transport has not yet been invented, so the alternative remains ensuring orders are processed without error, quickly, and via the fastest method of transport. Tomorrow’s supply chains will need to combine varying methods of transports to gain a competitive advantage to giving consumers their rewards: intricate shipping and tracking details and their products.

Customization

Customization is a tricky aspect of a best in class supply chain. At first glance, it seems most appropriate to define customization as individual ERP systems for each supplier, distributor, or retailer within the supply chain. However, customization refers to how unique supply chain processes may be implemented across the supply chain to provide consumers with what they want. For example, an order of new mobile devices may need to be fulfilled within 24 hours and all appropriate packaging may be manufactured on-site at the shipping facility. Additionally, increases in the number of individual businesses within the supply chain will lead to a more diverse group of products to manufacture and, subsequently, repair. As a result, the service parts supply chain will need to be able to adapt and create customized parts to meet this growing demand. Crowdsourcing venues, such as Kickstarter and GoFundMe, have given ordinary people the power to gather funds to create new products and services, which will also influence the need to ensure customizability is top priority for the supply chain.

Sustainability

Sustainability will be a driving force in a best in class supply chain. The Earth has a finite amount of fossil fuels left, and future supply chains will have no option other than using renewable forms of energy. Some renewable forms of energy to use will depend on the geographic location of the varying aspects of supply chain. However, most areas will be able to benefit from the use of photovoltaic cells to produce energy from sunlight. Other areas may take advantage of volcanic activity in the form of geothermal energy, and other places may enhance technologies to use biodiesel, which comes from the decay of living tissue. Additionally, governments may implement strict requirements for moving toward renewable sources of energy for manufacturers in the coming years. Although some argue this will not happen, consider the recent sunset of the incandescent light bulbs. It started in manufacturing, and it has trickled down to individual homes. The same process will occur with renewable energy resource, and tomorrow’s supply chain leaders will need to be ready to a proactive role.

Compliance and Visibility

The last, and perhaps the most significant, aspect of a best in class supply chain will focus on maintaining compliance and visibility. Compliance involves adherence to any applicable local, state, and federal laws for supply chain entities. However, end-to-end visibility can eliminate all of the potential issues by allowing others to see into the supply chain. Essentially, this equates a way of self-assessment and monitoring of supply chain processes, which lead to greater compliance.

What do you think constitutes a best in class supply chain? Let us know in the comments section below!

History has taught supply chain management organizations one common factor: failure to adjust to societal changes will contribute to business-downfall. In the modern, digital world, the impact of the cloud can be felt in every facet of existence, not just commerce. Cloud computing technology has allowed supply chain management providers to take advantage of a new era of processes, specifically those relating to the ethereal space. Traditionally, supply chain management has relied on physical, in-person processes. Take a look at how cloud computing technology impacts supply chain management concepts.

Advancement in Analytics Capabilities

Previously, analysis of data gathering required both a data entry clerk and a person to conduct data analysis. The cloud, in conjunction with the , has enabled rapid collection of data from various resources and analysis of this data. As a result, businesses can eradicate these former “human” positions in favor a service that performs the same results one an exponentially faster scale. Ultimately, this allows the business to make better decisions for how daily activities behave.

Integration of Multiple Platforms

As more businesses have accessed supply chain management providers, a great deal of platforms have been created to facilitate this change. Unfortunately, many of these platforms do not coexist well with one another. The use of cloud technology s. Therefore, the previously existing digital boundaries between rapid communication and order fulfillment become nonexistent. An example of such binding technology is FlashTrac, Flash Global’s proprietary supply chain management integration system.

Removal of Geographic and Political Boundaries

In close relation to integration of systems, cloud technologies remove physical and political boundaries from the supply chain management perspective. Since many cloud hosts rely on common practices for accessing, storage, and retrieval of cloud data, the same information may be altered from . Furthermore, cloud technology allows for the dissolution of political debates between business practices; although, the rules of governing entities may have the capacity to limit Internet access, such as was seen in Egypt in past years.

Enhanced Security Measures

Since cloud hosts have to abide by strict government and public perception standards for maintaining privacy, such as medical and financial data, cloud technology brings state-of-the-art security measures and practices to the forefront of supply chain management. Interconnectedness allows for massive security monitoring and implementation across all cloud-based digital planes while still maintaining communication and enhancing the flow of business practices.

Increased IT Capabilities

Agreements with cloud providers allow supply chain management providers to eradicate the need for extensive in-house IT departments; although, some minimal in-house IT departments are usually retained for in-house physical IT needs. When in the business of using digital resources, such as those used for e-commerce, a business needs to ensure customers can resolve problems with their system at virtually any time. Therefore, most cloud hosts offer 24/7 support for those using their services, which can be rerouted to correcting issues with your customers without your input if you prefer.

