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What is Successful Supply Chain Visibility?

Any increased visibility into your operations is an improvement. But truly successful supply chain visibility allows you to not only see what’s happening but respond effectively and quickly. Successful visibility has to permeate your own enterprise and also enable you to see into your outsourcing partners or other suppliers.

ruggedized tablet supply chain warehouseThat’s the only way you can all coordinate your efforts to function smoothly in the best of circumstances and quickly identify and recover from problems when less-desirable situations occur. In fact, it’s that ability to rapidly locate and deploy alternative resources that can keep you working when a lesser system could falter or simply grind to a halt.

Companies reliant on the movement of goods have learned that providing their personnel with mobile tablet computers or appropriately ruggedized tablet PCs ensures everyone is able to capture or retrieve data right when they need it. That streamlines processes, making them faster and more accurate.

But if you don’t have the right set of applications – or if they aren’t fully integrated to work together seamlessly – you’ll still have dangerous visibility gaps.
Successful visibility supports agility.

Companies usually cite globalization as the primary cause of increasing logistics complexity. On top of that, you’re facing critical but seemingly conflicting needs to improve speed and accuracy while reducing costs.

You need to be able to collect data immediately and make it instantly available to anyone who needs it, anywhere throughout your supply chain, so you’re in a position to deal with whatever comes your way, whether it’s a small glitch or a natural disaster that cuts international supply lines. That requires:

• Connectivity that facilitates communication. Emerging “trading network technology” enables uniform communication among differing systems to avoid potentially costly delays. And it’s comparatively affordable, so even your smaller partners can participate. 

• Data that’s universally accessible to anyone along your supply chain who needs it. You can block proprietary data, if necessary. Of course it’s important to see what you have at hand, but it’s the ability to see what’s in transit that keeps you agile so you can avoid or respond to problems as quickly and effectively as possible.

• Immediate notification of problems. Even if you manage to assemble the perfect network, there’s too much data for your people to process efficiently. Successful visibility comes from automated assistance in the form of instant alerts if a problem occurs, based on pre-defined parameters. Better yet, a system that helps you manage certain kinds of events automatically by re-directing itself can minimize negative impact.

• Data that’s easy to analyze. Having information is one thing, having it displayed on your tablet PCs screen in a way that’s quick and easy to assimilate enables your people to evaluate situations and respond better and faster. Automated systems can perform calculations and comparisons so humans can concentrate on identifying trends and causal relationships. Ideally, users should be able to configure analytics displays according to individual need.

• Integration. Supply chain visibility and execution have to work hand-in-hand or you’ll still face blind spots. Knowing there’s a problem is a good start, but if you can’t quickly and effectively resolve it, you’re not much farther ahead.

Successful visibility allows you to gather and use the data you need, to recover from supply chain disruptions and – the ultimate goal -- avoid them altogether. Visibility enables you to boost service levels and eliminate recurring problems. That means you can reduce inventory and lower costs. Successful visibility helps you find the right balance among functional and financial requirements, to be more profitable instead of risking competitiveness.


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