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How Ford is Implementing Big Data into its Supply Chain

Written by Michael Clark
February 9, 2015

Ford is using big data to expedite its supply chain

Bringing big data into the supply chain is not always as simple as buying the right software. A company first has to build a foundation of mobile data capture technology that can accurately record the information big data relies upon. The software needs this information in order to process statistics that can be used for building a proper supply chain. However, the adaptability of big data means that a company using it will be able to revolutionize not only their logistics part of the business but the factory side as well. Annibal Sodero, assistant professor at the Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas, called big data management “the next frontier in retail” in a recent video on Supply Chain Brain.

One of the other ways that big data can help with supply chains is to make logistics more focused on the supply side. This means major changes to the way that organizations are structured. This is partly based on the number of e-commerce businesses that have emerged. Companies want to be able to order something and have it delivered quickly. For those on the supply side of the supply chain, this need can be expedited with big data when it is driven through the effective usage of mobile data capture solutions.

For example, knowing how fast a factory can custom design a specific product would be helpful. This can occur when enough custom jobs have been tracked through to completion that a computer can use big data processing to figure out how long it takes to make something on average. The level of detail that a highly functional computer program can provide when there is enough information to feed into it can often be striking. Just by knowing the materials and the basic design of the product, companies can make very accurate estimations of the time it takes to complete a project.

According to The City Wire, this is ultimately the direction in which companies are moving.

Leveraging Big Data to Expedite Deliveries

Big data can also be used to make estimations about the time a certain carrier will ship a product. By scanning the barcodes of the products as they go into the truck and tracking how long it takes for the vehicle to arrive at its destination, companies can very easily make accurate guesses about how long it takes for a product to arrive. By doing this, a business can more ably compete with other companies that have shipping contracts with major carriers such as UPS. Generally, using local, third-party shipping companies is faster because of diseconomies of scale, but knowing about which shippers are the best is not always simple. Having accurate information can help with this.

Ford Motor Company and Big Data

Ford is one company that plans on taking advantage of all the different tools available for calculating supply chain speeds, factory efficiencies and everything else. Finally, it will reorganize its entire structure to completely revamp the speed at which it can produce cars and send them anywhere in the world, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“One of our strategies as a company is we’re thinking of ourselves not just as an automotive company, but we’re also thinking of ourselves as a mobility company,” said Mark Fields, president and CEO, to The Journal.

In order to bring these different facets of the same tool to one organization, a company will need to begin using data capture – both using automated data collection software on the factory floor and by scanning incoming raw materials and outgoing finished goods as they exit the factory with barcode scanner software. Think of these basic tools used at shipping points and on the factory floor as the foundation for everything that will happen in the future to revolutionize the way manufacturing is conducted at every level of the industry.