Guest Post

Shining the Light on Some Monumental Supply Chain Wins

August 28, 2019

Guest post written by Laura V. Garcia. Laura is a Freelance Business Writer with an extensive background in Supply Chain, having worked in Procurement, Planning and Logistics throughout her 20 years in the Plastics Manufacturing industry.  

Industries are facing more diverse challenges from consumer demands. Technological advancements are creating a revolution in the way products come to market. An ageing workforce is contributing to a talent shortage in Supply Chain. Now, more than ever, Supply Chain professionals are fighting some pretty epic battles.

As Argentus has written about in the past, the Supply Chain industry tends to break through in the news when there are disruptions and issues. Those losses show up on our feeds, stare at us from newspapers, and blare from our TV sets every day. Yet, Supply Chain wins seem to go unnoticed, much less celebrated. As Argentus President Bronwen Hann stated, “We need to celebrate Supply Chain successes and not just failures. We need to be proud of the mountains that Supply Chain professionals move every day.”

Supply Chain professionals move mountains, but as an industry, we don’t always spend enough time celebrating the ways that better Supply Chain Management is transforming businesses for the better. So we wrote this post to celebrate some impressive wins.

Industry 4.0 in Action

Industry 4.0, the fourth industrial revolution, is being fueled by deep technological advancements. These technologies are working together to revolutionize every stage of manufacturing, from product design to planning and warehouse management. Here’s a quick summary of the tech behind the revolution.

IoT (Internet of Things) is the connection of devices through the internet. These devices can be anything from machine components to refrigerators or cellphones.

Big data is large, complex sets of data that are difficult to assimilate and process. Using new techniques, the data is captured, formatted, and analyzed to garner valuable and useful information.

AI (Artificial Intelligence), is the teaching of machines to learn and think rationally.

Bosch Leads the Way

Bosch is leading the way for connected manufacturing and logistics, with solutions they estimate can increase productivity by 25 percent and reduce inventory levels up to 30 percent. Industry 4.0 is a critical component of Bosch’s corporate strategy, and it has paid off, with total sales over the last four years of more than 1.5 billion euros.

Bosch validates and tests industry 4.0 solutions in-house before releasing to market. Now, software solutions from Bosch’s Nexeed portfolio are currently in use by over 50 international customers. Bosch has helped BMW to increase transparency throughout their process, assisted Trumpf in creating transparency in their Supply Chain, and connected more than 80 different machines at Osram with their Production Performance Manager, which has improved schedule attainment, efficiency and cost reductions.

Lehmann Craft Beer Brewery Models a Digital Supply Chain

At the SAPPHIRE NOW and ASUG Annual Conference, Lehmann’s replica of a craft beer brewery with a digital supply chain showed how connected solutions can remove barriers, connecting and sharing data between departments. It showed how a digital Supply Chain can improve uptimes through collected and distributed IoT-based data that is then used for maintenance and repair. It also shows how Blockchain can be used to manage quality control as well as remain compliant with geographical regulations and ingredient standards.

The fourth industrial revolution really is upon us.

Blockchain Scores

Blockchain, originally developed for bitcoin, is a decentralized and immutable digital ledger (a tamperproof record of transactions or information). For Supply Chain, it allows for complete end-to-end transparency, which is a key goal of today’s Supply Chain organizations.

Bumble Bee Foods has succeeded in implementing Blockchain on their Natural Blue line, and both retailers and end-users are loving it. Products can now be tracked from fisheries right to the end consumer with transparency and data accuracy throughout the chain. Customers can now scan a QR (Quick Response) code to find out Supply Chain information, including the method and location of the fish’s capture.

The positive feedback Bumble Bee has seen since the launch shows that this kind of transparency is resonating with retailers as well as consumers, who are looking to align their values with their purchases.

Success in Sustainability

In 2016 Cisco set a goal: by their 2020 fiscal year, they were to remove one million metric tons of GHG (Greenhouse Gas) emissions from their Supply Chain. The goal was to cover any Supply Chain activities that Cisco directs or influences, including manufacturing-related energy consumption, third party logistics, sourcing strategies and product fulfillment model designs. They set an “Integrated Greenhouse Gas Reduction roadmap” and went on to hit their emissions goal one year ahead of schedule.

Cisco has now set two new goals: by 2030 (fiscal year), they’ve targeted a reduction in upstream Supply Chain emissions by 30 percent. Secondly, suppliers of components, manufacturing, and logistics are to set an absolute GHG emissions reduction target by 2025

Let’s celebrate Cisco for being a shining example of the impact Supply Chain can have on sustainability.

Sustainability efforts can become a challenge once all the low-hanging fruit has been picked. That hasn’t, however, stopped the UK supermarket chain, Iceland, from trying. Iceland took a 20% hit in sales during market tests of plastic-free packaging alternatives for bananas. Despite the challenges, Richard Walker, managing director of Iceland, promises to continue towards its goal of eliminating plastic from Iceland label products by 2023, and have already succeeded in removing 1500 tonnes of plastic throughout their Supply Chain. For continuing to fight the fight for sustainability, we’ll call this one a win.

When so much of our time and effort is exhausted on the daily management of sustaining a business, implementing new technologies, adopting new processes, sourcing and testing alternatives can be hugely daunting tasks. Yet, in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing environment, these initiatives are critical to growing your customer base and improving your bottom line. We congratulate these forerunners on their successes and thank them for leading the charge.

A big thanks to Laura V. Garcia for this guest contribution!

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