Cloud-Based Analytics for Supply Chain and Workforce Performance

Plex Systems, a developer of cloud ERP for manufacturing, has introduced two new analytic applications designed to provide manufacturers insight into supply chain performance and their workforce.
The new Supply Chain and Human Capital analytic applications build on the library of applications in the IntelliPlex Analytic Application Suite, a broad suite of cloud analytics for manufacturing organizations.

The Plex Manufacturing Cloud is designed to connect people, processes, systems and products in manufacturing enterprises. The goal is not only to streamline and automates operations, but also enable greater access to companywide data. The IntelliPlex suite of analytic applications aims to turn that data into configurable, role-based decision support dashboards–with deep drill-down and drill-across capabilities. The IntelliPlex Analytic Application Suite includes analytics for sales, order management, procurement, production and finance professionals.

IntelliPlex Supply Chain Analytic Application
The new IntelliPlex Supply Chain Analytic application provides a dashboard for managing strategic programs, such as enterprise supplier performance, inventory and materials management and customer success. Metrics include:

  1. On-time delivery and return rates by supplier, part, material, etc.
  2. Production backlog by part group, product time, etc.
  3. Spend by supplier and type, including unapproved spend
  4. Inventory turns and aging based on type, location, etc.
  5. Materials management accuracy, adjustments and trends by type, location, etc.
  6. On-time fill rate, customer lead time, average days to ship, fulfillment by location

Read more at Cloud-Based Analytics for Supply Chain and Workforce Performance

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How IoT logistics will revolutionize supply chain management

As with many other areas of the economy, the digital revolution is having a profound effect on delivery logistics.

The combination of mobile computing, analytics, and cloud services, all of which are fueled by the Internet of Things (IoT), is changing how delivery and fulfillment companies are conducting their operations.

One of the most popular methods for fulfilling deliveries today is through third-party logistics, which involves any company that provides outsourced services to move products and resources from one area to another. Third-party logistics, or 3PL, can be one service, such as transportation or a warehouse, or an entire system that maintains the whole supply chain.

But the IoT is going to change how this process operates. Below, we’ve outlined the impact of IoT on supply chain, and how IoT management will transform inventory, logistics, and more.

Internet of Things Supply Chain Management

One of the biggest trends poised to upend supply chain management is asset tracking, which gives companies a way to totally overhaul their supply chain and logistics operations by giving them the tools to make better decisions and save time and money. Delivery company DHL and tech giant Cisco estimated in 2015 that IoT technologies such as asset tracking solutions could have an impact of more than $1.9 trillion in the supply chain and logistics sector.

And this transformation is already underway. A recent survey by GT Nexus and Capgemini found that 70% of retail and manufacturing companies have already started a digital transformation project in their supply chain and logistics operations.

Asset tracking is not new by any means. Freight and shipping companies have used barcode scanners to track and manage their inventory. But new developments are making these scanners obsolete, as they can only collect data on broad types of items, rather than the location or condition of specific items. Newer asset tracking solutions (which we’ll get into shortly in the next section) offer much more vital and usable data, especially when paired with other IoT technologies.

Read more at How IoT logistics will revolutionize supply chain management

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2016: The Year of Wearable Technology in the Supply Chain

Wearable technology, and the use of cloud software, will become much more widespread across the industry in 2016. The ability to access and input data in real time is the key way in which suppliers will be able to meet the stringent demands of supermarkets.

The adoption of cloud software will be aided by the fact that the price of good quality laptops has fallen below £200, with good quality tablets available for under £50. These prices, which may fall even further in 2016, mean the bar to entry associated with cloud technology in the supply chain has been significantly lowered.

With the ability to put these powerful devices in the hands of everyone, 2015 required us at Linkfresh to think about making core lines of business software available across these devices. That sea change has laid the foundations for what we will see in the industry in 2016.

Supermarkets are pushing suppliers harder than ever, a situation which looks certain to continue throughout the coming year. Dealing with this pressure is the biggest challenge the industry faces.

Read more at 2016: the year of wearable technology in the supply chain

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Cloud Solutions for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Software

Logen Solutions, a software company that specializes in logistics efficiency software, released CubeMaster Online, a comprehensive cloud solution for logistics and software for supply chain management.

CubeMaster Online is a load plan and optimization software, and palletizing and packaging design software that calculates the optimal loads for pallets, trucks, trailers, and sea and air containers. Companies can help reduce 5 to 20 percent of the trucks or container loads used. This can result in significant time and cost savings for many companies.

CubeMaster Online helps facilitate collaboration with teams working together in distribution areas. This collaboration feature presents logistics, engineering, marketing, management and distribution centers with an easy, efficient way to share and control load planning and execution across various geographical areas.

CubeMaster Mobile provides mobile pages built on HTML 5, which enables connection to any service with any mobile devices. This mobile version is designed to run on mobile devices such as iOS and Android tablets and smartphones.

