Penn State’s Center for Supply Chain Research hosted its 2020 Spring Supply Chain Leaders Forum at State College this week, bringing together over 65 supply chain professionals to discuss Supply Chain Innovation: New Products, New Markets and New Processes. Among the presenters were IBM, EY, The Hershey Company, Ahold Delhaize, PSU Faculty and SDI.
SDI’s own Jim Owens, SVP Business Development and Ron Fijalkowski, SVP Digital Supply Chain presented on applied digital technologies beyond e-Procurement software in the procurement space.
Today’s rapid development and deployment of digital technologies and e-Procurement software have the power to bring together fragmented processes and produce integrated solutions. This is especially promising for maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) professionals. The prospect of a digital supply chain completely transforms the way companies manage tail spend, and schedule maintenance, morphing their MRO processes from expensive transactions into strategic investments.
As mobile communications, e-Procurement software, powerful analytical platforms, and expansive cloud computing capabilities become more robust and less costly, there are exciting tools that harness the power of Industry 4.0 to enable procurement professionals to leverage digital supply chain solutions that streamline processes, reduce downtime and operating costs, and enable MRO to add value:
Integrating through APIs enables the client to gain the benefits of custom MRO software with no technology investment, no coding, and no security breach – using a SAP-certified, plug-and-play application. The security of the client’s system is 100% protected and controlled by their standard security practices. The only tasks or transactions that the user can perform are the actions that the client allows in the user set-up process. Systems integrations through APIs ensures all data and transactions meet the requirements of any other user, therefore, only valid transactions can be performed.
Master Data Management
Data can pose some challenges in the stewardship of data. Enterprise data is often hostage to a single master with limited view of sponsor requirements. Focus is typically on standards, rather than use; this leads to poor customer service, maverick inventories, inaccurate classification, and a higher cost of doing business. Clean, quality data, on the other hand, can be used to identify additional opportunities for improvements within the MRO supply chain — supplier reduction, item standardization, reduction of inventory, etc. The benefits extend beyond this to improved uptime and reduction in costs.
e-Procurement Software and eCommerce solutions offer workflow management, user profiles/permissions, delegation of authorities, custom lists and generic catalogs purpose built for MRO and mainstream catalog functions such as lead time, credit cards v. terms, reporting/status notifications, etc. Taking the value of e-Procurement software to the next level to meet consumer expectations for a frictionless user experience is the ability to leverage pricing, transparency into inventory on-hand and across other production sites, suggested purchases and notifications on potential shortages in supply. SDI’s ZEUS e-Procurement software offers a one-stop-shop user experience that drives compliance to procurement protocol, yields enriched data for actionable insights, and provides full visibility into your enterprise buying activities with SDI leveraged pricing.
AI-enabled Inventory Management
The issue with a standard min/max solution in inventory management is that without constant and consistent review, the risks of stock-outs and overstocking of materials is high. Utilizing forecast modelling helps to plan and prevent disturbances in the supply chain, by predictively planning the next purchase and constantly re-evaluating key criteria to ensure that the needed parts will be available when they are needed. To achieve this, we utilize historical data on daily usage and transactions, and develop a replenishment forecast that identifies what items and quantities to order that will reduce total inventory, increase service levels, and lower transportation and receiving costs. Our statistical modeling system draws from 35 different algorithms to apply the best model, such as moving average, like PPE; seasonal trends, like road salt; and low volume, like critical spares, to predict demand.
Procurement Automation using Robotic Process Automation provides value-added efficiency enhancements and improves the customer experience. SDI’s ZEUS platforms runs RPA software called SourceGOAT. SourceGOAT allows our sourcing professionals to simply upload the details of the items they need sourced, and SourceGOAT’s bots will reach out to our strategic partners’ catalogs to identify suitable sources, compare web data to the input data, ensure like for like matches, and prepare pricing for upload. SourceGOAT eliminates the manual work of searching for items across multiple supplier websites to obtain quotes, eliminating human error. With multiple servers running continuously, SourceGOAT makes tens of thousands of queries per day—solving previously unsolvable problems.
Artificial Intelligence enables more predictable sourcing by taking company-specific structured and unstructured data, and running it through an AI layer that classifies request and searches the vendor pool to identify a pool of relevant suppliers and stack rank them. Once a purchase is made from the selected supplier, vendor participation, buyer review and award, automated categorization, and post-purchase feedback feeds into the platform activity data that in turn feeds back into the AI layer, so it learns and becomes more predictive. This means the quoting process begins to become more automated and assisted buying is enabled on a very quick learning curve with a modular plug-in.
Advanced analytics in MRO supply chain enables access to all data, connecting structured and unstructured data from multiple data sources and ERPs, making it scalable and distributable. The most valuable data Analytics platforms like ZEUS have frequent refresh rates that enable near-real time decision making and give clients the ammunition to ask the right questions for “what’s next?”
Enabling a more connected enterprise
SDI leverages a wide range of technologies to enable our digital supply chain services. We can tailor software and harness our expertise to build the right solution to solve even your toughest MRO challenges. Contact us today for a quick conversation around your organization’s pain points to find the solution that’s best for you. We can take time to understand the challenges facing your front-line MRO staff and supervisors.