What is Supply Chain Technology and Why is it Important? | C.H. Robinson
Supply chain visibility is the ability to track different goods and/or products in transit, giving a clear view of the inventory and activity. It enables shippers to improve customer service and cost controls through management of inventory in motion, proactive status updates, limiting disruptions and risk mitigation. As a result, the supply chain will become stronger and more agile in the process of having good visibility.
The goal of supply chain visibility is to gain advanced insights on how your supply chain works, while reducing risk. Pair those insights with collections of user data, and you are left with a supply chain that can be optimized to be as efficient as possible.
With a third-party logistics provider like C.H. Robinson, shippers like you can improve customer service, reduce costs, and build a stronger supply chain. In this post, we’ll dive into the details of how exactly this is achieved.
Key challenges of supply chain visibility
First, let’s look at some of the common challenges that we see as supply chain consultants. Ultimately, improving your supply chain visibility should diminish these.
- Sharing information and data. Having a system in place requires sharing info and data between the tiers of your supply chain. If that can’t be done, problem’s surface, so ensure that your system provides real-time global visibility across all modes and regions in a single platform. Navisphere Vision provides the real-time visualization necessary to keep all components of your supply chain informed and functioning optimally.
- Interruptions in the supply chain. Enterprises can lose control over the inbound supply network because of the lack of visibility. Keeping all aspects of your supply chain in mind is a challenge in itself, especially those that might be tough to control. The lack of forward-looking demand visibility causes increased inventory levels at different points in the supply chain. Navisphere Vision alerts users to potential disruptions such as weather, traffic, and current events. It also provides the analytics that help shippers make better, quicker decisions to negate disruptive effects.
- Having the ability to comb through data. Without having a good sense of what data will be helpful and what data can be ignored, visibility won’t have the best possible effect on your supply chain. Being aware of the various tiers in your supply chain, and disseminating the relevant information can go a long way. Navisphere Vision enables shippers to make smarter business decisions with relevant data on a real-time level. Overall, this helps predict any challenges that might occur, react in a less randomized fashion, create unity throughout the supply chain, and increase collaboration to deliver products on time.
Key benefits of supply chain visibility
The benefits of improved supply chain visibility all lead to improved workflow, and increased profits. In addition, better visibility allows businesses to cut costs for customers and reduce risk. Let’s look at a few other key benefits of supply chain visibility.
- Mitigate disruptions: If you know where potential disruptions might surface ahead of time, the chances of them causing problems are reduced. Operating a supply chain that is rooted in strong data analysis and communication will limit the potential for roadblocks and lead to exceptional results.
- Enable agility: One of the main goals and benefits of gaining visibility is to give you the ability to be agile. Visibility allows you to get out in front of everything that comes with managing a supply chain, and making the appropriate changes in order to boost your productivity regardless of the circumstances.
- Increase speed: When you make data-backed decisions about your supply chain, you don’t need to sit back and wait for anything to point you towards your next move. You can move faster when you know what’s coming. That is an evergreen piece of advice, and it applies directly to supply chain visibility. This goes hand in hand with enabling agility.
- Meet customer demands: Supply chains need to be able to change and shift to meet evolving customer needs. Full visibility into supply chain processes, plus the help of a supply chain consultant who has seen countless examples of this in action, helps you determine what you need to do to align your supply chain to meet customer demands.
- Data-driven results: Visibility into all aspects of your supply chain allows you to access large amounts of supply chain data. This data, when processed by Navisphere and combined with an experienced consultant’s viewpoints, helps shippers make quick, smart, data-backed decisions that will lead to greater supply chain success.
How to achieve better supply chain visibility
Achieving better supply chain visibility can be done through a variety of means. The common theme among them is improved awareness.
From the top of the chain, down to the bottom, employees should be versatile. The more capable sets of eyes and ears you have on your team, the better off you will be. Here are three tips on how to get there.
Employ the best technology: Visibility isn’t about having eyes on everything, all the time. It’s about making sure that everyone involved in the supply chain has the ability to find where everything is, and what to do when things go wrong. With assistance from advanced technology like Navisphere Vision you will see improved visibility of the moving parts that go into operating a supply chain. From there, advanced insights can help with solving any efficiency issues.
Invest in improving the capabilities of all tiers: Employees shouldn’t be forced or expected to specialize in one aspect of the supply chain. There is room for improvement across each level of your supply chain – this should be the focus. Strict specialization has the potential to put theoretical blinders on your employees, which will lead to limited visibility across all tiers of the supply chain. These employees are your eyes and ears, and training them be versatile in their role will pair well with technological advances that are the supply chain industry.
Focus on workflow: Making informed decisions at the highest speed possible, without risking visibility, requires strong workflow. This starts with the team. Your employees are your teammates in the supply chain. They need to wear many hats in order to maximize visibility in the supply chain. Multi-talented employees can connect the dots, and independently solve issues. By focusing on workflow, critical decisions can be made with confidence. As a result in everything running smoother.
Additional supply chain resources
- Blog: See More, Know More, and Do More with Your Global Supply Chain: Discover Navisphere® Vision
- Blog: 4 Lessons Learned on the Path to Supply Chain Efficiency
- Video: Managing Supply Chain Risk
- Video: Improving Your Global Logistics & Supply Chain
Traditionally, supply chains have been built with a focus on logistics. Analyzing the movement of goods as they go in and out of factories or warehouses and adapting has always been the key to improvement. However, the rise of digital supply chain networks has caused the whole industry to shift.
As supply chains grow and become more expansive, visibility becomes increasingly important. It can result in limiting disruptions, preventing late deliveries and improving workflow.
Looking for more information? Learn how C.H. Robinson can help unleash the full potential of your supply chain.