Supply Chain Matters provides two specific application examples of Cloud platform based supply chain focused control layer technology applied to address supply chain business process challenges.

 In the previous blog posting, our research arm shared a snapshot of two specific 2023 Predictions related to the supply chain technology area this year. One prediction was that supply chain management teams will not be able to effectively address multi-tired end-to-end supply chain visibility without seriously influencing and tackling data rationalization and common data standards.  The follow-on prediction was that businesses will continue to invest in supply chain digital transformation and technology enablement, but in a more prioritized scope perspective.

Regarding the latter, we described what we termed as technology control layer approaches, namely supply chain focused Cloud platform technology offerings that are positioned to extract and augment synchronization of processes and decision making. Such platforms are being positioned above existing backbone ERP and specialty supply chain process management software applications. These newer control layer approaches are positioned to extract and augment key analytics and insight information, provide timely context and process synchronization for either supply chain planning or customer fulfilment requirements, and to provide earlier warning to likely unplanned events or component supply and demand.

As we formulated these technology focused predictions, we reached out to some specific providers that have been garnering levels of customer and industry interest.

Warehousing and Customer Fulfillment

Keith Moore, Chief Executive Officer for supply chain customer fulfillment execution focused AutoScheduler provided the following observations:

Robotics investments expedite the requirement for a control layer in the warehouse that exists above a Warehouse Management System to orchestrate activities. As more companies have invested significant capital in conveyors, AMRs, AGVs, LGVs, Auto-Layer Pickers, Goods to Picker, and AS/RS systems, they have realized on implementation that the headcount reduction expected has not been realized, and productivity often slumps below pre-automation levels. The reason for this is that they are now running a bifurcated planning system inside of their warehouse: a WMS to control the people, and a WES to control the robotics. However, there is no joint planning across each system, which results in the need for work buffers to be created to ensure work handoff occurs. This negatively impacts rapid execution and delivery, and results in lower productivity than a single-actor (i.e. just people or just robots). This recognized gap will drive investment in a new breed of warehouse scheduling software designed to bridge the gap between warehouse planning and warehouse execution.

Manufacturing Management

Richard Lebovitz, Founder, Chief Executive Officer and President of manufacturing industry focused LeanDNA described for us the challenges for not having a planning and overall control mechanism focused on a factory, a grouping of owned factories, or the planning and collaboration among key suppliers and manufacturing.

Manufacturers often have to rationalize planning and resource plans generated by a backbone ERP system with the day-to-day realities of on-hand inventory shortages, unexpected or late material delivery from suppliers, or unanticipated order changes from end customers. In essence, companies need to close the technology gap between planning systems and more timely and predictive execution.

A Cloud based control layer in this context is focused on instilling operational and tactical planning either in rationalizing high levels of ERP exception messages, the ability to prioritize planning and scheduling at the factory level, or to identify the highest impact component that will jeopardize a planned or scheduled manufacturing run. The benefit is overcoming hours dedicated to assembling information from various existing systems onto spreadsheets, and in-turn become the agenda of endless meetings focused on resolving needed material shortages or establishing daily or weekly production priorities.

 

The above are just two examples of such approaches, and in future Supply Chain Matters commentaries, we will highlight others.

 

Bob Ferrari

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