Supply Chain Matters has noted in prior commentaries that Supply Chain Digital Transformation and the notions of the Digital Supply Chain can take on different facets, but with a common goal in mind. That common goal remains the integration of information, business processes and required decision-making among both the digital and physical elements of an end-to-end supply chain virtual network.  Supply Chain Technology

Transformation initiatives can be directed at enabling new digital-based business models that synchronize digital based generated needs with required network-wide  resources and physical assets. Other capabilities relate to insuring agility and resiliency among supply chain planning and customer fulfillment focused business processes in their ability to effectively respond to unanticipated events or disruptions.

From an overall technology support perspective, end-to-end supply chain visibility has taken on different perspectives, either supply chain planning or execution focused. Of late, the notions of Supply Chain Control Tower capabilities have been a manifestation for supporting end-to-end resource control, very much akin to the analogy of an air traffic controller. He or she needs to constantly monitor location-based radars, information feeds, designated navigation aides to either guide aircraft to their designated destinations or successfully respond to unplanned occurrences such as severe weather airport delays or closings and the critical declared emergency.

One common thread of such activities is the interrelation of geographic mapping with key related information. Supply chain network design software technology has been available for several years and used by various supply chain management and consulting teams to depict both a mapping of the multi-tiers of the product value-chain with context to key information. For instance, that information could be names and locations of customers, distributors, suppliers and trading partners, linked with key information related to product, capability or operational status. Network design technology continues to be an integral strategic or some cases, tactical tool.

However, increasingly, the notions of digital drive a need for required speed and immediacy of in the moment operational information.

New advanced technologies such as Internet-of-Things (IoT) provide the digital twin notions of physical machines, transportation and other assets. Big data and in-memory technologies provide broader dimensions on contextual-based information related to a customer, supplier or supply chain process condition. Artificial Intelligence and Machine-Learning capabilities leveraged to big-data provides for more predictive insights as to what is likely to occur. The opportunity is the ability to leverage geospatial technologies with each of the above listed for specific digital process needs.

In the geographic sense, there are needs to move beyond static mapping to forms of what is termed as geospatial technology, which in a nutshell, maps very detailed and precise geographic information with real-time intelligence information related to that specific location, as well any other geographic locations.

Supply Chain Matters recently had the opportunity to speak to Esri which describes the company’s capabilities as: “Seeing patterns, connections and relationships that others cannot.”

The company recently presented a at the CSCMP Edge 2019 conference held in September, profiling customer J.B. Hunt Transportation.

Founded in 1969, Esri has been turning its attention to various multi-industry supply chain needs where immediacy of information related to location and key information are very important, especially related to integrating physical and digital. The notion is in providing the ability to quickly visualize and analyze live global network operations to uncover incidents before they lead to a major disruption. A key focus has been logistics and customer fulfillment, services management and supply chain risk mitigation.

Some lighthouse customers include FedEx, which leverages the technology in its global FedEx Express business to monitor the round-the-clock status and movement of aircraft related to any need for repair or replacement parts. Location intelligence provides the ability to pinpoint an aircraft needing servicing, and routing required repair parts to a designated destination where parts meet the aircraft. Global automotive manufacturer General Motors utilizes the technology in supporting supply chain risk management decision support, with the ability to map a specific point of disruption with the immediate parsing of real-time knowledge of suppliers and inventory status that are in a designated proximity to the point of disruption.

Other applications relate to the real-time optimization of delivery routes based on expected or actual weather, delivery times, designated appointments or existing traffic congestion. The Esri Geospatial Cloud is positioned to provide situational awareness based on devices, sensors, IoT and other feeds including 3rd party information sources.


Supply Chain Digital Transformation can indeed take on many facets, and increasingly, supply chain digital based business process capabilities translate to the need for speed of information, location-based intelligence and decision-making that supports bot customer fulfillment and overall network agility.


Bob Ferrari

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