Computers and the Internet have revolutionised supply chain management, that is for certain. Digital datasets can be effortlessly copied, updated and distributed. Instant global communication is at your fingertips. Just remember though, digitalisation has more to offer.
To understand ‘the digital supply chain’, we have to look at cutting-edge technologies that turn entire processes digital. Using information in a digital format is the first step, not the final step. Understanding the difference between digital formats and processes is key to building a digital supply chain of your own.
The digital supply chain helps achieve the ultimate goal in logistics: to know. The Internet can make information immediately available; the digital supply chain is the application of this potential. And that is the point: digitalisation increases direct, actionable insights.
An immediate transfer of data paves the way towards visibility and agility within your own supply chain. Outside your supply chain, with partners and customers, data supports transparency and secure collaboration.
In a single sentence, as one of our industry partners put it, “When it comes to logistics, knowledge beats blind faith every time!”
One industry sector after another has begun to understand the advantages of digitalisation. In fact, now may be the best time to fast-track digitalisation. Ever-more sophisticated means of collecting and analysing data is opening a window into the inner workings of our world. Businesses can leverage data to increase predictability, identify inefficiencies, improve agility and provide more transparency to customers and partners.
This level of insight has previously been impossible. Data is dramatically changing how we think and act. Little wonder, digitalisation has been dubbed the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (Industry 4.0) and data, ‘the new oil’.
While digitalisation sounds promising, many are left wondering: “Where do I start?” The first step towards a digital supply chain – with the ability to optimise and automate processes – is having data to put to work. So, which data?
Start where digitalisation is needed the most. Shine light where it is darkest; focus your digitalisation efforts on removing guesswork. For most, this means digitalising from the ground up. It is in many day-to-day operations that data is sorely needed.
Think about where your own supply chain operates on hunches, gut feelings and assumptions. Does it include knowledge of orders, where they are, what condition they are in, delays and disturbances? Digitalisation efforts should begin with creating a complete, dynamic picture of your supply chain with data to back it up.
Removing guesswork from the ground up is where tracking technologies come into the picture. They provide a digital ‘line of sight’ on the location and condition of your cargo, while also providing the building-blocks for your digital supply chain.
There are several options when it comes to tracking technologies. Not all are created equal. While data on your cargo and assets can be entered manually, this costs time and can be inaccurate. Manually entered data will of course also only be available after the fact; there is no data during the shipment.
On the other hand, real-time data provided with smart trackers is not only a digital format. It is a digital process. A constant stream of data on location and condition offers a real-time view of what is really happening in your operations.
Real-time location data answers:
Real-time condition data answers: