COVID-19: Spotlight on Supply Chain Visibility
Never has the need for end-to-end supply chain visibility been clearer than amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Supply chain visibility (SCV)—real-time, end-to-end tracking of parts, components or products from supplier to manufacturer, from manufacturer to wholesaler or distributor, and delivery to the final destination becomes crucial.
SCV becomes more important as companies outsourced parts of their supply chains and lost their control and visibility over what was part of their own operations. The goal of SCV is to improve and strengthen the supply chain. SCV does that by making data readily available to all stakeholders, including the customer, to make the entire supply chain more transparent, more resilient and effective. SCV leverages working capital, improves performance and efficiency, and enables more informed decisions about managing the various aspects of the supply chain.
The technology supporting SCV promotes quick responses to changes by allowing privileged users with accurate, real-time information of demand, inventories, and/or shipments—all of which are required for better supply chain management.
According to techtarget.com “the business case for purchasing supply chain visibility software should focus on easing pain points in a particular business’ supply chain management. For example, the priority for a manufacturer who deals with contract outsourcing might be gaining visibility into interruptions that could affect product delivery, while the priority for a manufacturer of packaged goods might be gaining visibility into supplier inventory shortages that might negatively impact order fill rates.” These two cases are true for many cases, but there are many other examples of how to leverage the real-time, end-to-end advantages of SCV.
Whether it is the President of the United States noting the failures in supply chains today, congressmen appealing to state authorities for implementing new protocols for addressing the short comings of material supplies, or individual companies struggling to keep up with unforeseen demand, these examples emphasize the need for SCV into the current status of these supply chains. Providing visibility requires first connecting the trading partners, aggregating relevant normalized data, and applying analytics to the data collected. Then it requires providing a means to make this visible to all participants in the same instance.
As the COVID-19 fog begins to clear and companies return their focus on how poorly they were prepared for managing any supply chain risk, operations will begin to feel the pain caused by lack of visibility in their supply chains in these past months.
Today’s environment spotlights the significance and importance of supply chain visibility. Analysts covering this space started discussing how companies should find a way to accelerate their investments in SCV technologies and start mobilizing projects to focus on improving their supply chains and associated supply chain management. McKinsey & Company addressed supply chain agility and SCV’s role in its April 2020 article, “Coronavirus and technology supply chains: How to restart and rebuild.” Of note is “Exhibit 4” that speaks to investments in four areas: new data sources, automation, new algorithms, and ubiquitous access. Specifically, the graphic presents the case for end-to-end, real-time SCV using Web and cloud-based applications.
As companies focus on how SCV prepares them for managing supply chain risk, requirements to address shortcomings in current supply chain management solutions will mandate transparency and resilience of an agile supply chain.
Getting to SCV
Activ Technologies offers a platform as a service solution, ActiVate, that addresses the specific requirements to achieve end-to-end, real-time visibility in supply chains. The advantage is that ActiVate addresses the issues of data, automation, new algorithms, and new access in the same solution stack instead of needing multiple investments in various technologies.
Founded on data integration, the transformation to a visible supply chain enables synchronization of forecasts, production, order and inventory management, and logistics in real-time. And that improves operations and service while lowering costs. ActiVate allows painless connectivity with your suppliers, customers, distributors and other trading partners. Then we put the data to work for you—creating a pathway from integration to visibility to synchronization and ultimately to control—enabling a digital supply chain and true Supply Chain Visibility.
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