End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility
This executive panel highlighted the transformative power of technology in enhancing supply chain visibility, efficiency, and sustainability. By leveraging emerging technologies, businesses can gain end-to-end visibility, turn data into actionable insights, foster collaboration, and drive sustainability initiatives. With a more connected and efficient supply chain, organizations can adapt quickly to changing market demands, mitigate disruptions, and gain a competitive edge in today's dynamic business landscape. Here are the key takeaways:
1. Technology Empowers End-to-End Visibility:
The panel discussion emphasized the increasing importance of end-to-end visibility in supply chain management. As supply chains become more complex and volatile, technology plays a crucial role in providing real-time data and insights. By leveraging emerging technologies such as automation, artificial intelligence, and machine learning, businesses can gain a comprehensive view of their supply chains, from suppliers to customers. This visibility enables proactive decision-making and helps identify potential disruptions before they occur.
2. Challenges in Achieving Supply Chain Visibility:
The executives highlighted some challenges in achieving complete visibility. These challenges include the lack of data and information about suppliers and their suppliers, as well as the difficulty in managing global supply chains with multiple touchpoints. However, with the right technology and data analytics capabilities, businesses can overcome these challenges and build a more connected and efficient supply chain.
3. Actionability is Key:
Simply having visibility is not enough. The panel emphasized the importance of turning visibility into actionability. Data analytics and AI-driven solutions can help businesses make sense of the vast amount of data collected and translate it into actionable insights. By automating decision-making processes and focusing on the critical areas that require attention, supply chain managers can optimize operations, minimize disruptions, and improve overall efficiency.
4. Integrated Planning and Collaboration:
Another key takeaway was the importance of integrated planning and collaboration across the entire supply chain ecosystem. Businesses should align their technology solutions with their overall business objectives and customer demands. By integrating planning systems, sharing data, and fostering collaboration among suppliers, partners, and customers, businesses can create a more resilient and responsive supply chain network.
5. Sustainability as a Driving Factor:
The discussion also touched upon the role of visibility and technology in driving sustainability initiatives. With increased visibility, businesses can track and measure the environmental impact of their supply chains. For example, by providing carbon footprint information during travel booking, companies can empower individuals to make more sustainable choices. Similarly, supply chain visibility can help identify opportunities for reducing waste, optimizing transportation routes, and implementing eco-friendly practices.
So as we said, end to end visibility has become part of a theme pretty much each and every session today has already touched upon that. And I would like the panelists to kick off and really just to introduce themselves, give a bit of background about their history and where where they sort of work. But also to share their perspective particularly given the disruptive landscape that we've got today, how do they think about end to end visibility or lack thereof? Beyond the four walls of an internal organization.
So Sean, if you can kick us off, please. Yeah. Thank you, Scott. Thanks for the invite.
I'm Sean Miller. I'm from BHP bulletin or BHP now. Look after the inbound supply chain globally.
So very very good questions, Toddal, for Scott, I think having started up the organization about four years ago, we thought we're gonna have a bit of a tough ride, and then all of a sudden COVID came. And the importance of visibility in supply chain was like paramount. It was the pinnacle of everything. And I think it sent a bit of the organization into a tailspin of Do we know our suppliers? Do we know our supplier's suppliers?
And do we know their suppliers? Because this chain keeps on going on. And I think that trust organization and hey, we really need to do something about this.
Having started the organization, it was a great time to actually try and put in something obviously, from a system perspective, to try and systemize that, process that.
But that's put us in a really good position that We know where our suppliers are. We know the length of the supply chains. We know it disrupts the supply chain. We know the drivers behind those supply chains. So, suppliers in China We understand what disrupts them on a manufacturing level and what does that impact us from an operations and how we can probably get around that. So having a global footprint and global assets, it's pretty difficult to manage, you know, a disruption in China and what does that equate to?
If we have something in Chile for example, that's a sixty day lead time.
