Comment: Industry 4.0 is disrupting the supply chain for good

The impact of Industry 4.0 could easily be identified as a threat and a disruptor to the traditional supply chain. The truth is that, when deployed correctly, this dynamic combination is the antidote to supply chain disruption.

In 2016, global supply chains were impacted by a series of unfortunate natural disasters including earthquakes and typhoons that ravaged nations throughout Asia. In 2015, analysis by insurance firm Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty found that between 2010 and 2014, the top five causes of business interruption loss globally were fires and explosions, storms, machinery breakdowns, faulty equipment or materials, and workforce strikes.

Current events that are continually unfolding must also be considered, such as the economic nationalism propelled by the election of Donald Trump and the UK’s impending exit from the European Union. However, there are less dramatic situations that can cause supply chain disruption on a more frequent basis – small acts than have a large impact, such as human error causing delays on the production line. This creates an obvious knock-on effect that directly impacts the rest of the supply chain.

It is clear that the supply chain is vulnerable to disruption. The traditional supply chain ecosystem is built around a rigid process that does not provide supply chain organisations with the flexibility to adjust to disruptions that will impact the bottom line, or the opportunity to predict or prepare for those disruptions.

The traditional process is typically governed by inaccurate analysis of the market that dictates supply chain operations in order to meet the predicted sales. A digitised reinvention of the supply chain will replace this inaccurate, siloed process with a flexible and agile solution that utilises data to severely diminish the impact of disruption.

Industry of Things

The moniker Industry 4.0 represents the fourth industrial revolution which in turn refers to the rise of data exchange and automation in manufacturing technologies. ‘Internet of Things’ (IoT) is a similar term that supports the same notion of the world becoming more connected and is widely used to describe connected devices used in both industrial and domestic environments. In theory, connected devices, whether in a factory or in the home, bring all of these environments together to create one interconnected eco-system.

Disseminating the data

From the shop floor to the factory floor, each connected device provides important data that can be fed into the digitised supply chain. To be of true value, this data must be tracked and visualised. Visibility is a key area of focus in leveraging data in the evolution of Industry 4.0, and it’s equally as important in the supply chain. Once the data is feeding into the supply chain and clearly visualised, the organisation can begin to think about disruptions before they occur. This can be achieved by manipulating the data in three key areas; supply chain design, event simulation and decision support.

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Global supply chain threatened by terror and flow of migrants

Supply chains are suffering a rise in costs and multiple disruptions due to the reintroduction of border controls in Europe and the rise of radical Islam in the Middle East.

The Charted Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) – with a presence in 150 different countries – confirms that ISIS activity and Russia’s rigid attitude in world politics have contributed to the heightened risk.

Meanwhile, the migrant crisis is making some European countries close their borders, as is happening in Hungary, Croatia and Slovenia. Crossing the border in these countries can take up to 90 minutes, while other activities such as the transport of livestock have stopped entirely for several days in the past month.

This supply chain issue has caused the delivery prices for some German companies to rise by as much as 10 per cent and has increased the risk of the supply chains in other several countries of the Middle East and North Africa, such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Turkey and Tunisia.

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Six trends changing the face of supply chain finance

Six trends changing the face of supply chain finance

Supply chain finance is revolutionising the way companies buy and sell, but its full potential has yet to be realised.

The amount of cross-border SCF conducted today is just a tenth of what could be done say European banks. One reason is the complexity of SCF. However innovations in both developed and emerging economies promise to change that modest uptake in the coming years.

Making SCF easier to use and understand is essential if it is to become the norm in financing global trade. Several trends should speed that process:

1. SCF is becoming widely accepted in cross border trade

Bankers expect the European and US crossborder markets to grow 10-20 per cent a year for the rest of this decade. Already some banks have seen annual growth of 30-40 per cent andin the UK and Germany that figure is closer to 70 per cent, according to Demica.

2. More buyers are financing their suppliers

SCF has traditionally focused more on the relationship between suppliers and their banks. This is changing. New technology is helping buyers use SCF to help their strategic suppliers at better rates than they might find elsewhere, thanks to often higher credit ratings.

3. Non-bank players are emerging as an alternative source of SCF

New entrants, including peer-to-peer lenders, dynamic discounters and early payment marketplaces help buyers and suppliers exchange purchase orders, invoices and accelerate cash transfers. Private investors, financial institutions or even buyers provide funding for these new solutions to invest in their own payables.

4. Providers unite to offer a global service

Fragmented banks are recognising the need to partner logistics companies, local banks, export credit agencies and other transaction banks to offer corporates solutions across the supply chain. That is a change from the more fragmented approach until now.

5. Technology is replacing the paperwork

Electronic documentation is playing an ever greater role in international trade business as corporates automate trade supply chains toimprove speed and efficiency. That means corporates who use a number of banks require them to deliver electronic solutions on a common platform.

6. Countries are getting involved

Governments around the globe are paying more attention to supply chain finance. The UK for instance has initiated an SCF programme with some of Britain’s leading companies and banks. In the US, the Treasury’s Invoice Processing Platform uses electronic invoicing to ensure that suppliers are paid on time or even early.

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