Vertically integrated manufacturers — manufacturers that own or control their suppliers, distributors, etc. throughout the supply chain — have a complex set of challenges to overcome.
When you mine raw materials, manufacture goods and ship finished products around the world, it can be hard to retain total transparency over your operations. However, failure to do so can have vast consequences, especially in today’s hyper competitive, data-driven market.
That’s why some companies are turning to technologies like mobile barcoding to achieve 24/7, end-to-end traceability of raw materials, work-in-progress inventory, finished goods, fixed assets and spare parts.
Let’s look at the top 3 reasons why equipping operations with end-to-end traceability capabilities through mobile data collection solutions like mobile barcoding makes good business sense.
First, mobile barcoding lets you connect all business processes, no matter how complex the supply chain, across multiple facility types, locations or countries.
This is especially helpful if certain parts of your business are dependent upon each other. If you’re missing the spare part to repair critical machinery onsite, what downstream effects will this have on the rest of your business? Will it grind raw material mining to a halt, in turn delaying manufacturing and forcing finished goods to be rushed shipped or shipped late?
Each part of the company is dependent on the other — and when one part breaks down, it sends ripple effects throughout the rest.
This is the case with Trident Seafoods, a vertically integrated harvester, processer and marketer of seafood. The company first collects initial transactions at their remote Alaskan plants, where fish is prepared for transport on ships. Then, it sends the seafood through value-add plants in Washington, Oregon and Minnesota, where the fish is processed and turned into finished goods. Finally, it ships these products around the world.
By digitally transforming their supply chain, Trident Seafoods can oversee each interdependent step in real time.
After connecting your business data across multiple segments, it’s important to take a closer look at what inventory is moving, how much is being used and where it’s going on any given day.
This additional step will empower your working capital with greater transparency to support lean operations.
Let’s look at one scenario, first with manual, paper-based processes and then approach that same scenario with a mobile barcoding solution.
If a worker receives raw materials on the receiving dock, but doesn’t have time to transfer handwritten notes or receive that material into the ERP until the end of the day—or two days from now due to backlog, your manufacturing team may not realize the material they’ve been waiting on has already been delivered. So, they rush order a new shipment of the raw materials they need (which they already have but just don’t know it) to push finished goods out on time.
Now, when the receiving team finally inputs the items into the computer, you realize you have an overstock. This cyclical process unnecessarily drives up costs and wastes valuable production time.
Now, with a mobile barcoding solution, workers receive raw materials on the receiving dock and scan the barcodes with their handheld mobile devices. This scan transacts instantly against the ERP, updating inventory levels in real time. When your manufacturing team checks the system, they see the material they need is in stock and put it in production.
This added visibility means the manufacturing team doesn’t have to wait on the inventory counts to manually make their way into the ERP. They also don’t have to waste time searching for the needed product, trying to find a replacement product at the last minute or spend additional money on expedited shipping.
End-to-end traceability solutions can also help minimize interruptions and costly downtime.
Manufacturer of cement and concrete for the construction industry, Grupo Cementos de Chihuahua manages many manufacturing plants, distribution centers, building locations and a coal mine across Latin and North America.
The company used manual data entry to track spare parts inventory movements, but this was causing major discrepancies between what was in the system and what was actually in stock. And because they didn’t have a clear system for recording inventory locations, they also had a difficult time even locating in-stock inventory in the yard.
One missing or out-of-stock part could cause hours or even days of downtime, which meant its manufacturing plants, distribution centers and building materials locations were also negatively affected.
Now, with real-time inventory tracking, Grupo Cementos can see exactly what inventory they have on hand and where its located, eliminating these historic issues.
Inventory management is an unavoidable challenge for all companies. The complicated global supply chains that have come to define vertically integrated organizations create even more obstacles in tracking large quantities of inventory across multiple operation types and locations.
It may be difficult but can be made easier with supply chain automation technologies like mobile barcoding that create end-to-end-traceability in your organization.
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