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The Benefits and Challenges of Digital Supply Chain Integration

Benefits and Challenges of Digital Supply Chain Integration
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For many manufacturing companies, maintenance, repair, and operations supply chain performance continues to lag far behind advances in more customer-facing activities. A big part of the reason is that incremental and cyclical changes to the MRO supply chain cannot deliver meaningful and permanent cost savings or productivity enhancements. More comprehensive, enterprise-wide overhauls are required if the supply chain operations are to keep pace with customer service, order fulfillment, delivery, and other “value-added” tasks.

Forward-thinking companies are turning to integration to take advantage of technologies that already are commonplace in financial analysis, customer management, and human resources. Digital supply chain integration strategies harness the power innovations such as big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence, machine learning and augmented reality to:

  • Streamline operations
  • Increase production uptime
  • Lower parts acquisition costs

By digitizing and collecting data from across the enterprise, supply chain integration creates a single version of a company’s performance – sales, efficiency, cost allocations, profit centers and more. Dashboards that process and present this information empower decision-makers to pinpoint production bottlenecks, transform maintenance activities from reactive to preventative and predictive, identify parts redundancies and consolidate sources of supply.

Benefits of Digital Supply Chain Integration

Efficiency rises and costs fall as digital integration automates many inventory, ordering, and scheduling tasks. With fewer manual interventions required, accuracy mounts. Employees can devote more time to strategic and tactical duties rather that duplicating efforts, re-entering data and replicating repetitive tasks. At their best, supply chain integration strategies serve as platforms for buyer-supplier collaborations that allow both partners to optimize:

  • Inventory
  • Delivery
  • Warehousing processes

To achieve true performance improvement, supply chain integration starts with eliminating time-consuming, redundant, and unnecessary processes that erect artificial obstacles to material procurement, order review and reconciliation. And that starts with clean, consistent information collected, categorized and presented into actionable reports. Reliable data will generate several benefits:

  • Faster decisions based on accurate representations of usage, costs, and historical performance.
  • Elimination of effort duplication in which several departments input similar data for different purposes.
  • Less downtime as machine learning and analytical forecasting helps coordinate maintenance and predict part failure.
  • Better use of employee time and lower inventory costs as historical data feeds automation that triggers reorders of replacement machine parts and consumables.

Challenges of Digital Supply Chain Integration

Despite digital supply chain integration’s obvious benefits, there are a few common challenges that go along with the process:

  • Many companies remain mired in mismatched legacy and analog – or even pen-and-paper – systems whose history of minor, incremental improvements cannot keep pace with business operations. Employee and supplier aversion to change, institutional knowledge gaps, and unwillingness to turn over supply chain control to perceived “robot masters” is a common hurdle in the early going. 
  • Silo-based procurement, inventory, and maintenance processes create conflicts among departments whose performance is measured (and often their compensation is determined) based on isolated factors such as work order completion, units produced, on-time delivery, or cost per piece. As a result, cooperation between various factions can be challenging.

Luckily, SDI can help overcome these challenges and make the integration process as smooth as possible.

The SDI Advantage

SDI has extensive experience with helping companies make the transition. Integration does not require in-house build-outs, investment in proprietary platforms, or commitment of huge amounts of space for hardware. SDI’s cloud-based suite can ease the transition and achieve quick results by replacing “we’ve-always-done-it-that-way” processes with connected activities that generate results throughout the enterprise, rather than focusing on individual components.

But SDI also helps customers develop a supply chain integration strategy that makes data more readable and usable. Our software suite addresses every aspect of the supply chain, from master data management through the entire source-to-pay process, and connects it with other critical business functions. Being fully scalable and compatible with SAP and all leading enterprise resource management software, SDI’s digital supply chain solution ensures the availability of critical parts and minimizes the risk of overstock – all while right-sizing inventory. Trust SDI to integrate your supply chain, and your data will work for you by:

  • Centralizing MRO tasks, and corralling information in a single repository.
  • Organizing descriptive and performance reports in master catalogs using unified taxonomies.
  • Building operating procedures governed by data – both automated trigger points and strategic management decisions.

Our experts can show you how integration can connect your company’s entire value chain to inform smarter decisions and better performance.

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