So, that could have a quite a big impact on any maintenance planning or stuff that's that's happening on the ground. So, and really important to be on top of it, to manage it and have that visibility on all the drivers coming in. Thank you, Sean. Thomas.
Yeah. So my name is Thomas Knosen. I'm the the non executive chairman of Tolar Logistics company. I've spent about thirty years, a little more in the industry, a long time with Mersk, as many of you might know, and and in the last five years with Toll before I stepped down last year.
And and when I talked to people about end to end supply chain a couple of years ago, I said, the holy gray list to get end to end supply chain visibility.
And and I think I was wrong. So, I've been looking a little bit out the window. So, can I can I ask you all to just look out the window and and if you look at the wonderful people walking around out here? That to me is an ecosystem of an insurance supply chain.
They show up in the morning. They stand outside and then they walk through and then they walk out at the other end. So that's the supply chain. If I'm a supply chain manager and there's a curtain in front of them, I'm sitting in here and the only way I know what's going on, my supply chain is if I walk out and I kick a few stuff and somebody will come up and yell at me and I get the fact that something has gone wrong and that that's my life as a as a supply chain manager.
And there'll probably be a couple of people coming in here yelling at me because something has gone on on about that. That was the life I think of logistics and supply chain without visibility. So, you know, pull a curtain, you look out now. And we can all look out there and we can see that there is a perfectly aligned supply chain going on out there.
And some of you will say, I can't see it all I need a ladder. So we'll put a ladder for you and you'll get up in the ladder. Instead of seeing fifty percent you'll see seventy five percent. And then we have a Google guy and he says, you know, I've got some camera So, I can actually identify all the different places out here where you can't see where they're walking.
So, we're saying, thank you. So, now, I've got a hundred percent visibility. So now my world is perfect. Am I right?
I have a hundred percent visibility.
Let's try to look out there now.
Who out there is lost?
I don't know. I can see there's a lady over there with a red hat, and she's been blocking traffic for quite a while.
And before there was a waiting party, there was also holding up traffic. So there was some very obvious signs that were showing to me that there was a supply chain problem. But actually, if you just think of it as a supply chain.
There's ninety people out there that doesn't matter. Because they came exactly as the process was designed this morning, they paid the bill then they walked through. They stopped for a picture that had a glass of water and they walked out.
So, one of the things that I think I've come to realize a hundred percent supply chain visibility is not necessarily the solution to my problem, because it's the ten people who somehow have gotten lost out there or stuck or holding up. And I think a long reply to your question is, I think the channels now that we are getting better supply chain visibility is. So how do we remove all the confusion or rather all the things that are going right and focus down on where do I need to act as a supply chain manager or logistics plan? And I think that's probably where I think the conversation is interesting.
So now that we have visibility, now what? How do we use it for impact? So, sorry, long answer. Perfect.
Thank you, Thomas. Really appreciate that. Start up. Yeah, thank you, Skulk, and thank you for having me here today.
Soreb Jan, I'm with Schneider Electric responsible for the global supply chain strategy.
I'm new to my role prior to this for almost two decades. I was a consultant. I was on the other side, so I've kind of moved on to the industrial now. In fact, a lot of people spoke about the gin in a tasting session this morning. Maybe it looks like I'm the only one going for the cocktail making sessions.
With, you know, just on the topic itself and the question that you ask, you ask Schneider specifically if I have to really put it in the context.
So it's a very large complex organization, and that's what my realization has been, you know, being new to the organization. We have about one hundred and seventy, one hundred and eighty plants globally about eighty to ninety DCs globally.
Some are, of course, strategic sites, some are not so strategic and all that makes typically in a complex organization.
We have a huge range of SKUs, a very long tail like a typical organization.
So there's a lot of focus and work happening on transformation. We call it the StriF Program. There are a lot of elements of that program, you know, which are which are there. And one of those elements is also visibility.
