Ensuring Supply Chain Success During and After COVID-19Companies are facing significant hurdles since the onset of COVID-19, especially in their supply chains—here are the steps they should be taking to ensure supply chain success.

COVID-19 took everyone by surprise. In its wake business operations of all kinds have been disrupted. The supply chain in particular has shown its vulnerabilities and its need to change. With that said, it critical for supply chain managers not to be reactionary. Supply chains must change to adapt to the reality they currently face, however, they should also be ready for what’s to come down the line.

As such, it’s up to managers to take the kinds of action that will not only help their supply chains survive and thrive during this pandemic but also prepare them for whatever other disruptions or challenges that may yet come. After all, in a landscape that is broad and often unpredictable, myopic decision making can be catastrophic

This ebook presents the measures companies should be implementing in order to make sure they’re successful during the pandemic and for years to come.

What Should Supply Chain Managers be Doing to Beat the Pandemic?

morai_ebook-COVID-supply-chain--cover-page

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? Interested in our 3rd party logistics services? If so, don’t hesitate to check out our services . We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Top Technology Trends - Supply Chain 2020 – Part 2In the year of the pandemic, technology is more important than ever for supply chains—here are four more technological trends to pay attention to in 2020.

Supply chain technology comes in many forms. Last week’s article covered four of the most prominent technology trends this year as outlined by Gartner. It showed just how diverse and varied the technological landscape is for supply chains. As more and more is asked of them—these demands having only been exacerbated by the onset of the COVID-19 crisis—the more sophisticated they have to be. As such, previously overlooked components of supply chains success, such as virtual reality, are now coming to the fore.

An article from earlier this year by Supply Chain 24/7 highlights the multifaceted demands placed upon supply chains in 2020,

The supply chain technology trends for 2020 reflect the growing demands for more service, more value, faster shipping, cheaper shipping, and an unrelenting pace to predict what’s going to happen next.

This article by Morai Logistics covers four more technology trends outlined by Gartner, what they are, and why they’re important.

Edge Computing and Analytics

Some technological trends mark a paradigm shift. That is very much the case with edge computing. Edge computing is a form of computing where the data that is processed is close to where the data comes from. Essentially, it comes down to proximity. Companies are currently operating in the era of the cloud. Where the data that is computed is data coming from one of only a handful of major cloud providers.

Edge computing changes that, allowing the data to travel a much shorter distance. Consequently, a whole host of benefits correspond with this change. These include greater data processing speed, higher online security, cost cutting, and more.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence. The technology that has seemingly been a trend for many years and will continue to be for many years to come. AI and its many subsets (such as machine learning) offer a wide spectrum of possibilities for companies. An example of one of its many uses is that it empowers companies to more easily decipher the vast amount of data they gather.

With the primacy of big data in the supply chain, it’s easy to see how just this single use is so important. The same is true for many others. As such, many of these technologies have already become an integral part of supply chains. Yet, their many applications and progressive iterations means they’ll remain significant for a long time still.

5G Networks

The long-hyped 5G technology is closer to a reality than ever. 5G marks the next step in internet speed, significantly improving upon the data speed currently experienced. Thus, it has obvious advantages for the supply chain. Some of these advantages being reduced latency and greater real-time visibility. However, it’s worth noting that 5G implementation is still a little ways away and has only been further delayed by the pandemic. Hence, whether it remains a viable technology trend this year is in question.

Immersive Experience

Supply chain professionals are always looking for new ways to improve upon their supply chains. Immersive experience technology presents such an opportunity. It’s a broad term under which augmented, virtual, and mixed reality fall. In short, it refers to any technology that attempts to present the physical world digitally. This type of technology can go a long way for workers within the supply chain. This is because it allows them to learn or train their onsite skills in the safety of a virtual world.

Top Technology Trends - Supply Chain 2020 - Part 1Supply chain technology is in a state of constant advancement, especially this year, given the circumstances—here are four of the biggest tech trends in 2020.

Gartner recently identified 8 technology trends for supply chains in 2020. Given the pandemic currently taking place and what an impact its having on supply chains, it’s more important than ever for companies to stay abreast of the latest and greatest in tech. However, it’s not enough for new technologies to simply be promising or have considerable potential to elevate supply chains. For a technology trend to be worth paying attention to the technology has to be in a place to make an impact now.

The Gartner article in question said as much when addressing its findings,

Gartner analysts have selected strategic supply chain technology trends that have a high potential for positive impact on people, performance and industries. Some are now reaching critical tipping points in capability and maturity.

