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Remove those inefficient processes during Q4

Written by Andy Simpson, Supply Chain Director of Warrant Group For most industry sectors, the fourth quarter considered the busiest time of the year a...

Freddie Pierce
|Dec 17|magazine13 min read

Written by Andy Simpson, Supply Chain Director of Warrant Group

For most industry sectors, the fourth quarter considered the busiest time of the year and, as that statement suggests, the supply chain is always under the microscope, particularly when sourcing from overseas. Forecasting and scheduling adjustment place constraints on manufacturing and pressures service providers to flex and react to constant changes in demand.

Technology can help companies drive their own supply chain and minimise unit costs. It allows them to concentrate on their core competency and not be side-tracked by manual file searching, photocopying documentation, accessing systems to audit track data and reacting to a cornucopia of problems due to poor visibility and non-existent upstream disciplines.

In today’s dynamic supply chain environment, working practises at all levels have changed. We are all mobile, working from home, travelling, working unsociable hours and operating in different time zones. Using an effective digital platform brings your own global village together.

The benefits of an intelligent IT platform are incremental but the strategic objective of allowing the digital age to upstream the decision making process is critical. By combining innovative technology and dynamic upstream solutions, we can create a confident downstream market.

Here are a number of the key elements of an intelligent IT platform that can significantly improve supply chains and deliver tangible benefits especially at busy periods such as quarter four.

Auto Push Notifications

Auto push notifications on an IT platform, created according to your specific needs, are a vital element in streamlining processes. No longer do you have to log in and be “chasing” systems for information; instead push notifications can allow you to dip-in and opt-out at your choosing. You may wish to be notified of an order awaiting approval, or shipped on-board or a reminder that a container requires booking in seven days prior to ETA.

On-Line Order Approval Dashboard

Historically shippers’ e-booking data transmits from factory to the local provider’s office only. By creating a consolidated portal with no constraint on sourcing region, e-booking data can flow through for approval or rejection and automates the simple process of ‘permission to ship’, eliminating all phone calls and emails trails.

In Built Traffic Light Functionality

Embedding traffic light status warnings at point of shippers order minimises the potential for downstream headaches! Status warnings such as estimated ETA overriding the due date and cube utilisation below pre-determined levels addresses potential problems prior to container stuffing.

Carrier Links (Event Management)

Carrier links are essential where trading relations are immature or clients are launching new product lines at a sensitive time and there may be a history of corrupted ex-factory dates. Linking to INTTRA provides end-to-end carrier event management visibility eliminating unproductive ‘work in progress’ chasing and undue worry.  

First Screen Filtering Design

Often the reason why companies are so reluctant to embrace the digital age in supply chains is the time it takes to access data from a “shoe horned” product that has a multitude of drop down menus and usually involves having to come out of one section to enter another for a complete landscape view.

A first screen filtering design where architecture is built bottom up allows any user to access all data within the same GUI making the process fast and efficient 

Systems architecture is key! Automation with the wrong design can be as bad as a manual spread-sheet process and will undermine the entire digital platform. 

Documentation Upload

Documentation upload is a facility that many consider a pre-requisite, which, in reality, happens far too late in the supply chain process and results in unnecessary chasing. Strict timelines should be implemented cross-functionally with technology driving the upload and a push notification for document copy.

To take the whole process a step further the packing list can be mapped through EDI straight into a WMS system creating an automated pre-receipt advice at SKU level.

Reporting

Automating bespoke reports at pre-determined milestones particularly for super-users within a business who require a landscape overview significantly reduces the unproductive time spent building reporting functionality.

Calculators

One regular topic of discussion among buyers and merchandises is trying to ascertain what the budgeted logistics costs will be.

For clients on long validity deals, using a digital platform where a database can be constructed behind the calculator can provide an automated response to a rather lengthy process.

Full Purchase Order Management Solution

In the event of your business wishing to completely transfer full purchase order management functionality to your service provider, it is important to ensure they have the platform and systems architecture, and then your business can concentrate on what it does best.

Origin offices have full visibility of order book data down to SKU level and can easily compare data from the vendor booking form to approve or reject shipments accordingly.

Migration responsibility can be assigned, business rules and tolerances set and vendor compliance metrics recorded.

Andy Simpson has worked extensively in the supply chain sector and is responsible for developing Asia to Europe multimodal services on behalf of Warrant Group, and leading strategic technology based solutions. He has guest lecturer status at the University of Manchester on fashion logistics and has spoken at the Lancashire Group Chartered Institute of Logistics & Transport on International Retail Logistics.