Supply chains are becoming ever more complex, so ITsuppliers must adapt to a multi-tasking role.
Many organisations are recognising that increasing efficiency within the supply chain is essential to ensuring growth and profitability – business success means offering greater ranges of products to an expanding supply chain. It means handling order fulfilment of multiple brands to multiple locations in multiple countries and enhancing relationships with customers to ensure loyalty.
However, as volumes and markets grow, so does complexity within supply chain processes. Many organisations are finding their systems are simply not able to cope effectively with the multi-X factor.
Whatever the nature of the software systems in place, they must be able to deliver accuracy, flexibility, visibility, compliance and accountability. The more complex the supply chain requirements, the harder it is to implement systems to manage them.
This change is most evident in the warehouse. To meet the demands of the multi-X factor, the warehouse is no longer an area used simply for storing goods until they are ready to send to customers, it is a dynamic processing centre where goods arrive and leave without ever getting near a storage rack. Inventory is always in motion, whether through cross-docking or flow techniques.
The big questions are no longer about where inbound goods need to be stored and picked from, they are about how we process them in the most efficient and creative way.
The addition of an effective, integrated transport management system synchronises processes within the supply chain, streamlining activities and meeting customer requirements while lowering costs. By implementing transportation planning and management systems, companies have shown up to 20 per cent cost savings through consolidation, carrier selection and more efficient scheduling.
Further systems to handle demand management, inventory optimisation and labour management are also part of the mix. However, the reality of integrating many complex systems into a synchronised supply chain solution is beyond the reach of many software vendors. Companies
need to look to vendors with the knowledge, experience and product sets to deliver the real multi-X factor.
NIGEL DAVIES IS SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, SUPPLY CHAIN SOLUTIONS AT CATALYST INTERNATIONAL