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Author : admin | Friday, 29 March 2019

How Automation Is Transforming the Supply Chain Process

Author : admin | Friday, 29 March 2019

They say life is a journey, not a destination. That’s also correct when it comes to obtaining a truly digitized supply chain.

 

While many businesses look at a fully digital supply chain as a pipe dream, they can start off their journey through a small and non-intimidating step: utilizing workflow automation. Initiating small with workflow automation allows organizations to streamline simple manual process like contract signatures and work right up up to more complex tasks, such as supplier performance management.

 

Those who take the first step see the organizational payoff rapidly. For instance, IBM and Maersk have robotic inefficient processes to the point of using blockchain technology to reduce documentation problems. Shippers used to spending time on countless hours shipping documentation back and forth across the supply chain, creating a complicated paper trail ridden with errors and miscommunication. In switching to automation and the blockchain, their supply chain friction is significantly eased.

 

It is not just giant enterprises like IBM and Maersk. The potential for supply chain automation continues to increase to meet increased demands for transparency, speed and compliance from across the business world. With automation, providers have the ability to support zero-defect logistics processes and enable new levels of productivity.

 

Challenges Within the Supply Chain Process

 

Supply chain management neckties together lots of siloed processes and departments. However, managing the supply chain is fraught with challenges in joining together so many adjoined entities and processes.

 

Businesses get overwhelmed by massive quantities of information coming from suppliers and customers in varying spots, from pricing to labor agreements to tax documents and more. There are simply not sufficient hours or people to complete carry out the processes quickly and error-free.

 

With so much time focused to marrying countless processes together into one supply chain, customer interactions do not get nearly as much attention and time as they should. Consumers expect to obtain their packages when they want them. They also have the option to buy through several channels at any time on any device. Companies also have to expand or maintain fast shipping lead times to customers who want to receive their products on schedule in spite of the increased complexity in the manufacturer’s supply chains. So where is the happy medium? How can a company meet all deadlines while also give customers service matter the attention they demand? They do so through starting their process automation journey.

 

Supply Chain Automation Empowers Shippers to Meet Increasing Demands

 

Automated technology can work constantly to fulfill orders, assisting shippers meet heavy customer demands and reducing operational costs in the long run. For instance, a warehouse worker loading a truck for delivery can scan a package barcode. This triggers a workflow starting with a notification in that shipper’s order management system. That then spurs an email to the customer alerting them their package has shipped. In a similar vein, UPS has implemented warehouse automation technologies to identify the quickest route for delivery vans as it works to reduce the cost of home deliveries and carry on with with record demand.

 

But your supply chain doesn’t have to function at UPS’s advanced level to reap the benefits of automated processes. Mitchells & Butlers, for example, operates managed pubs and restaurants in the U.K. Previously, it used paper-based forms for just about all of its processes — pre-opening and closure checks, health and safety checks, cleaning up schedules, the general manager responsibilities, and more. In general, their manual processes yielded 3 million pieces of paper per year — that’s a lot of room for error and wasted time. In turning to a process automation, the business was able to save over 20,000 hours of staff member labor per year and permit much earlier awareness of errors in the process.

 

Finding an Optimal Automated Workflow Tool

 

Small to mid-sized delivery operations can’t expect to keep pace with industry giants like Amazon. But by leveraging supply chain automation solutions, they can take a critical step toward decreasing operating spending and strengthening bottom-line efficiency. Nevertheless, that ultimate success depends on finding an effective supply chain automation solution. Here are some of the factors shippers should prioritize when looking for an optimal solution:

 

● Incremental deployment: developing automated workflow tools can be a big shift for shippers, and it’s important for people and processes to keep pace. Because of this, shippers should look to solutions that can be rolled out incrementally and on an as-needed basis.

 

● Integration with active solutions: Adopting a cloud-based workflow automation tool shouldn’t come at the expense of jettisoning existing processes that don’t need fixing. In order to facilitate the most seamless adoption possible, shippers should identify solution providers that easily integrate within the company’s existing infrastructure, rather than requiring total overhaul.

 

● Navigable interface: Lastly, shippers need to ensure that whatever supply chain automation solution they settle on, it highlights a user-friendly and highly navigable interface. Shippers out in the field can’t frequently rely on IT teams alone to manage the solution long-term. That means settling on a solution that’s built with line-of-business workers and intuitive functionality in mind.

 

Workflow automation has the drive to stitch together disparate sub-processes into one cohesive end-to-end journey. It can also automate the numerous interactions that happen in among the separate enterprise systems. In the end, the errors happen in manual spaces at process hand-off points in between steps.

 

Finally, workflow automation offers unambiguous, hi-fidelity documentation of the full end-to-end process and encoded corporate policies. Anybody with authority can peek in to see precisely the process progresses and, if needed, effortlessly make changes that are reliably enforced and executed.

 

Moving to a digital platform for supply chain processes should render an agile solution to change processes, approaches and strategy as you navigate the transformation journey. The substitution of manual processes with a fully digital workflow starts small by addressing the most critical areas each time. From there, workflow automation makes for the streamlining of processes covering the whole supply chain, freeing logistics pros to depend upon a smooth shipping journey while they focus on the human elements of their jobs.


This article is originally posted on manufacturing.net

automation is transforming supply chain process

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