Adjusting to Market Volatility

US manufacturing is no stranger to the damaging effects of market volatility. Less than a decade ago, the US saw the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression, and supply chain management providers must always be wary of how resources will be used in the event of a collapse. The use of cloud technology provides a buffer against market volatility. Essentially, partnerships between a supply chain management provider and a cloud host are subject to renegotiation, or even cancelation, if the market suddenly declines. As a result, the supply chain entity is able to minimize associated costs with the collapse and maintain service at competitive rates.

Increased Scalability Abilities

Since cloud technology insulates supply chain management providers from market volatility, it can also be used to achieve rapid scalability. As a budding business begins to experience higher demand for product, the respective supply chain management provider may need to increase production by factors of five, 10, or more. With each additional order comes the strain of extra bandwidth and processing capability, which cloud technology provides. Within minutes, a supply chain management provider can extend the terms, or services, with the respective cloud host to account for the instant growth in capability. Furthermore, the use of cloud-based analytics allows businesses to isolate key inefficiencies within the order fulfillment process, which will further grow the respective business.

Reduced Costs

The greatest benefit of cloud technology on supply chain management providers is reduced operational costs. Throughout the supply chain, cloud technology can reduce the amount of workers needed to perform specific tasks. For example, the cloud could be used to automatically generate a report of needed product at a specific warehouse, trigger the respective shipment, and account for the product when received at the destination. As a result of minimizing human-input within the order processing, those employees may be then reassigned to other physical aspects of the supply chain. Additionally, supply chain management providers reap the benefits of lower security, IT, data analysis, and more.

As society becomes more dependent on the cloud, more supply chain management providers will come to recognize the role of the cloud in today’s supply chain. When comparing traditional supply chain benefits and processes to the last benefit of cost reduction alone, the lower cost of using cloud technology could easily make up for any potential problem encountered within traditional supply chain management processes.

Agility is needed in an ever-changing market. A supply chain that is transparent with an open uration can accept the changes that the Internet of Things or IoT will bring. This nascent concept will provide faster communications from device to device without human input. Learn more to get ready for the next wave of communications: the supply chain internet of things.

Please Explain…What is the Supply Chain Internet of Things

supply chain internet of thingsis a phrase being coined that refers to a network comprised of “intelligent” devices and sensors that can communicate with each other. IoT promises to provide real-time performance monitoring in a world where machines and applications can self-optimize, self-ure and self-diagnose. The idea seems like a fantasy but look at the Internet of today or even cloud storage. These intangible concepts changed communications and file storage capabilities and methods.

Michael Burkett, managing vice president at Gartner, explains how the IoT devices are being implemented. “Some IoT devices are more mature, such as commercial telematics used in trucking fleets to improve logistics efficiency. Some, such as smart fabrics that use sensors within clothing and industrial fabrics to monitor human health or manufacturing processes, are just emerging.” Looking at the potential now will help an organization create strategies for implementation into current processes. The analyst firm Gartner predicts over 26 billion Internet-connected devices by 2020. Approximately 3.8 billion such devices are believed to be currently in use. The top three industries benefiting from IoT are Manufacturing, Transportation and Utilities, which are all industries ripe to set a solid foundation in the supply chain internet of things.

The Core Benefits of the Internet of Things to a Supply Chain

Organizations can respond promptly to changes with IoT integration into their processes. Undesirable conditions, such as a transportation delay, will do more than set off an alert. Systems can automatically assess priorities, review choices and make problem-solving decisions. Some benefits of additional real data and enhanced intelligent automaticity within the supply chain internet of things are an increase in profits, a reduction in excess product that quickly loses value, faster response to changing client needs or supplier availability, the optimization of shipments and the assurance of complete deliveries.

With IoT, an organization can:

Supply Chain Internet of Things Changes the Face and Methods of Big Business

Companies are harnessing the potential of IoT. Their operations, functionality, services and products offered and real-time feedback regarding customer demand are changing as they accommodate and leverage IoT. Some major changes are underway.

. It is currently selling outcomes-based services to clients, guaranteeing specific, measurable efficiencies through the use of GE’s smart machines, analytics and cloud-aware software platform. GE has changed from providing solely physical assets to offering data.

Domino’s Pizza is remaking their customer service features with technology. The creation of online and mobile ordering service embraces features like a 3-D pizza builder, games, a Pizza Tracker and pizza profiles for their customers.

Retailers are implementing IoT technology. Using Apple’s iBeacon technology, customers receive relevant deals on their smartphones as they walk through different areas in a store. Retailers can change, develop and execute strategies based on real customer preferences and seeing what deals customers respond to and the types of items purchased. These supply chain internet of things technologies provides direct insight into customer demand.

