Using Technology To Improve Operation Of The Supply Chain

Recently Siemens and the German state of Hesse pulled resources together and created a 6-mile stretch of electrified highway on the Autobahn. The idea behind this initiative is so can hybrid trucks can connect to the line and use electric power during that particular leg of the road and then simply disconnect and continue trucking. While it may seem like a small endeavor, it really does put things into perspective and help us realize that simple and elegant solutions such as that one, can truly make a difference when it comes to weighing in the impact we have upon our planet and how the supply chain is affected while at the same time must carry the burden of such responsibility.

This highway is just one of the many examples of companies and people doing what is right for the world, but at the same time keeping looking for ways to enhance their business and using the efficiency that technology lays on our hands, so resources can be utilized to their full potential. An electrified highway is something that can be paired up with current technologies that allow trucks to be driven by computers and thus save a large amount of money to shippers while at the same time improving safety and reducing carbon emissions in a large scale.

Today’s customer is forcing the supply chain to move faster into this idea of total transparency, something that isn’t simply good for business but that is quickly becoming an imperative due to the pressure of the market. A company with better visibility and that is responsible for insights gained by gathering information, is a company that is able to manage risks in more effective manners.

A few years back it was very difficult and resource consuming to maintain an eye on the supply chain from it’s beginning upstream and all the way down until products made it to the hand of customers. Organizations did their best, but efforts were focused on finding ways to react to shortcomings and deal with issues after the fact, instead of mitigating risks and taking a more proactive approach to the way difficulties should not only be solved, but prevented. Mobile devices, social media and just the fact that we live in a hyper-connected world, is doing a lot to change that and to lift the shroud of mystery that used to cover some of the most intricate links of the supply chain.

The next logical step to take when talking about transparency comes from looking at information and how gathering knowledge is absolutely necessary in order to even begin talking about a see-through supply chain. The key word here is Big Data. Big Data is in simply terms, the large chunks of information that is gathered and subsequently analyzed by computers in order to reveal trends, patterns, associations relating to human interaction with the services and products they have at their disposal.

Big data today is definitely dictating how supplier network activity is taking place, and it probably has to do with the fact that ERP systems are no longer viable to stream information as fast as the new supplies of the market require. While these systems are great for delivering orders and scheduling shipments and taking care of transaction data, they simply do not have what it takes to meet the challenges set forward by today’s supply chains. The “intelligence” needed in order to keep up, is something that these traditional systems no longer have and that is why it has become so important today to find solutions and to spend a considerable amount of resources into finding these solutions for an age in which software and intangible resources are becoming the new currency and driving force that rules the market.

big data_technology_code_supply chain
Image courtesy of Markus Spiske at

Big data is changing the way supplier networks are form, grow and expand. Selling products is no longer an indicator of success, but instead we are focusing just as much in what the fact that what consumers say and think about those products, is what will dictate what their next move is. The way they will use those products, the secondary commodities or services that will be necessary for them to further enjoy those products and what will come next. A successful operation is that which focuses on those aspects and finds a way to anticipate those needs and always stay one step ahead. Being able to know what the customer wants even before they know they want it, is such a powerful position, because it will help things get moving before hand and by doing so, they supply chain will always run as a well oiled machine.

Thinking about ideas in such way may seem risky and far-fetched; magical in a way, but remember that technology is sometimes impossible to tell apart from magic and it seems that this is the age in which those lines are more blurred than ever.

If you want to read more great articles about the management of the supply chain and other ways to enhance productivity, check out our publications at David Kiger’s Blog today.

* Featured Image courtesy of Kaique Rocha at

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