How intelligent automation will impact and revitalise global supply chains

The idea of automation in manufacturing and the supply chain is nothing new – since the earliest days of the industrial revolution we have sought to automate tasks with machines, and lower the cost of manufacturing processes.

In countless cases, the application of machines, and more recently software, has meant improvements in the consistency of products, facilitated near 24/7/365 production and has meant staff can be focused on higher value tasks in their company.

Yet the use of technology in the industry may not be fully understood; a recent Capgemini survey showed that nearly half (48%) of UK office workers are optimistic about the impact automation technologies can have. However, while respondents to the survey had a general idea of the benefits that might accrue, they were less clear as to how these technologies could be applied to their specific area of work. And worryingly, only 20% said they felt their organisations were currently benefiting from automation – clearly the industry is missing a trick.

However, as utilisation stagnates for certain companies, the market is maturing. Automation is now reaching far beyond simple process software and mechanisation. Technologies such as the Internet of Things (IoT), cognitive computing, advanced robotics, Digital Fabrication and blockchain are becoming increasingly popular, bringing together the power of automation and analytics.

Yet other areas such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, which are proven enablers for new ways of optimizing the supply chain and manufacturing processes, are less understood. It’s agile, forward-thinking businesses that are able to utilise these technologies in a thoughtful way that will reap the benefits.

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One-Page Data Warehouse Development Steps

Data warehouse is the basis of Business Intelligence (BI). It not only provides the data storage of your production data but also provides the basis of the business intelligence you need. Almost all of the books today have very elaborated and detailed steps to develop a data warehouse. However, none of them is able to address the steps in a single page. Here, based on my experience in data warehouse and BI, I summarize these steps in a page. These steps give you a clear road map and a very easy plan to follow to develop your data warehouse.

Step 1. De-Normalization. Extract an area of your production data into a “staging” table containing all data you need for future reporting and analytics. This step includes the standard ETL (extraction, transformation, and loading) process.

Step 2. Normalization. Normalize the staging table into “dimension” and “fact” tables. The data in the staging table can be disposed after this step. The resulting “dimension” and “fact” tables would form the basis of the “star” schema in your data warehouse. These data would support your basic reporting and analytics.

Step 3. Aggregation. Aggregate the fact tables into advanced fact tables with statistics and summarized data for advanced reporting and analytics. The data in the basic fact table can then be purged, if they are older than a year.

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6 Steps To Supply Chain Risk Management Success

6 Steps To Supply Chain Risk Management Success

Lean production may traditionally be considered the linchpin that holds successful supply chain management together, but reducing your exposure to risks is becoming a key priority for maritime companies.

Our dependence on, and partnerships with suppliers, whether it be via outsourcing or mitigating stock opens up a whole world of exposure for marine businesses and their procurement teams. That’s why risk management is so crucial to the supply chain.

Navigating risks really is the key to management success. With the global expansion of supply chains comes ever more complicated business structures and so countless issues can arise causing disruption, delays and ultimately money going down the drain.

Both buyers and suppliers can be hit by a number of unavoidable problems. From natural disasters to terrorism or cyber attacks. Each problem can have big effects on both upstream and downstream partners.

So what can you do to mitigate risk?

The best way to reduce exposure is to make sure you and your company keep up to date with developments in the maritime sector. And to follow a few key steps…

1. Choose your suppliers carefully

Conduct audits of your suppliers on a regular basis and if necessary, inspections to make sure they are committed to risk management like you are.

2. Authenticate suppliers’ insurance cover

It’s worth remembering that a certificate of insurance is only evidence of the insurance cover as it was when it was written.

3. Clearly define contract scopes and draft contracts

Be careful when defining contract scopes and draft contracts.

4. Understand the extent of your exposure

How much risk are you and your business exposed to?

5. Put a plan in place

Identifying risks is the easy part, now you have to get an action plan in place.

6. Lower the threat of risk by purchasing the right cover

Making sure your policy covers your company’s specific exposure mix and risk tolerance is important.

Do you have any ideas to add regarding risk management in supply chain? Share your opinions in the comment box or send us a message for discussion.

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