This article by Morai Logistics covers four of the eight technology trends outlined by Gartner, what they are and why they’re important.

Hyperautomation

Automation has long been an undeniable force in the world of supply chains. Yet, there’ve been understandable concerns with its wholesale adoption. One such concern lies in the displacement of human workers. Another is the discarding of older legacy systems, leading to a lack of continuity between the new and the old. Hyperautomation is a way to bridge that gap and address those concerns.

It’s the process of connecting older technologies with the new. Think of older legacy platforms versus technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning. Hyperautomation is an approach to getting the best of both worlds, resulting in a truly integrated system that is minimally disruptive. Moreover, it allows for the preservation of a human workforce as they can be augmented by newer technology rather than replaced by it.

Digital Supply Chain Twin

As supply chains get larger and more complex, it’s as critical as it’s ever been to keep track of them. A huge part of getting greater oversight of a supply chain is through digitizing it. That way, it can be followed in real-time and a have a trail of data running through it.

With that said, there’s a way to go even further. That next step is being able to visualize the supply chain from end to end. That’s what digital twin brings to the table. It is a digital replication of the physical supply chain. Consequently, it marks the next step for intelligent decision-making.

Continuous Intelligence

Being able to access quality information in real-time within a supply chain means faster decision-making. Not only that, but decision-making that doesn’t suffer the usual pitfalls that come with speed. In the fast paced world of supply chain, where response time is the difference between a satisfied customer and an angry one, that is crucial.

This is what continuous intelligence is able to do. It enables supply chain leaders to see data that has already been processed in as close to real-time as possible. As such, supply chain leaders can utilize it for responsivity that was hitherto impossible.

Supply Chain Governance and Security

Finally, there’s supply chain governance and security. Unlike some of the previous trends mentioned, this doesn’t refer to a specific technology. Instead, it’s a general trend that has found solutions in technology. It’s a response to the growing concerns around cybersecurity and privacy.

As Christian Titze, vice president analyst with the Gartner Supply Chain Practice explains in the Gartner article,

Gartner anticipates a wave of new solutions to emerge for supply chain security and governance, especially in the fields of privacy as well as cyber and data security … Think advanced track-and-trace solutions, smart packaging and next-gen RFID and NFC capabilities.

The New Normal - 5 Ways Supply Chains are Reshaping ThemselvesSupply chains have undergone extreme change in response to the pandemic these past few months—here’s what they’re set to look like going forward.

It’s hard to overstate the impact COVID-19 has had on supply chains. It has brought risk to numerous processes within them, particularly in warehousing. Moreover, it has made certain areas of sourcing as well as supplies inaccessible or unreliable. Equally, it’s called into question the very shape of the modern supply chain. It’s demanded acceleration in some aspects of the chain and a step backwards in others.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights several ways in which supply chains are transforming in response to the pandemic.

Regional Supply Chains

With global supply chains breaking down due to the impediments that come with COVID, supply chain leaders are looking to adapt to a regional model. This is because many of these impediments are coming by way of companies’ reliance on China. As such, companies are now looking for regional independence in their supply chains.

A CNBC article from earlier this year, covering a EIU report explains,

“By building quasi-independent regional supply chains in the Americas and Europe, a global company will provide a hedge against future shocks to their network,” the EIU said. “For those companies that have this luxury already, they have been able to shift production of key components from one region to another as lockdowns and factory closures resulting from coronavirus have unfolded.”

Sourcing Diversification

While most companies aren’t going to outright abandon China, the sensible ones will look to not have sole sourcing dependency on them. It comes down companies wanting to have options in case of future emergencies such as this one. They don’t want to be once again stuck and scrambling for a path ahead. Thus, the “China + 1” approach has gained a great deal of traction. It gives companies the ability to still benefit from Chinese sourcing while having the flexibility to pivot.

Increased Storage

Although this won’t necessarily be a long-term trend, for now at least, shippers will require more storage. With many carriers having cancelled their shipments, leading to a much higher proportion of blank sailings than before. Put more simply: wherever demand has been negatively impacted, inventory needs to be stored.

As Supply Chain Dive’s post with Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griffith Lynch emphasizes,

Shippers will, in the short term, need ports and carrier partners that are able to provide extra storage, he said. Much of the warehouse space available throughout the U.S. is being absorbed by e-commerce customers that have seen a significant increase in business since the pandemic, he continued.

