How to improve supply chain visibility
Supply chains are intricate networks of organizations, each relying on the other to fulfill their role. Without the farmer who grows strawberries, a food storage company can't store jam in glass, and without packaging, a deli won't sell as many preserved goods. This is just one example of how everyone in the supply chain is mutually dependent, even if they're multiple stages apart.
When we think of the supply chain holistically, it becomes obvious that being able to track the product throughout its production process is essential for business success. As Bizagi explains, this ability is known as "visibility" within the industry. Although businesses may see themselves as separate entities, no man (or company) is an island, and a direct line of sight improves productivity for every player.
The question is no longer "Is supply chain visibility important?" It's evolved into "How can supply chain visibility be enhanced?" Below are two answers to this question:
Involve all stakeholders
Every participant in the supply chain — from manufacturer to retailer — needs to be aware of the product's status and any obstacles or delays that arise. Transparent communication makes it easier to solve potential problems. As GEP explains, this supplier collaboration ensures that end products are successfully delivered to their final destination.
According to AI multiple, this can be achieved in two ways: vertical collaboration and horizontal collaboration. In the former, any given stakeholder works with partners who operate before and after another business in the supply chain flow map. The latter sees a company working with others at a similar stage in the chain, such as one logistics organization partnering with another to share the load if need be.
Focus on data
It's not enough to thumbsuck when it comes to assessing success: Supply chain businesses need to crunch numbers. Gathering the facts and figures from every relevant business can help determine any specific production stages that are impeding progress, which means changes to operational processes can be made accordingly.
The type of technology you'll need to capture these statistics will depend on what information you're trying to gather. For example, motion sensors will help determine how many people are moving across a factory floor which, in turn, can help ascertain whether there are too few or too many employees based on order fulfillment rates.
Regardless of what tech or equipment you use, you also need to implement digital information sharing software that can give every relevant stakeholder access to the data you're gathering. It's important that it's not kept in silos, so you should invest in supply chain integration systems that share data in real-time for optimal visibility. Look into tech driven by artificial intelligence and the internet of things (IoT) for best results.
Furthermore, as Corporater explains, you can feed this data into a digital twin organization — a digital rendering that mirrors your real organization — to model the results of workflow changes or forecast return on investment (ROI).