Check out this Awesome Supply Chain Visualization Tool

October 15, 2013

Check out this awesome Supply Chain Visualization Tool:

Every once in a while we like to write a quick blog post that links our readers to a cool or unique Supply Chain link we’ve found in our travels. Often these links are resources to assist with explaining Supply Chain to the wider public, or to help visualize Supply Chain-related information in an easily-digestible way.

For anyone who hasn’t seen it, we recently stumbled across SourceMap. Originally produced by a group of MIT students, SourceMap is an interesting tool that lets individuals and corporations map Supply Chain activities to get a visual overview of where products come from. We’re used to thinking of the Supply Chain as more of a metaphor than an actual “chain” – but this tool lets individuals easily map the sourcing of products and raw materials into a visual geographic representation. It even provides colour coding for upstream and downstream sites. It obviously simplifies the story behind what brings a product to market. But it’s also really cool.

Supply Chain mapping has become more and more important. Companies need to be able to visually assess their supply chains, to see where geographic risks lie in terms of concentrations of suppliers. And, with events like the Bangladeshi Factory Collapse or the Horse Meat Scandal in the UK, consumers are demanding more and more transparency in the Supply Chains of companies they purchase from. A tool like this is a good way for companies to give a bit more transparency. They offer free and paid versions.

Here are a few interesting examples of maps users have made:

SourceMap1

French Nuclear Supply Chain:

In this example you see a somewhat straightforward Supply Chain laid out in an easy-to-understand way. You can see at-a-glance that France imports Uranium from Africa, Alberta, Australia and Central Asia. Zoom in closer, however, and the picture becomes more complex:

SourceMap2

You can see the domestic Supply Chain within France that leads from various fuel processing plants downstream to the Nuclear plants themselves. Clicking on any node in the chain brings up a window where the map creator can input a description of the facility, and even video. Here’s another example, a visualization of Starbucks’ coffee Supply Chain:

SourceMap3

Obviously, the amount of intel you can truly convey with one of these maps is limited. And in some cases, it’s possible that a company could use one of these maps to gloss over details of their Supply Chain. But the level of detail and user control is deceptively deep, and could be a useful tool for Supply Chain transparency in the right hands. For both the consumer and the potential business partner, this type of visualization seems way easier to comprehend (and cooler looking) than a list of facilities.

Know of any other cool visualization tools for Supply Chain professionals to use? Let us know!

 

 

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