Insulating a business from the effects of global events is a top priority for manufacturers. We often hear of the crippling effects of recent global events on the manufacturing sector. The effects of supply chain delays and shortages are far-reaching. It seems few businesses have managed to outpace the tsunami of challenges battering the UK manufacturing supply chain. The few however, could hold the secret to thriving in the post-Brexit, post-Pandemic world, rather than just about surviving.
There are lessons to be learned from the leaders. We explore some of the most successful manufacturing supply chain trends from recent years. How can supply chain excellence be achieved in world of uncertainty?
1. The Digital Supply Chain
Transforming the manufacturing supply chain using digital technology might sound expensive and highly disruptive. In essence, it’s just software integration. There has been a shift toward the use of common ERP systems to automate processes and build datasets. Supply chain visibility made possible by technology.
In practice, leading manufacturers have ‘plugged’ each process, department and third-party into their ERP software. Data is centrally collated from operational activities. That might not sound like anything new, and you’d be right. The secret sauce here, is the ability to derive valuable insights from this mass of data, for use across a business.
Data is of little use if only the CFO has access to it. Efficient exploitation of data can only be achieved when it is available to everyone to derive genuinely useful insights. Providing the means to analyse data leads to better informed, faster decision-making throughout an organisation. Production planning with full digital supply chain visibility, for instance, make agile decisions when it comes to materials availability. With a consistent supply of materials, production output improves. Without awareness of delays in the manufacturing supply chain, the production schedule isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.
With a digital supply chain, employees spend less time on manual tasks and reacting to unexpected shortfalls. The digital supply chain is an opportunity for employees to spend more time identifying and pursuing profitable opportunities.
Colgate-Palmolive, for example, implemented digital supply chain management with great success. Harnessing data to segment customers, adopting eCommerce as a new business model, and factory automation, facilitated by enhanced digital capabilities. Efficiencies gained using customised technologies has supported Colgate-Palmolive to achieve manufacturing supply chain excellence. The company continues to grow despite its exposure to the same challenges thwarting ambitions of other manufacturers.
2. Customer-Driven Evolution
Over recent years, escalating customer demands have weeded out the manufacturers unable, or unwilling, to adapt to the new norm of supply chain uncertainty. Supply disruption and constantly shifting demands prompted a rethink of how products and services are delivered to customers. Architecting a business for adaptability in real-time, finding opportunities within customer data.
A composable business architecture – a modular structure – is highly adaptable and more resilient when uncertainty appears to be the only constant. Success stories from the pandemic often refer to manufacturers rapidly shifting their output from white goods for example, to critical medical equipment. A composable business structure is an agile one.
The secret sauce here, is leveraging technology to identify trends and better understand customers. For many organisations, the underpinning technology – itself modular in its structure – is refreshingly simple. The path to digital supply chain management is simpler than you might think. Connecting processes so data is captured in real-time and stored in a central and secure cloud-based software system. The modular element of this software is, in a basic sense, pick ‘n’ mix. Selecting modules applicable to the individual manufacturer and connecting them all via software integration.
Democratisation of collated data is the key to customer-driven evolution. Each role within a business has individual responsibilities and objectives. A tailored interface – customised dashboard – and automated reporting delivers role-based insights direct to the individual.
3. Doing Well by Doing Good
We’re not talking about supporting a local sports team here. We’re talking about manufacturers with sustainable practices baked into their operations – integrating core values within manufacturing supply chain. Customers of both B2B and B2C brands are voting with their wallet when it comes to environmentally and ethically sourced materials and labour. Using data-derived insights to align purpose with customer values.
Streamlining the manufacturing supply chain through digitisation alone has taken a significant volume of vehicles off the road, reduced airfreight, and reduced waste. Supply chain management in manufacturing is part of a brands value proposition. The benefits of adopting a digital supply chain has become a part of the marketing strategy for many brands.
Achieving this level of sustainability in the manufacturing supply chain is a matter of addressing risk, resilience, and supply chain capabilities. Nestlé is a prime example of working closely with supply chain to dramatically increase its green credentials with the added benefit of reducing cost and risk.
Leading with Purpose
Manufacturers are using data to differentiate using a customer-centric approach. Adopting different business models, a direct-to-consumer business model for instance, which relies on data to uncover high-value opportunities. Leading with purpose, manufacturers are using digital technologies to achieve ambitious sustainability goals.
Any sized enterprise can take lessons from manufacturers leading the way in digital supply chain methodologies. The foundation technology leading manufacturers leverage is not new. ERP software for manufacturers goes beyond the shopfloor and warehouse. Manufacturing software incorporates every function across an organisation:
- Order management
- Planning and scheduling
- Supply chain
- Shopfloor Management
- Quality Control
- CRM and marketing
When a business operates using a single, unified system to drive manufacturing excellence, the benefits are far-reaching. Connect the dots with a free business consultation to discover the prefect-fit, tailored manufacturing software solution.