Focus on Collaboration

The value of strong supplier relationships has never been more apparent than it is now. More than ever before, there needs to be mutual trust and understanding between supply chain leaders and their suppliers. In an uncertain supply chain landscape where demand can rapidly change and hindrances can spring up in any section of a chain, it’s critical for those running them to be working in unison with their suppliers so they are able to anticipate and address any possible risks. What’s more, this additional consolidation of information will only make the supply chain as a whole run more smoothly and efficiently.

Digitization

There’s been a considerable focus on resilience following this pandemic. Rightfully so. Supply chains need to be robust enough to weather whatever comes their way. Central to achieving this for many companies has been digital transformation. Through going digital, companies have been able to address many of the factors necessary for resilience.

Via digitization, companies have been able to make their supply chains more transparent, integrated, collaborative, proactive, agile, visible, and so on. By giving themselves access to the best technologies available, companies are putting themselves in the best position to handle uncertainty.

Disruption - COVID-19 vs. Regular Supply Chain DisturbancesSupply chains are experiencing significant disruption as a result of COVID-19, but how does this disruption compare with others? 

If these last few months have shown anything, it’s that COVID-19 has not been a regular disruption for supply chains. Supply chains, even very well prepared ones, are going to face impediments every once in a while. They are something to anticipate and quickly overcome. This pandemic hasn’t simply been a singular obstacles to address.

It’s something supply chains have had to contend with for months and continue to wrestle with now. However, the supply chain fallout from COVID-19 shares many factors from more common disturbances supply chains face. Thus, it’s worth looking at the issues organizations have had these last few months and to compare and contrast them to what issues they’d otherwise face.

This article by Morai Logistics covers several ways in which this pandemic differs in how it impacts supply chains from usual disruptions.

Location Specific vs. Global

An important way in which COVID diverges from more common disruption is that it’s not limited by region. Typically, a single area is impacted by some sort of event. For example, if a supply chain is temporarily stymied by some extreme weather event. Managers of that supply chain can reliably know how great the area being disrupted is. Whether it’s a flooding or a hurricane or an ice storm, the reach of weather events tend to be contained to a city or country or region.

That is not so for COVID-19. Being a pandemic, its harmful effects extend all across the globe. There isn’t a single event or issue for an organization to wait out, address, or work around. COVID-19 is affecting everyone and, as a result, its an ongoing struggle for supply chains to deal with.

Supply and Demand

The next point of difference between this pandemic and other supply chain impediments is how it hits supply and demand. Commonly, when a supply chain breaks down due to whatever reason, it leads to their supply not being able to meet their demand. Their customers want something, but due to some disruption, their supply is damaged and is unable to meet that want. This pandemic has flipped that outcome as it has changed (both increased and decreased) demand.

On one hand, consumers, many of their livelihoods affected, are willing to spend less than before, obviously decreasing demand. On the other, with so much having been closed during various lockdowns around the world, demand for goods online has shot up. Of course, these differences don’t universally hold true, they are simply common enough to be noticeable. Regular disruptions can impact demand and COVID-19 has also hurt supply.

Timeline

Finally, one more considerable distinction between disruption via COVID-19 vs. others is the the timeline around it. Normally, a organization can get a sense of how long the obstacle they’re facing will persist. Or, how long it will take them to work around it. There is no such sense of time with this pandemic. It’s been at play for months and will continue to be for months (if not longer) to come.

As this Supply Chain 24/7 article articulates,

For most disruptions, the term is limited – or is at least quantifiable. For example, most disasters see short-term demand for rescues or emergency services immediately after an event. However, the term for COVID-19 is relatively unknown. We have seen a significant spike in the demand for hospital beds and ventilators, and social distancing is working in some areas to keep the number of infections below the system capacity. While most large disruptions have a defined short- or medium-term that can be fairly accurately predicted, the term for a global pandemic is long and uncertain.

The USMCA - What is it and What Does it Mean for Supply Chains?The United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is set to go into effect July 1st—what is it and what does it mean for supply chains?

With so much happening in the world, it would be easy to forget that a hugely consequential trade agreement is less than a week away from being entered into force. Starting July, the USMCA will be implemented, bringing change to the movement of goods across the North American continent. Companies will now have to adapt to the regulations brought on by the agreement, but having had two years to prepare for it and probably benefitting from the security it brings to supply chain planning, many will welcome them with open arms.

As an article by Spend Matters pointed out back when the the agreement was finalized,

Trade negotiators on Sunday finalized the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, a new pact that will replace NAFTA. After about two years of turmoil, the deal was welcome news for supply chain professionals because it removed uncertainty from their planning processes. “Glad it’s done — now what does it look like and how to optimize our bottom line and mitigate any ongoing risk,” said Greg Schlegel, founder of the Supply Chain Risk Consortium.