IoT is able to provide pertinent data to end users, create more engagement with customers and use shopping behavior to prompts in real-time to uncover preferences and customer demands. New IOT interfaces and applications allow for more salient information faster with the potential to respond without human input. Built into a supply chain, users will see an with clear timely data at all stages. Supply chains can become more agile and responsive to changing conditions, client preferences, and issues, delivering a higher level of service without sacrificing profit.

Management of More Data

Will the supply chain internet of things become a blessing or a curse? IoT is a tool and the automaticity it provides companies will prove to be an asset if the management tools and internal processes of supply chains can be equipped to handle the change. Obviously, if competitors are using IoT “smart” devices and getting data faster, critical decisions automated and response time shortened, this is going to separate them from the rest of the group and give them an edge in responding to customers and increasing efficiencies within their organization. These agile leaders will gain market share and customer loyalty in highly competitive industries while satisfying the demands of shareholders.

offers a highly customizable open-ended construction that can integrate the IoT across multiple platforms and streamline data, prioritizing information for users and decision-makers. The instantly synchronized global system can be set up and implemented within 45 days. Be ready for IoT with FlashTrac.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest blog post from end-to-end global supply chain services company, Flash Global. The company focuses on high tech industries such as telecome, data storage, data centers, bio-medicine, and any company who needs supply chain visibility and proactive supply chain services for replacement parts and more. We are excited to feature this company as they deal in the fast moving world of complex global supply chain solutions. As a transportation management 3PL ourselves, we find it very interesting to come across other companies, also referred to as a 3PL, who offer services that require a lot of focus and attention to several moving parts. In the LTL world, where we specialize, this is also true. Both of our companies service our clients with a backbone of proprietary technology and make a difference through our people and services. We hope you enjoy!

Big Data and Supply Chain Analytics Offering Benefits of Continual Improvements and More….

Big data is more useful than many people fully realize. That being said, there are a few different ways that big data can be used to help optimize supply chains for a wide range of companies. These seven solutions can help any business visualize how big data can help make their supply chains more efficient and better optimized to increase their bottom line.

  1. big data supply chain optimizationPlanning and Scheduling– planning and scheduling are perhaps the most important part of any supply chain. So much money can be lost or expended with scheduling and planning and with big data you can truly optimize this process. With the use of big data you can gain so that you know where your items are at all times, you can also attain high-quality decision support which can be crucial if something goes wrong a split second decision does not have to go without support.
  2. Improved Responsiveness– this is another factor that can truly be helpful. You can manage the uncertain times of year that come when seasons for certain items come and go. This can also help you decide how to manage new items that are new to your business or to your inventory. This means that you can predict what is going on in a way so that you can better determine what items to buy, what items to forgo, and what items you need more of. This is very important and can help you to truly determine what items you need to include in your supply chain.
  3. Improved Demand Planning– still another benefit is that you can really predict and meet demand. With big data, you can predict and determine what items are going to be needed as it pertains to demand. You can see what items are selling well, what items did not sell well, and so much more making it possible to forgo getting items that you may not even end up being able to use or sell.
  4. Order Optimization– optimize the items you are ordering and the ordering process overall. You can improve the number of orders that are on time, minimize the cost of getting items to you, and really make sure that you have what you ordered when you order it. This means that you can truly have the best experience possible without having to worry about it something is going to be on time or late.
  5. Supply Chain Execution in Real Time– You can so that you can be sure everything is going smoothly. You do not have to worry about where items are, what they are doing or if you need to make changes. Being able to use big data can make a huge difference and can help you keep your items coming in when they need to be as opposed to having to guess where items are and guess if they are going to arrive on time. You can now see where items are, check the status of shipments, and so much more making this a crucial tool for those that want a hands on look at their supply chain.
  6. Inventory Planning and Development– this is another benefit as big data allows users to plan, forecast, and so that they do not waste space or waste money with items that may or may not be working the way they should. You can in effect look across networks to consider consumption rates, inventory levels, and other aspects of your supply chain so that you can make sure you get what you need at all times no matter what. This is great for companies that work with larger amounts of cargo and have issue with receiving too little or too much.
  7. Replenishment Planning– You can see where more items are needed, see levels of inventory, look across the network of your trading partners as well as in your own inventory and so much more. You no longer have to wait and see if something has been used up and needs to be replenished and you do not have to depend on automatic replenishment that may not be needed on the schedule that has been determined. Instead, you can set up a replenishment plan that works for you and that is going to do all that you need it to.

All of these factors make using big data valuable. Instead of having to depend fully on what you can see, you can predict, use data from past operations, and so much more to make sure that you have the items you need when you need them. This type of analytics can help save you time and save you money and can really help streamline the process overall and make for a much smoother and easier transition. This type of data can also help you keep better track of records and of previous shipments and orders so you can see what you need in the future. This type of data can be used for a wide range of businesses making it highly valuable and useful.

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