And from a visibility standpoint, given that it's a complex organization, there are a lot of intercontinental flows There's a dependence on many countries whether it's in South East Asia or in Europe because some of those products are very IP protected or IP kind of and therefore there are a lot of movements and flows you can't avoid at all.
As part of the Stripe program, as I said, there's a focus on visibility at the time, there's a lot of focus on simplification, regionalization.
Because end of the day, yes, you may get the visibility of a complex organization, but then you can do only so much.
You know, parallely, you know, you'll have to focus on trying to see how do you simplify the flows, how do you digitalize your supply chain more and more. And therefore, as you do some of those aspects and focus on those strategies, you also look at data, look at visibility and take appropriate measures. I always believe that, again, even from a visibility standpoint, yes, it's critical. It's important and the example that you gave us billion.
But if you look back who all could have predicted about the disruptions we've had in the last two, three years, whether the sewage can now issue, the congestion that happened could that have been predicted in advance? Maybe not? Maybe yes, if you are prepared with some good robust mitigation plans, could have taken some corrective actions very quickly. You had plan B's in place, plan C's in place, maybe some things could have really been done very well in time. Visibility, therefore, to my mind, extremely important, as I said, Schneider, as part of the program, we have control towers, multiple control towers across regions, We got a huge amount of visibility. We take corrective actions.
We are now trying to imbibe lot more proactive behavior, proactiveness into those control towers, some bit of more data analytics, decision sciences that could be embedded so that the decisions can be triggered and lot of things other things can actually happen by exception, not by just routine day to day five fighting. So that's the part and the journey we are on. We're happy to talk more as we go along. Thank you, Sara.
Really appreciate that. So we'll double click on the actionability piece very shortly in terms of what do you do with that visibility. But maybe just to get to the end to end visibility piece on? What challenges did you guys face?
What what would you foresee being technology and the role of technology in overcoming those visibility challenges?
I think it's a little bit what Thomas touched is, you know, we didn't have the data, we didn't have anything. All we knew is that the supplier would drop it drop it off.
And the more you peel back, the more you peel the cotton back and the more you put ladders upon ladders to kinda see what you're doing, the big question is what we're gonna do with this data. So we had a lot of data surprisingly. You know, we knew the delivery patterns. We knew the demand side of things, but we just started collecting all the other pieces from our third parties, you know, from our logistics providers, from the shippers, etcetera, and started to build that database of, you know, what is it telling us?
And that's a really important piece of, you know, how you bring some other skill sets to the table. So data analytics, you know, how they look at it is very different from how we look at it traditionally. Right?
So those are the kind of pieces that we had to bring together to say, you know, if you see those blockages happening, How often is it gonna happen? Why is it happening?
And can you prevent it? Don't know, but what are the alternates behind that? So That's very much part of what we're doing now, is collecting those data points, analyzing and building scenarios.
The next piece is to try and build some You touched on a bit of that predictive and the peractiveness like try and, hey, we've seen this pattern before. How do we kind of prevent it happening? And then putting some AI on top of that. Perfect. Thank you, Sean. Thomas?
Yeah, I think there's been different people today talking about, you know, narrative, for instance, as Rato did and said, I I think it's it's important that we understand what problems are we trying to solve with the technology we have. Right? So, what's the narrative of a business, you know, Google saying, we've transformed into being an e commerce driven business perhaps we're pulling a little bit back, but we saw that.
So what are the KPIs and deliverables that the supply chain organization is to to deliver for for that, which is different.
And and how do we achieve that? And and, you know, that might be a different one where pre COVID we were all looking about, how can I reduce my inventories? Because my inventory holding cost my biggest challenge and it's more question of kind of having a push model where we'll push it up where suddenly you get the supplier the customer much closer in terms of of a demand driven profile. Right? So, how do I then use technology to do that transition in my supply chain to meet that. And that's why I think that story of narrative is critical, because otherwise you are just solving yesterday's problems.
And I think being able to understand from the business, what are you looking for? Right? And we all know that they're looking for to free cash lower inventories and all that. But where are you willing to trade off?
