By Bryn Lowry
Supply chain visibility is all about knowing the location and condition of your assets or inventory at any particular point in time as they move through your supply chain from manufacturing, in transit, and all the way to the final destination. The coronavirus has had a dramatic impact on global supply chains, as businesses around the world are now scrambling to recover. Now, the focus is on figuring out how to reduce supply chain risk, improve performance, and proactively identify shortage and quality issues along the supply chain before the next disruption hits.
Resiliency and agility have emerged as mission-critical abilities when overcoming supply chain disruption. Resilience, which refers to the ability of a business to bounce back from a major disruption, should be seen as a continuous project; staying ahead of changing partner/supplier relationships, increasing customer expectations, tariff, and global disruptions requires a commitment to continuously improve your supply chain. According to Frank Jones, former head of Intel’s global supply chain and a member of the Cloudleaf Advisory Board, the first step is to do an honest assessment of your current process, do some third-party benchmarking, and finally, get alignment with your senior executives.
Agility, on the other hand, refers to the ability to adjust quickly and course correct. Supply chain visibility solutions such as Cloudleaf’s Digital Visibility Platform enable improved visibility and analytics across supply chains, from raw materials to manufacturing to finished product delivery. Visibility is the foundation for both resiliency and agility as you need the one true data source for a real-time view into the health of your supply chain.
Real-time monitoring is essential to the pharmaceutical, manufacturing, and food & beverage supply chains. Many companies are “failing” in the sense that they only capture about 20% of visibility into their supply chain. Successful businesses leverage a visibility platform so that they can monitor the location, temperature, and condition of each asset or process in real time. For any data-driven business, the ultimate goal is to get a precise, real-time picture of the supply chain so that they can proactively manage disruptions, mitigate risk, and solve other problems such as customer service issues and lack of inventory.
By collecting the right data from any source, in real time, Cloudleaf illuminates the dark spots in your supply chain, increasing visibility up to 75% – 100%. Cloudleaf provides continuous visibility into the context, condition, timing and location of material and assets throughout your supply chain.
The Importance of Real-Time Information in Supply Chain Management
There are many advantages to having real-time visibility into your supply chain. Here are just a few:
- Identify issues and inefficiencies in your supply chain immediately. For example, Cloudleaf can provide complete visibility and end-to-end, continuous monitoring—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Cloudleaf also gives companies the ability to access data such as inventory dwell times, aging reports, and cycle time metrics to enable proactive monitoring and continuous improvement initiatives.
- Quickly anticipate and respond to problems. Cloudleaf analyzes data streams from across the supply chain to provide real-time details about the location and condition of materials, and to help you anticipate problems before they arise. By combining real-time insights and predictive analytics, you can better serve your customers and gain a competitive advantage.
- Improve customer service. With real-time supply chain data at your fingertips, you are in an excellent position to provide your partners/customers with real-time status information on their shipments.
- Illuminate the dark spots. By having continuous visibility into the context, condition, timing and location of material and assets throughout your supply chain, you’ll be able to identify the dark spots in your supply chain and get more complete data insights to optimize inventory, planning and logistics, and to improve compliance rates.
The Challenges of Managing a Modern Supply Chain
The era of linear, static supply chains is over. Today’s supply chains are digitized, with multiple tiers and suppliers. Dark sports, fragmentation, and inflexibility in modern supply chains can lead to inefficiencies and costly disruptions. With rapidly changing regulations, increasing trade tensions, and economic meltdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, even established supply chains can be upended, especially if they lack end-to-end visibility.
Supply chain transparency is a critical goal for companies, and it required constant evaluation and action. Researchers at the MIT Sloan School of Management found that consumers may be willing to pay 2% to 10% more for products from companies that provide greater supply chain transparency. In another article, Harvard Business Review authors state, “A lack of supply chain transparency can now stop businesses cold.”
Pressure and high expectations come from both businesses and consumers, who want their shipments faster and with greater transparency, a phenomenon known as the “Amazon effect.” To meet these rising expectations, companies need to reinvent their supply chains and invest in a supply chain visibility platform to help them survive and stay competitive in today’s shifting economic reality
Achieving Supply Chain Visibility
Clearly, the importance of supply chain visibility and resiliency has never been more critical. According to a recent Oxford Economics survey of 1,000 supply chain executives, “While no supply chain can ever be fully prepared for and protected from global shocks of the magnitude created by the novel coronavirus, good visibility into all aspects of the supply chain, including suppliers and sub-suppliers, can build resilience and agility to lessen the impact of risk events.” The report emphasizes that when times and supply are uncertain, it’s vital to have near-complete visibility in your supply chain in order to make the right decisions.
Supply chain visibility clearly enables critical decision-making based on real-time cross-company insights from the global value chain. Some actual results include:
- After deploying the Cloudleaf Digital Visibility Platform and adding tracking sensors to all capital assets, a global manufacturer now has a real-time comprehensive digital audit record of all capital assets. By knowing the location, condition and context in real time, and achieving 100% accurate inventory levels nationwide have improved efficiencies and resulted in millions of dollars of savings from limiting asset write-downs.
- Cloudleaf’s solution for a global pharmaceutical company provided end-to-end visibility and condition information of plasma samples, from the arrival at the loading dock, to the pallets, and finally, to the freezer. This resulted in a 50x ROI, $60M value creation, and an increase in their Supply Chain Visibility Index from 20% to 100%.
Agility and resiliency go hand in hand with supply chain visibility, and these mission-critical traits lead to increased operational efficiency, improved collaboration with your partners and suppliers, more control, and faster decision-making as you gain a single view of your supply chain across your entire network.
An IoT-at-scale solution that gives you real-time visibility into your supply chain operations is no longer something that’s “nice to have.” It’s a strategic mandate and a dramatic differentiator that can lead to increased revenue and market share growth. Those companies that are investing in supply chain visibility today will experience dramatic results; not only will they be better prepared for future disruptions, they’ll know what action to take as a result.