CubeMaster Web Service is the most recent technology to enable the integration of CubeMaster Online with customer applications, such as enterprise resource planning (ERP), warehouse management systems (WMS) and transportation management systems (TMS) at the application level. It allows the remote applications written by ASP, APS.NET, Java, PHP and SAP to call remotely the application program interfaces (APIs) served by the CubeMaster Online server.

Read more at Cloud Solutions for Logistics and Supply Chain Management Software

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Financing the Supply Chain with Big Data

To many, supply chain finance still leans primarily on approved invoices and credit. And yet, over the past 15 years, there’s been a complete transformation in the way financial processes are handled within the supply chain. Fifteen years ago, letters of credit predominated the payment interactions between buyers, suppliers and financial institutions. Financing was arduous and expensive. Today, online, cloud-based platforms are revolutionizing both payment and financing.

Data is the driver. Today, we have unprecedented visibility into all the transactions and interactions that take place in the supply chain. The cloud, as a central information hub, not only can host these interactions and provide a real-time picture of them, but it can also keep long-term records.

This gives financial institutions what they always wanted—a better way to assess risk.

Big Data Financing

Credit rating was historically the key factor for financial providers to assess risk. In many cases, it’s the buyer’s credit rating that counts most, even when the supplier is the one receiving the financing. The problem with credit rating, though, is that it depends on a lot of factors, not just on how reliable a supplier is in delivering goods or how reliable a buyer is in paying on time.

But as far as risk assessment goes, proven transaction history is what lenders prefer to set their decisions and rates upon. But for the longest time, financial providers didn’t have a good way to assess risk independently of credit rating. Now, thanks to big data, they do.

Read more at Financing the Supply Chain with Big Data

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4 ways retailers can improve supply chain management

Retailers and their suppliers are under more pressure than ever before to deliver more goods to more destinations faster.

To stay competitive, “retailers need to know where things are at all times so they can redirect shipments, rebalance inventories and respond to new demands on the fly,” says Rich Becks, general manager, Industry Value Chains, E2open, which delivers cloud-based supply chain collaboration solutions.

And if there is a problem with their supply chain, and they can’t get products to stores and/or consumers, retailers (and their suppliers) risk losing customers.

So what steps can, and should, retailers take to make sure their supply chain operations are running smoothly? Following are four suggestions from retail supply chain experts.

1. Use cloud-based software that can track and manage inventory in real time.

“Retailers struggle to balance uncertain consumer behavior and long, complex supply chains,” explains Kurt Cavano, vice chairman & CSO, GT Nexus, a supply chain technology company.

2. Use source tagging and RFID to keep track of inventory and stock levels.

“To improve supply chain management from the moment product leaves the manufacturer’s warehouse all the way through to the point-of-purchase, retailers should deploy a source tagging solution,” says Steve Sell, director, North America Marketing, Retail Practice, Tyco Integrated Security.

3. Become a part of a B2B e-procurement network.

“B2B [or e-procurement] networks can help companies predict supply chain disruptions and act quickly to adapt business processes,” says Sundar Kamakshisundaram, vice president, Procurement and Business Network Solutions, Ariba, an SAP company.

4. Make sure your marketing and supply chain teams are in sync.

“When executing a promotion, a lot of retailers overlook the alignment of the supply chain and marketing teams, which is crucial [if you want] to successfully launch a promotion,” says Pat Sullivan, senior vice president, Promotions Management, HAVI Global Solutions, a consulting company.

Read more at 4 ways retailers can improve supply chain management

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Cloud-Based Supply Chain Faces Scrutiny

Cloud-Based Supply Chain Faces Scrutiny

As the supply chain looks for new tools to manage increasing complexity, as well as a need to manage risk and other variables quickly and proactively, cloud-based solutions, which are relatively underutilized today, will become more common.

What are some of the common misconceptions around cloud computing and supply chain applications?

Supply chain has generally been a very slow adaptor to new technologies, and cloud computing is no exception. Besides data security and ownership, other factors come into play around how the infrastructure would behave in terms of excess volumes and concerns the in-house IT team may have with feeling helpless when it comes to issues around performance, managing downtime, and handling end customer pressures.

Often, lack of management support is cited as a reason for not adopting cloud technology. Why do you think the corner office is reluctant to support these sorts of initiatives?

Not all senior managers have yet to fully understand the implications of moving into cloud. They still look it as a pure cost saving initiative vis a vis the risks and the litigations they may end up facing in case they encounter issues around their data. Managers would like to hear success stories that [demonstrate that the concerns about] data security are all addressed by big product vendors, which are now moving over to cloud.

What are the best ways that supply chain managers can “speak the language” of business leaders to quantify the potential benefit of cloud-based apps for the supply chain?

The ROI of moving to a cloud-based service is very fast. Customers need not invest in capex for their expensive infrastructure, licenses, and upgrades. This can be very easily worked out. Another factor is that often, companies invest in large IT teams and have to constantly manage them – thereby deviating and investing in a division that is not their core business. By moving to the cloud, they can overcome this by maintaining a lean IT team.

Do you have any personal views about utilizing cloud-based system? What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages?

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