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Data: it’s one of the buzzwords of the last decade. If used in the right way, it can become the closest thing to a modern-day crystal ball a business can have.

So can it help the supply chain industry build more resilience following the biggest crisis the industry has ever seen?

The simple answer is yes...but the solution is not always easy. So where do you even start?


Covid chaos


When the global pandemic hit, it exposed the true extent of the silos and visibility issues that existed within the global supply chain.

Chaos and disruption ensued, highlighting to most industry players how imperative it was to have the ability to track goods in real-time, right across the chain.

While organisations generally know what their supply chain looks like, most only have visibility of parts of it given the number of disparate systems typically used by various providers within the chain. In many cases, those systems don’t generally ‘talk’ to each other, so there’s no complete view of it.

The pandemic was, in effect, the catalyst for many players to seriously look at how to stitch their supply chains together digitally to achieve a better view of their operations.


How can businesses use tech to create a higher performing supply chain?


For organisations, there are basically two options;

  1. Find a logistics provider that already has the capabilities and technology in place to manage the supply chain end-to-end; or
  2. Piece all parts of their supply chain, currently operating in isolation, together with technology.

The latter involves employing a ‘supply chain visibility platform’ to connect all those operating within the supply chain together.

For logistics providers, employing supply chain visibility software creates multiple benefits. Not only can it provide clients with a more comprehensive view of performance and better meet contractual expectations, it can also help monitor sub-contractors more efficiently and be the secret weapon that wins new business over competitors.

The good news? No matter what type of business you are, Origin can help.


Forget requirements, show us your data!


Origin supply chain expert, Malcolm Jackson-Cox, says data is like ‘virtual rocket fuel’ when fed into supply chain technology.

“Data unlocks valuable insights for a business. Not only can it help determine the right tech stack to better manage their supply chain, or their role in it, it can also help better manage the business going forward.”

But Malcolm says there’s not a one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to achieving supply chain visibility.

“Every organisation is unique and has different requirements for how they want the system to work. That’s why we use data at the very beginning to determine how our supply chain engine needs to serve an organisation.

We find that most companies think of supply chain visibility software as just a vehicle to track and trace goods. But that’s a very basic, high level definition. It actually centralises data across your supply chain so all those within the chain can collaborate. When tailored to a company's unique requirements, it provides real-time visibility and also has the power to help optimise and identify areas within the business where it can improve performance further.”


The hardest part is knowing where to start


Malcolm says most businesses generally know what their supply chain looks like, but the reality is it doesn’t fully exist in any one system.

“One of the first things we do is help clients map out their current supply chain, end-to-end, to develop a systematic view of it. We then identify areas where data is missing or undefined and then use integration to get the right data to fill in the gaps,” he says.

“Our approach is unique given its flexibility and ability to integrate with any system we can get data from. Integration is absolutely key in this process. The challenge is then processing that information in a way that’s not a steaming pile of mismatched data.”

Malcolm says this is not particularly easy to do given the various partners in the chain all have different systems.

“Most operators within a supply chain are working off different systems - from production, warehousing, transport and order management systems right through to basic spreadsheets. Our supply chain engine is built to process data and events in any format, from practically any system, into a central place to help make sense of it all in a consistent language.

This creates a clear picture of the wider supply chain in real-time and also provides context to individual operators whose individual supply chain sits within the wider view. It also helps anticipate issues before they become problems and provides valuable business insights - from procurement and production planning, right through to performance measurements such as DiFot (Delivered in full and on time), contractual requirements, financial forecasting and marketing,” he says.

“Visibility can have a huge impact across the entire business. Not only can you eliminate blindspots and analyse performance, it also allows you to identify bottlenecks in your existing processes and potentially uncover new opportunities.

Malcolm says supply chain technology also allows you to manage providers more efficiently.

“Whether you’re a company that relies on a supply chain or a logistics provider managing a number of service providers and subcontractors within your chain, a supply chain engine can help you better collaborate with your providers and also hold them more accountable given you can benchmark and monitor their performance against contracted service levels.

The key is knowing where to start and using all available data to get the right system upfront for your business.”


Origin can deliver


Origin specialises in helping organisations not only connect their supply chain together to create meaningful context, but also win new contracts and grow their businesses.

We’re experienced in working in the complex supply chain space and helping transport providers take the next step into diversifying their services to meet changing customer needs.

Our team follows a proven methodology to define and configure supply chains and maps all available information and interchanges to create an ‘up-to-the-second’ visualisation of performance.

If you need a supply chain engine to manage your transport logistics, talk to us.