Look inwards as information you need to make effective decision is already with you, but you may not see it
Health cum economic crisis has not spared anything that is manmade. Manufacturing is one such sector that is turned on its head by this calamity.
Supply Chain Disruptions
Among major manufacturing challenges during the pandemic, disruption to supply chain tops the list. In the upstream of supply chain critical component suppliers are no longer accessible to due to restrictions on movement, closure of ports or entire facility of your supplier is under quarantine and operation are halted indefinitely. Adopting 80 -20 balance in terms of supplier selection where 80% of goods are sourced from most cost-effective offshore suppliers while the balance is sourced from inshore suppliers who are not the most economical is widely being discussed as a solution.
To categorize your long list of suppliers in to 80% list and to 20% list, you need wide range of statistical information such as geographical dispersion of suppliers, supply lead times and delivery reliability indicators. The equation is not yet complete as it needs criticality of items sourced and possible alternatives.
It is a fact that external environment poses an existential threat to the business but finding correct information on mission critical items or on delivery reliability to counter the threat could be challenge of its own. Gravity of the ‘information challenge’ depends on how far you into your journey of digital transformation. If you are with a formidable ERP system, but still you are not able to readily access the information you need, then it could be question of how you have configured your system. Supply Chain vertical of your ERP together with its supplier relationship management capabilities capture almost all the vital information regarding supply function provided it is correctly configured. Then with help of Business Reporter (BR) and Business Intelligence (BI) modules such data can be processed and visualized through Lobbies and Reports.
Downstream of supply chain poses its own set of challenges. As manufacturer you may be required to directly supply items to customers of your customer instead delivering to your customers’ warehouse. This is a new challenge to your logistics operation as it needs deliver possibly smaller quantities to wide range of geographically distributed locations which at times are not accessible by conventional vehicles you have in your fleet. In this context two types of digital solutions are required. One set of them such as specialized solution that handle reverse logistics and a vehicle tracking and scheduling systems that facilitate smart decision-making and other set of solution such as handheld package scanners and paperless pick lists to increase efficiency. The effectiveness of decision making depends on capturing data, processing data, and dispersing them to correct people as input for decision making to execute daily operation. But involvement of different business applications comes with inherent challenge of integration. Whether to use inbuilt connectivity capabilities of your ERP or to use specialized integration platforms to integrate your ERP with third party business applications is one the first questions that begs answer. On the other question on mobile front is most off the shelf mobile solution are expensive and compatibility of such solutions with realities of your business could be less than desirable.
Critical Asset Management
Apart from supply side challenges, demand fluctuations have forced many of the heavy machinery at factories to complete shutdown. These machines that are designed to run continuously, need to be serviced more frequently in dormant periods. This is a litmus test for the asset management function of the organization on to what extent it is in possession of data on its critical assets. Use of artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and internet of things (IoT) capabilities to predict repair and overhaul needs in advance are success factors for any asset management function.
When society returns to normalcy, productions lines can run at full speed but with half the workforce or at time with just one third of the workforce that manned it before the pandemic. When a smaller number of people needs to do more work efficient material handling, ease in time and quantity reporting are key success factors. During or immediately after the crisis organization are required to produce things that they are not used produce. This shift from perfumes to sanitizers or from designer ware to protective gowns require advance planning of shop floor activities using product structure and routings in your ERP.
In a different context if you are in to manufacturing of personnel protective equipment (PPE) or producer of healthcare equipment, then you may need to scale up operations and run operations in 24X7 basis with employees working in multiple work shifts.
The IT Approach
Be it analysis of geographical dispersion of suppliers, identification of bottle neck items or having integrated asset management system are critical for accurate information processing and taking effective decisions. In a troubled time, your IT budget may not be sufficient to scale up recruitment to handle all different project related to process optimization and purchase all tools to run a digitized operation. This call for IT partner that can provide you with required expertise to configure your ERP so that it serves your information requirements, built correct mobile application to support the work processes and to integrate complementary business applications with your main ERP. Your decision about your IT partner today will define your destiny tomorrow.
To weather the storm, perseverance is the key, but perseverance depends on decisions made. Decisions made is a product of accurate information processing. At SEBSA we ensure that you process right information be it your own or obtained from other proprietary sources and present them to right persons, on time and in simplest manner possible to support agile decision making in new journey toward prosperity.