One of the phrases frequently encountered when reading about manufacturing solutions is “supply chain automation.”
We all think we know what this means—it means leveraging technology to improve supply chain velocity, resilience, and responsiveness.
But how do we get there? How can companies move from the notion that supply chain automation is a good idea to an effective deployment?
Elements of Supply Chain Automation
Many companies resist shifting from manual supply chain management processes to automation, but as with many aspects of business, automation adds great efficiency and timesaving to the elements of a supply chain.
Supply chain automation can be used successfully in all parts of the supply chain:
- Project planning
- Raw materials sourcing
- Warehouse, inventory, returns
For example, supply chain automation may be used to:
- Automate BOM production and job scheduling using software that pulls estimates into BOM production and job scheduling. JobOps for Sage 100 is one such platform that integrated with other Sage products and automates this step for improved efficiency.
- Improve visibility into sources for materials, track materials back to individual vendors, and compare prices. ERP software such as Acumatica can connect multiple suppliers and assist with sourcing raw materials.
- Schedule jobs more efficiently and provide customers with better timelines. Automation software can be used for job scheduling to reduce waste in the manufacturing process.
- Track delivery times through your company’s ERP and automate messages to customers alerting them of their order status.
- Utilize barcode scanning software such as Scanco software to make inventory management fully automated and reduce manual stock count errors.
Each element of supply chain automation works together to make a stronger, more efficient whole. Just as links in a chain must be strong individually to form an overall strong, sturdy chain, automating the supply chain’s “links” ensures overall improvements in productivity and efficiency.
Why Speed Is Essential to Supply Chain Management
Process automation throughout the supply chain greatly enhances the speed with which both goods and information can flow throughout the entire chain. The faster goods can move from the wholesaler to the manufacturer, the faster manufacturers can deliver orders and companies can make profits.
Slowdowns in any area of the supply chain have ripple effects that can cause unacceptable delays. If raw goods fail to arrive by the expected date, equipment may remain idle. Every day that equipment remains idle can cost plants tens of thousands of dollars in profitability. Add onto that merchants clamoring for items from manufacturers and disgruntled customers and you can see how speed, visibility, and efficiency are essential to a strong, resilient supply chain.
Digital Transformation Made Easier
The transformation from manual processes to a fully automated supply chain may seem daunting. To get started, evaluate your company’s ERP platform. Is it adding value or slowing you down? If you are using an older system that is no longer supported by the software creator, it may be time to shift to a new, cloud-based platform to ensure your company can take advantage of all the benefits offered by supply chain automation.
With the world still feeling the pinch of supply chain disruption from the pandemic, and threats of continued disruption in some industries due to political and civil unrest in Eastern Europe and the Pacific Rim, any opportunities to improve efficiency should be embraced. Manufacturers will continue to face challenges. Ensuring that your systems are prepared with as much automation as possible will help you be on firm footing to face those challenges and remain profitable.
Emerald TC provides software and consulting for manufacturing companies. Contact us or call 678-456-6919 for more information.