Although the current state of the economy has made it necessary for supply chain executives to be able to access certain information with little notice, many global companies still are not using the best data. In addition, firms often fail to take full advantage of the information they have.
According to a recent article in Traffic World, executives can rectify the situation by identifying what data they really need. This includes the company's total supply chain expenditures, all exceptions for shipments that did not follow routing guidelines, shipments that will be delayed while in transit, and information that enables supply chain executives to predict and reduce unexpected increases in supply chain expenses.
After determining what is needed, company decision makers should ensure the data is presented in a precise and timely manner via a system of checks and balances. Such a method--typically put in place through an established third party--will enable supply chain executives to receive essential information through daily, weekly, or monthly reports.
Finally, company leaders should ask a few key questions: Do they know their total supply chain spend? Are they are aware of shipment exceptions caused by routing guide noncompliance? Can they predict which shipments will experience delays in transit? Are they able to reduce or eliminate excess charges?
If supply chain executives cannot answer these questions, they should go back and review their processes or hold accountable the third party.
Fraunhofer IIS researchers are working on a new technical platform to protect goods during the shipping process through the use of wireless ad-hoc sensor networks. These networks create logistical information systems that enable items to be tracked along the entire distribution chain, Fraunhofer Institute reports.
Intelligent logistical objects--or smart items--are an advance over passive radio frequency identification systems, which only transmit information when requested. The active approach solves fundamental problems in distribution logistics. For example, smart items can increase the transparency of shipping goods by making a comprehensive record of all items in a consignment. They also create an active retail surveillance system because smart items notice when something is removed from the consignment and can inform the information technology system of the problem, not only preventing loss from within the flow of goods, but also registering any manipulation or incorrect handling.
Fraunhofer researchers are working to develop all of the necessary elements for the platform, including network mechanisms, network protocols with power-saving media access tiers, efficient routing algorithms, distributed services and middleware, and application-specific software.
Jeremy Shaw, managing director at JPMorgan Chase in London, discusses the trade finance sector and the convergence of cash and trade-related payments in the current market in a recent issue of Trade Finance.
Shaw says, "This has unfortunately coincided with a restriction on lending by some institutions that are unable to fill this gap. Our focus continues to be the supply chain and [serving] our key customers."
"Good quality opportunities are on the increase, and we believe this will remain so for some time," Shaw adds. "The crunch has brought some sanity back to the market."
Water consumption regulations, increased security, and shifting consumer habits are bringing about significant changes in the supply chains of major British retailers and manufacturers, according to a CapGemini 2016 Future Supply Chain report.
CIO adds that businesses will use technology to meet many of these challenges. For example, 3663 Food Services--a UK-based catering and hospitality services provider--is implementing a new Microsoft Dynamics AX enterprise resources planning system in its wholesale division. Company Chief Information Officer Jane Scott says the technology will enable employees to improve supply chain management practices and react to supply chain demands. In addition, 3663 Food Services leaders are planning to use tools such as telematics navigation systems to improve vehicle routing.
CapGemini also notes that all supply chain partners must collaborate more if they hope to bring about truly significant changes.
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