This article by Morai Logistics explains what the USMCA is and what impact it will have on supply chains going forward.

What is the USMCA?

Dubbed “The New NAFTA” or “NAFTA 2.0”, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement is a free trade agreement between the United States of America, Mexico, and Canada. It is the result of a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). It heavily focuses on the automobile, agricultural, and steel & aluminium sectors. And as a result of the agreement, the companies across North America most significantly effected were those in the agriculture and automobile industries.

What’s Going to Change?

While the USMCA isn’t radically different than previous trade agreements or other agreements that were in the works, it does have some notable differences. Perhaps the most prominent has to do with automobiles. Auto manufacturers now have to ensure three-quarters or more of each of their vehicles are being built in North America. That is even more than NAFTA. That having a requirement in the low 60’s. Thus, to avoid tariffs, North American companies will have to reduce offshoring even more.

Additionally, the agricultural market will be changed going forward. Perhaps most notable will be the relative openness of Canadian agriculture. Canada’s dairy and egg & poultry markets will no longer be as heavily regulated. American and Mexican farmers will have better access to them as a result.

What’s Remaining the Same?

Steel & aluminium will continue to be taxed at 10% by the United States. These tariffs mark the same stance by the U.S. vis-a-vis Canadian steel imports as before.

Similarly, the textile market will also be untouched by this agreement. The restrictions upon the market weren’t strict before and will remain lenient now.

What Does it all Mean?

It’s hard to say exactly how significantly these changes in rules and regulations will influence these various markets. But regardless, supply chains across the continent will be feeling its impacts for better or worse. Like with any agreement, there will be winners and losers. Canadian agriculture might suffer somewhat, for example. However, both Canadian and American automobile should prosper.

A post by ThomasNet highlights some other issues that arise from this agreement to keep an eye on,

For instance, will rising wages accelerate the adoption of automation? Will U.S. farmers continue to produce a surplus of dairy products despite waning demand? And how will the USMCA impact other trade negotiations, particularly between the U.S. and China?

Supply Chain Strategy - Navigating an Uncertain EconomyWith the economy experiencing historic trouble, it’s up to supply chain managers to plan for an uncertain future and secure their supply chain for whatever may come.

After months of dealing with a pandemic, the economy has taken a serious hit. What’s more, it’s hard to tell how long it’ll remain depressed. On top of that, there’s the added factor of uncertainty. Perhaps the worst of this pandemic is over, our economies will continue to open up gradually and everything will be back on track sooner than later. On the other hand, a second wave of COVID-19 might come, pandemic measures might be put back in place, and the economy might once more struggle.

All of this is not to promote pessimism but rather to present some possibilities of what the future has to hold for the economy. With an acceptance of these possibilities, there’s the chance at empowerment. In the face of uncertainty, it’s up to organizations to be proactive. To ready their supply chains for whatever’s to come. So that they can be comfortable and confident in the fact that come rain or sunshine, they’re good to go.

This article by Morai Logistics highlights several steps supply chain mangers should be looking to employ in order to prepare their supply chains for the future.

Review Suppliers

Many suppliers are in a tough position. Many of their preexisting contracts will be useless and their customers will want to renegotiate. Moreover, they’ll experience a notable decrease in demand from them. It’s critical for companies to then review their suppliers and strengthen their relationships with the ones that survive that review. Key to this is building trust and openness. Which, in turn, can lead to collaborative risk assessment.

As an article by Supply Chain 24/7 puts it,

Companies that have already invested in creating transparent, high-trust relationships with suppliers, and that put in place supply chain risk monitoring systems, are already reaping benefits. Others must now redouble efforts to reassess risks within their supply base and work jointly with suppliers to develop and implement risk mitigation strategies.

Renegotiate Supplier Agreements

With the market having changed so drastically so quickly, companies will have to look at their contracts with their suppliers. If there is a possibility of renegotiation, they should pursue it. However, what they almost certainly should not do is try to force their supplier’s hand.

Acting in bad faith and not receiving their supplier’s delivery while pursuing a price decrease is not the way to go. Instead, companies need to work with their suppliers for an equitable new contract. While it’s important to act quickly and deliberately, it’s just as important for companies to maintain strong relationships with their partners.

