The supply chain is no longer a linear chain like the old days. It’s a far-stretching network of chains. And this network can be huge with multiple points. And the continuously increasing amount of people, data, and technology makes it even more complex.
Industry experts agree on this too. According to a survey of 623 industry experts, 70% of companies said their chain was “very” or “extremely” complex. While 74% admitted they use 4 or 5 modes of transportation. These figures help illustrate just how complex the current supply chains are.
And do you know what one of the biggest challenges in such complex global-scale supply chains is? End-to-end supply chain visibility.
With today’s article, you'll understand:
- What end-to-end supply chain visibility means
- What consequences a lack of supply chain visibility can have
- And how to achieve visibility in the supply chain
What’s End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility?
End-to-end supply chain visibility (SVC) means the ability to track every part, item, and product traveling through the supply chain (from the supplier to the manufacturer to the customer) in any direction (to or from the customer).
With the help of technology, SVC allows real-time logistics data about every part of your chain. These data help firms tackle:
- Inventory shortages
- Meet demands
- Track shipments
- Improve customer and supplier relationships
- Give delivery estimates
- Boost supply chain efficiency
SVC is visibility both inside your company’s borders and across your partner’s network as well. The former is not much of a challenge, but it still has to be obtained. But tracking it from a factory in China to an American plant that’ll ship it to a European distributor is a different league.
Technological advancements have provided different software and ways that make it possible.
But what does a lack of supply chain visibility mean for your company?
Here are 5 consequences you can face because of a lack of supply chain visibility:
As supply chains have become more complex, disruptions have become more frequent. The stakeholders nowadays include raw material suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, warehouses, staff, and the guy behind the register – at the minimum. Traditional means of communication and collaboration are no longer enough.
And these disruptions happen because of a lack of supply chain visibility. These can lead to:
- Increased cost of working
- Administrative mistakes
- Damage to brand reputation
- Missed deadlines
- More unnecessary costs
- Damaged deliveries
- Loss of productivity
SVC allows for a single place where everything can be tracked and traced from the earliest stages to the final delivery.
Meeting Customer Expectations
As every marketplace grows more saturated, consumers have more options than ever before. Now providing the best product isn’t enough – customers want more.
They are no longer willing to accept late deliveries or deteriorated product quality because of transport. They can and will find better alternatives.
To meet the higher demands of customers, a transparent supply chain with a proper flow of information and data are a necessity now. With the help of end-to-end supply chain visibility, the information will be available to all stakeholders. Analyzing the data allows for evaluating inefficiencies and problems and, in turn, fixes them in a way that maximizes efficiency – however and whenever necessary.
In the age of outsourcing, supply chains have become globalized – spreading across countries, regions, and continents. However, the supply chains being spread across the ocean have made overseeing them a lot more difficult.
It’s nearly impossible for a European company with a multi-layered supply chain to know what parts a manufacturer in India uses. It’s extremely difficult to know from where a damaged part is being supplied. Or if the products are getting damaged mid-journey by a mishandling transporter.
However, a transparent supply chain can help. You can locate any good and get accurate data about the status, location, condition, forwarder, and everything else – and have them updated in real-time.
Need for Data Analytics
The market works in real-time. Time is money. To make the best decisions, they must be made in real-time.
Using real-time data to make real-time decisions and forward planning requires data analytics. Machine learning is a game changer here. By feeding excessive amounts of data, you can let computers learn and predict from patterns. It can:
- Guess where the market might be going
- Handle disruptions
- Better optimize the routes for your freight
- Measure impacts
- Improve transportation performance
The ability to be proactive and predict the future based on predictive analysis is the next big thing in the supply chain industry. However, you’ll need a lot of data to achieve this. And good luck finding that without visibility in the supply chain.
Disregarding machine learning will lead to you missing out on today's big thing.
Controlling Carbon Footprint
A report by Ernst & Young showed that a company’s supply chain emits 4 times more greenhouse gas than its direct operations. And carbon emissions are taxed in some places – and they can become widespread soon.
So, for the sustainability of your supply chain, make it more efficient, as increased efficiency means decreased carbon emissions. And you need SVC to obtain increased efficiency.
Companies are taking action to adapt to geopolitical changes, raw material shortages, constantly changing weather patterns, and improving their commercial activity's impact on the environment.
How to Achieve End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility
- By using process flow mapping to make a supply chain diagram, you can find out which points require modifications;
- Inventory control, fleet management, customer demand, and warehouse – look for capabilities across these 4 areas;
- Implement digital solutions such as the internet of things (IoT), supply chain automation, cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI), etc;
- SVC software can be simple products to full suites to modify your logistics operations;
- Invest in systems that can be integrated with the best TMSs and RMSs to get transparency in all the steps of the transportation;
- Measure impacts with the help of logistics KPIs.
Guessing Where Your Shippment Is Ends Now
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