When did having a grasp on the logistics of moving goods from place to place within a given schedule become a job in the computer department? The answer is that what we know as our network of supply chain, transportation contacts and ordering systems has become permanently global, and much, much faster. These systems are becoming more integrated, synchronized and interactive! You are not in IT, but you sure are going to be using all of their tools.
According to “Manufacturing & Logistics IT”, at the recent Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) annual conference, Sterling Commerce announced the findings of a new independent survey of manufacturing and logistics executives. Overall, respondents were cautious about the economic environment and focused on the risks associated with loss of customer relationships. To minimize that risk, manufacturers plan to invest in "smart network" capabilities that include collaborative risk sharing, supply chain synchronization, and secure B2B commercial interactions.
"Manufacturers know they need to be faster to new markets, to innovate with new products and to deliver on order commitments, but they also have to have very lean, agile supply chains," said Richard Douglass, global manufacturing and logistics industry executive, Sterling Commerce. "Building a smarter dynamic business network is at the center of addressing these challenges, and this survey highlights that manufacturers face a number of obstacles in the collaboration needed for that network. They have identified both customer demand and supplier risks as key information black holes, further complicated by the fact that much of their collaboration both upstream with suppliers and downstream with customers is still very ad hoc and manual." Survey findings included:
- 82 per cent indicated that managing volatile demand, specifically unexpectedly accelerating or decelerating demand, would be a priority in 2011.
- The most prominent information "black hole" among companies was real-time demand followed by supplier issues/problems.
A continued reliance on manual processes for both customer and supply chain collaboration hampers companies' ability to manage volatile demand and gain real-time demand signals. The survey found:
- For both customer and supplier collaboration, half the respondents still use manual processes for monitoring changes, exceptions and disruptions.
- For customer collaboration, 24 percent of implemented automated processes for "visibility of order and shipment status" and 18 percent had done the same for "visibility of inventory and demand of their key customers' customers"
- For supplier collaboration, "visibility of order and shipment status" was implemented as a highly automated process for 24 percent of respondents.
To address these black holes supply chain volatility in 2011 they will implement precise, automated solutions to reduce risk, including:
- Supply chain synchronization solutions to provide seamless customer experience from the moment an order is placed, via any channel, to its ultimate fulfillment.
- Risk sharing solutions like vendor managed inventory and available-to-promise capabilities that give them precise views of inventory at multiple levels in the supply chain. Process management and analytics solutions that enhance multi-enterprise process management. (Supply chain analytics and automated B2B integration.)
- Secure network solutions that protect sensitive data and intellectual property
- Cloud computing continues to be an area of investment. Six in ten decision-makers are currently implementing cloud solutions.
Are you ready for this? Get automated, accurate, seamless, and automatic, and get the business!
By K.B. Elliott
K. B. Elliott is a freelance writer for LogisticsJobSite.com. Working various logitical positions in the Detroit area for over 30 years gives him a unique perspective on the process. To read more of his blogs, please go to LogisticsJobSiteblog.com, and be sure to check out the postings for jobs in nearly any industry at Nexxt.