Reinforce Supply Chain Resilience

Now more than ever, the areas of weakness within a company’s supply chain are being exposed. It’s up to companies to review their supply chain, analyze it, and shore up its most vulnerable links. Not only will such a review be useful now, but it will generally prove beneficial going forward.

As explained in the previously mentioned Supply Chain 24/7 post,

During periods of growth, many companies find themselves moving too fast to carefully analyze their supply chains and eliminate suppliers that add little value or introduce unnecessary risk. Now is the time to scrutinize distributors and brokers, and aggressively pursue dis-intermediation.

Collaborate

It’s already become a common theme in this article, and there’s a good reason for that. Without working hand in hand with their suppliers—their partners—companies will only experience further disruption and turmoil down the line. Now is not the time to be short-sighted and narrow-minded. Companies with a vision know they have to build healthy, long-lasting relationships for success. Especially in times of hardship. Through a more transparent, collaborative relationship, supply chains will find it easier to spot risks and areas of cost reduction.

How to Reduce Waste in the Supply ChainWaste reduction is more important that ever in the modern supply chain—here are several ways to go about it.

This week our friends from the Compactor Management Company are contributing to our blog. The Compactor Management Company is a company that “has been providing all types of businesses with industrial trash and garbage compactors and balers.” They provide this service to businesses “in an effort to reduce their monthly garbage bills and generate the highest rates of recycling revenue.” Given their knowledge of waste management, we were more than happy to accept their proposed blog post. So, with further ado, here is their guest blog on material handling.

With the ever-increasing competition in the global market, it is natural for manufacturers and suppliers to focus on practices that yield high output at minimized costs. However, while employing practices to save cost and increase productivity, many companies fail to tap into benefits that effective waste reduction techniques offer. 

Not only does waste reduction keep the environment clean. It also creates new revenue streams, improves operational efficiency, helps businesses remain compliant, and improves brand image. So, here are a few ways businesses can reduce waste in the supply chain. 

Examine Product Design

Before the production process begins, examine the product design and identify the raw materials that may result in a lot of waste. After that, figure out if those raw materials can be replaced with materials that cost lesser and are less wasteful. By examining the product design, you can also decrease the amount of excess raw material and the use of hazardous material. Do both of these things to lower the quantity of waste generated. 

Review the Production Process

Who better to identify process inefficiencies than the production staff? So, talk to your staff and gather information on how waste material can be minimized. Moreover, brainstorming with the production staff may help you understand how to eliminate or replace materials that cannot be recycled. 

This will not only give the staff control over their job but will also motivate them to add value to the overall objective. 

Create a Preventive Maintenance Schedule

Wear and tear is normal in any production process. But excess wear and tear of the machines can lead to increased waste production. So, ensure that the machines are kept in good shape by having a regular maintenance schedule in place. This would not only reduce the waste produced but will also reduce the breakdown prevention costs and prove more beneficial for the budget. 

Practice Closed-Loop Manufacturing

A closed-loop manufacturing system helps you keep track of the inventory and utilize the recycled materials as raw materials in the production cycle. This system conserves the resources and also diverts waste from landfills. Also, in addition to reducing manufacturing wastage, a closed-loop system helps businesses lower their production costs.  

Put Quality Control in Place

If the supply chain lacks quality control, the waste production can go beyond the tolerable amount. Defective raw materials can affect the whole production process and result in more waste. Moreover, without a quality check, the final products can turn out to be defective and are more likely to be returned by the end-user. And even if the rejected product is recyclable, the cost of recycling it would be higher. 

Reduce Packaging Materials

Packaging produces a lot of waste. Hence, review the packaging design and analyze how you can minimize the use of packaging material. Focus on incorporating recyclable packaging material such as corn-based packing peanuts, air packs, paper and cardboard, biodegradable plastic, etc. 

Though waste reduction should be of great importance in a supply chain, how the waste is treated plays a significant role too. Hence, you must consider lucrative processing of scrap material through industrial balers. 

An industrial baler is the most sustainable solution that handles waste by compacting it and making it into small bales or bundles. Moreover, balers are designed to help businesses conveniently sort waste materials and prevent contamination of the waste. Other benefits of an industrial baler include: 

  • Savings on landfill tax and other disposal costs
  • Freed up space for other purposes
  • Improved health and safety at the premises
  • Extra revenue from recycling companies

Each level in the supply chain offers plenty of opportunities to reduce waste. So, start creating monthly and weekly reports to compare and identify ways to better the waste reduction process. 