I love this thing about resilience is an opportunity, right, to deliver market share growth. But resilience also comes with the cost. So is there a clear visibility to what's the cost of that resilience? So I think perhaps in a roundabout way is I I think aligning the technology for the supply chain to deliver what the CEO wants or rather perhaps what the customer is looking for and then working it back to the supply chain.
Perfect. Thank you Thomas. Sara? Yeah, just to add to my co panelist, I think it's very important to first define from a visibility standpoint what are we really wanting to achieve.
I think, again in an organization could be any, we're looking at upstream. We are looking at downstream, and we're also looking at our own midstream, which is our own manufacturing plants. Because upstream also we all want we go to the tier nth level, which again may not be easy either because some of your suppliers, ancillaries are very very small. They don't have great system, maybe not great management, not great processes and all that.
So there are certain challenges there. So obviously there again, you maybe apply a pareto principle and say, okay, let me focus on my eighty percent by value and twenty percent of those peer, my suppliers on the upstream side and therefore some prioritization focus could be brought there.
Your own manufacturing, I would say relatively much in control because it's in house and you have your ERPs, you have lot of other systems in place, so there is a much better control. Again depends on various organizations like I know for myself, again, we have a bit of a complexity there as well. We have too many instances of the ERP itself, which we are currently also trying to bring onto one unified platform. And the downstream again, working back with the three peers and and different providers, service providers, can you integrate with their systems?
And beyond that, of course, your distribution network and saying that how do you really get So to my mind, I think there's a lot of effort required visibility is easier said than done. There's a lot of effort required to really first define the objectives and prioritize because you can't get hundred percent visibility. I don't think that's a desire and and worth the effort as well. Second is I would say the bit of a good news is, of course, as there is technology, there is data.
There's lots that can be done. There are a lot of use cases, and I would say even in my own experience, there are a lot of starter ecosystem which can actually help you get or rather implement those use cases at a very, very cheap cost.
So there is a lot of that which is possible now. You can actually hire some data scientists in your own company and try to do build on certain use cases and try to drive certain level of build out from a visibility standpoint as well. I think technology and some of these things are really playing a key part now. And to my mind, I think it's not a question of not doing it.
I think it's a question of doing it and trying to doing it in a more end to end basis, not just do a very siloed approach saying that, okay let me look at only my one leg of Logistics network. I would do that pick up a use case which is more intimate, maybe a small one, but given the technology availability and some of the startup ecosystem, you could actually do it at much faster pace, and then you could think about scaling it up as well with time. Perfect. Thank you, Sarah.
So Thomas, I'm gonna ask you to kick us off. Now given that we've got this visibility, How do we in essence use that data to really sense what's important?
Translate that into planners to to know which of the ATP people outside really don't matter. Or we don't have to focus on them today at least, given the status of the network, the supply and demand plans we've got and got in mind. And really then to translate through that into an execution, not only just a scenario plan, but really pushing that through the end to end network as quickly as possible to deal with the disruptions we've got out there. Right? So to really turn the visibility into action ability. And I think the second part of my question would be, given that, how do we integrate everything from an integrated planning response to that as well?
I think there was a lot of questions in that, but but but I think I've sat down and look at your solution and what I like about o nine solutions and not selling or promoting or anything. But this idea that you are looking at, you know, what what is the customer buying? And how is that driving demand? And then how do we automate decisions that can be automated?
And I think that's a critical one, right, to that point saying, if I can focus on the child that's lost his mom and not on the ninety nine people who are doing well, then I can deploy my intelligence and my solutions to that problem. But there is ten people wandering about that doesn't know what they're doing out there. So I think if you can use technology to say, well, we've got a number of decision making parameters that says, if this goes wrong, these are the problems we will solve to get there. So we have ninety nine percent customer fulfillment promised to our customers.
