As companies become more connected with different technological innovations, those in the manufacturing sector are finding that the supply chain is becoming simultaneously more complex and more tightly focused. Some companies have discovered that the designers and engineers who build something will know more about what kind of supplier will be needed for a specific job. This is in opposition to the the typical procurement specialist who makes it his or her business to get everything for a company from as many places as possible. Additionally, the world is changing, and along with new technologies like mobile enterprise software, there is also big data and the Internet of Things, which could make supply chains much faster than they are already. Manufacturing might even find itself back on U.S. shores in a major way, according to one prediction by Industry Today.
In the face of these uncertainties, companies will need to continue relying on foundational tools such as mobile data collection. Everything in the technological world having to do with supply chains comes from real-world data. Getting employees on the factory floor to use barcode scanner software when the shipments arrive in order to build up the lists of suppliers and carriers will be the first step in figuring out the next generation of logistics.
Who Decides on the Supplier?
A recent Supply Management article by Alun Morris, e-sourcing consultant for Wax Digital, suggested that procurement specialists should collaborate more frequently with their engineers and the other designers who help to put products together. Often, the technicians working in the factory and building products know more about which suppliers work best than the procurement specialists simply because the crucial information about raw material quality gets lost in the shuffle and never reaches the right hands.
Instead of shutting the development team out completely, Morris recommended a system where the procurement gurus act as collaborators. Some people are actually bypassing procurement and having developers order their own materials using supply chain software. This bypasses the role of the procurement specialist completely. Such a radical divorce seems unlikely for now, but when taking big data and other new predictive analytical tools into account, it may be something that more companies consider.
Predicting a Best Purchase Scenario
Industry Today wrote the future for supply chains lies with new technology that can take data collected on the factory floor and use it to figure out the best suppliers and the best carriers for specific factories. It can also make estimations about demand and supply, and specify specific product mixes in different factories and warehouses, so that products in demand in certain parts of the U.S. will always be available because of extra shipments to nearby storage centers.
In such a future, using mobile data collection becomes even more central to a company's basic strategy because the computer software that would calculate these decisions requires extremely precise information that needs to be as recent as possible. Having an enterprise mobile application that can simply scan the data from a barcode and upload it to the ERP system will help to speed things along. Even right now, when a supply chain executive needs to make a decision from a warehouse, and all he or she has on hand is a mobile device such as a smartphone or a tablet, then mobile enterprise solutions become paramount to how efficiently a company can make decisions.
Industry is growing in the U.S. As part of this, the factory is becoming more robotic. There will be far less human intervention. This serves to highlight the increasing relevance of mobile data capture tools, which can get necessary information to the people who need it.