Author Bio

Erich Lawson is very passionate about the environment and is an advocate of effective recycling. He writes on a wide array of topics. He informs his readers on how modern recycling equipment can be used by industries to reduce monthly wastage bills and increase recycling revenue. You can learn more about environment saving techniques by visiting his blog on Compactor Management Company.

Intelligent Supply Chain - 5 Reasons to Make the MoveSupply chains are are being forced to transform faster than ever in light of current circumstances—here are 5 reasons they should be becoming intelligent.

Recent times haven’t been easy on companies’ supply chains. They’ve had their suppliers challenged and resilience tested. In many ways the weaknesses of many supply chains have been laid bare and subsequently scrutinized. Why don’t companies have stronger protocols for handling disruptions? Why have some of them been so slow to respond to changes in global conditions and markets?

These important questions, and more importantly, the struggles that have been the source of them, have also meant that companies are looking for rapid improvement. And that means technological progress in the form of digital transformation. That’s where intelligent supply chains come in. In them lies the future of supply chains. A future where disruption is easier to predict, navigate, and respond to.

This ebook covers what intelligent supply chains are and the main advantages that come with having an intelligent supply chain.

What is an Intelligent Supply Chain and What Benefits Come With Having one?

morai-ebook-intelligent-supply-chain-cover-page

That’s it for us this week! If you liked this blog post, why not subscribe to our blog? Interested in our 3rd party logistics services? If so, don’t hesitate to check out our services . We’re also in the twittersphere, so give us a follow to get the latest logistics and supply chain news.

Supply Network - The Future of Supply Chains?The world of supply chain is in a constant state of change—does its future lie in transforming to a supply network? 

The supply chain of today is not what it once was. Where once supply chains were inflexible and one dimensional, they are now so much more. With the opportunities and risks that have come with globalization, there’s been a lengthening of supply chains. Not only have they grown in size but also in the way that they operate. Moreover, with recent events impacting supply chains the world over, they will only be transforming at a greater rate going forward.

However, it’s hard to say the agile, fast, personalized, and highly digitized supply chain that lies on the cutting edge of today and the baseline of tomorrow should really be called a chain anymore. Instead, it’s time to see it for what it is: a network. As supply chains continue their growth, the next step in their evolution is becoming a supply network. And, with that evolution, they can mark a new standard for the production, movement, and delivery of supplies.

This article by Morai Logistics explains what a supply network is and why supply chains should be (and are) moving towards becoming one.

What is a Supply Network?

A supply network is a more comprehensive, dynamic, and multifaceted supply chain. The traditional supply chain has been linear, with the company focusing on its own product. A supply network takes a more holistic approach. An approach that puts more emphasis on the customer and thus looks at the supply chain from beginning to end.  Thus, it can involve more than one organization working together to give the end-customer the best value possible.

Here are some key features of a supply network.

Digitization

Central to the more robust and complex supply system that is a supply network has to be digitization. Without digital transformation, it simply isn’t possible to have the visibility to oversee operations as precisely as needed. Furthermore, digitization gives companies the infrastructure for further technological advancement needed for a supply network. These advancements being (but aren’t limited to) artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and IoT.

Data

The precise, continuous, and thorough collection of data throughout all operations is vital to a supply network. Due the greater complexity of a network, it’s even more important to have data gathered for it. That valuable data, in turn, has to be consolidated so that supply chain managers can get an overview of their operations.

An article by Supply Chain Digital further emphasizes the value of data for a supply network,

Many of today’s supply chains are largely analogue, so even applying near real-time insights often require manual human intervention; in a data-driven world, this is unacceptable. Every aspect of the supply network must be integrated and a great deal of insights-based decision making can be automated, ultimately improving overall speed and effectiveness while driving down costs and reducing errors. Developing this capability depends on the ability of the organisation to bring data to the center of each business function, so companies must be more deliberate in organizing themselves in a way that embraces data-enabled technology.

Concurrent Planning

A network also requires more powerful planning. This involves several things. For one, that means automating planning so that its more efficient and frees up labour. On top of that, planning should involve both demand planning and supply planning. By having these planning systems running at the same time on a unified platform, they can work hand in hand as opposed to apart or even worse, opposing each other.

Culture

Finally, a significantly overlooked feature of a supply network is the culture it requires and fosters. Due to the nature of a supply network—that it touches and improves upon every aspect of a supply chain—it impacts practically everyone involved in an organization. As such, it is up to the leaders within a company to remind employees of the coming changes and instill positivity and belief in the transformation. Without the workforce buying into a supply network, it can’t get going.