Therefore, if something goes wrong, this is how we will make decisions, but automate them to deliver that. And that will take a lot of that work away, which is actually done today in supply chain by people who are smart and so on and probably make it based on intuition and so on, but actually just taking up a lot of time. So, I think there is something about using technology to get to the point where you're like, where do we really need people to make specific decisions where the rules that we generally use are not fit for purpose.
And then execute that and push that out to partners. But I think it's almost about creating that laser focus on the problems that needed to be solved.
Rather than this massive amount of information where you're just trying to to get things done every day. So, I think cutting it down to where you really need to focus probably most critical thing of the technology. Perfect. Thank you, Thomas.
Sean can ask you the same question, but you really deal with multiple different types supply chains. It's the spare parts incoming to deal with maintenance and turnaround, etcetera, but you're also dealing for the commodities that are used as part of the mining process. So how do you think about that and the different types of supply chains that you deal with as well? I think on the inbound side, which is very much, you know, serving our our assets and making sure they can do things on time.
It's really about, you know, the traditional problem would be, hey, you know, there's a blockage somebody needs to make a decision.
But capability wise, you know, how do we have people in our supply chain that are apt to make that decision, hey, well, it's within five days we can rebook. Let's go. There's torrents built in. Right? So how do you get from that, you know, there's a problem somebody else must deal with it too. I know how to deal with it, and I've got a a sort of range of where I can make decisions and automate it to some extent.
But it's also knowing the downstream impacts of what we have to do depending on that. So if mom was stuck, who's gonna get who's gonna go and have that conversation, who's gonna calm the person down. It's activating that ecosystem that's around. Right?
So we could prevent an impact in the in the supply chain by these people being more connected and collaborative across organizations saying, can you move the the maintenance by a day or two? You know, is their flex Instead of panicking over it, we've got a, you know, a set of skilled people looking after that a problem, but the noise is cut out. Right? If things are on track and things are running within torrents, we're not even looking at it.
It's moved aside.
So that's really on the on what I'll call the inbound side. And I think on the outbound, which is what Skulc's talking about, our commodities out to our business.
It's really about managing the flow of product to port.
And can we minimize impact or disruption of the vessels coming in and out of port, can we optimize that? And that optimization starts with, you know, collaboration all the way down from port all the way to mine to say what's the flow rate? You know, can we adjust it? Can you slow it down a bit because we've got a couple other vessels that we need to come in that are much bigger, etcetera.
So I think part of the the solutions, obviously, technology and connecting the dots, automating some of those decisions that can be within a tolerance range, but then changing some of the capability out that problem solvers, not necessarily just doers in the supply chain. Perfect. Thank you, Sean. So Harav, now given that we've got all of this visibility, how would you think about this capability set in the sustainability angle as well?
How can this help us drive sustainability conversation.
We saw the great work from Bishunco from Wolverine earlier today where they were going through their their product redesign strategy, but are there any opportunities given this visibility now from a sustainability angle as well that you see? I think it looks like you read my mind. I was just thinking about the fact that I think on such an important event and topics like multiple topics during the day, sustainability possibly wouldn't get spoken much about.
It's called absolutely yes. And I'll take a very simple example Nowadays, I'm sure many of us might have seen that as well.
Typically in organizations, when you are looking to book your own personal travel, it gives you five options or three options of flights and it also says that option one has this much carbon impact. Option two has this much carbon impact and so on and so forth. And because of that visibility, if you're really conscious about some of that, you make the right choice, saying that okay, I choose option three, maybe it's by train, it may take me an hour extra but the carbon impact is lower. So its underlying aspect here is visibility, information being provided to the person at the right time and at the time when you are about to make a decision or rather before you're making a decision.
So just to your answer your question more straightforward, yes, absolutely, I think as we talk about all of this visibility control tower aspects when you're looking to look at, you know, rather the plan b and the plan c's that you have put in place, which one to kick in at which moment So sustainability can be definitely an underlying factor and you give it due weightage in your decision making. And that's really the power of, I would say, data
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