Cloud technology has helped companies adopt a wide range of supply chain solutions. But it has also presented them with certain challenges, says Eric Rempel, chief innovation officer with Redwood Logistics.
As an enabling technology, the cloud is hardly new. But over the years it’s become more scalable, Rempel says. Companies today are looking to add multiple cloud-based applications to their I.T. infrastructure — “to bring them together in a way that’s meaningful to the organization.” Order management, transportation management, visibility, back-office processes — all can be acquired and integrated in the cloud. And that presents certain challenges, in the form of ensuring that all of those systems work in harmony and in a seamless manner.
The cloud enables a more holistic view of the supply chain. At the same time, says Rempel, it offers the opportunity to add multiple “micro-applications” to the technology stack. A company might decide that it’s happy with its legacy enterprise resource planning system, for example, but want to “weave in” certain discrete apps that provide new functionality.
As an example of a company that’s relying on the cloud for a wide range of applications, Rempel cites Taylor Farms, reportedly the country’s largest grower and distributor of produce. As a means of coping with “hyper growth,” it was adding staff, relying on outdated systems and planning logistics manually. The company was looking to take advantage of the cloud’s ability to host applications that could automate key processes while still accommodating some existing systems.
Beginning with its order management and transportation management systems, Taylor Farms subsequently integrated key functions such as e-mail automation, temperature sensing, GPS tracking, geofence notifications, yard management and dock scheduling. The result, says Rempel, has been a significant improvement in process efficiency.
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