While companies across many industries are harnessing big data to improve business intelligence, organizations in the supply chain also face the need to increase manufacturing and distribution intelligence. According to Supply Chain and Demand Executive, the biggest challenge is creating a path for this information to flow through multiple plants and into the enterprise view.
Information Must Be Provided In Real Time
For a number of reasons, the data collected by the supply chain must update in real time so that employees across the company can make quick decisions about how to meet a customer's demand. Many organizations are harvesting large amounts of data, but not using it to make spur-of-the-moment decisions, where it is of the most benefit to manufacturers and distribution companies.
For example, inventory control will be more important than ever. Realizing that a product was suddenly over-sold and stock is now out or low could cause a significant slowdown in production. Workers must be able to decide whether the order should be delayed or there is an acceptable substitute currently in stock in the warehouse. The decision of whether to send it must be made quickly.
Supply Chain and Demand Executive goes on to explain that because of increased outsourcing, higher demand and multiple suppliers, this type of information must extend far beyond just one department of the business. Siloing the business processes of manufacturing and distribution is not an effective way to operate.
Real-Time Data Collection on the Warehouse Floor
New technology makes it easier than ever to track and collect information about production in the warehouse or factory. Barcode scanning software and mobile data collection provide solutions that can allow each employee to log his or her contribution to an order. This information can be used to assess individual worker productivity as well as the ability of the warehouse as a whole to conform to sudden shifts in supply and demand.
The next step is to ensure that this information is not only available to warehouse managers, but to HR directors, back office operations and even the sales team as well. Real-time inventory control can prevent staff from placing orders for stock that is not available. Select-to-ship times improve drastically when everyone involved with an order process is aware of the enterprise's ability to meet demand at a moment's notice.