Today, there is significant potential for the aluminum industry to take a step forward simply by replacing manual forms of information sharing between stakeholders. The collaborative nature of technology is opening up new opportunities that are limited in traditional spreadsheets and eliminating the need for decisions to be made from different copies or different versions of the truth.
Read the full article in Aluminium International Today here
The challenges (and the opportunities)
It is no secret that many industrial companies rely heavily on spreadsheets and a de-centralized way of planning, sourcing, and managing logistics. This way of working has given rise to the creation of information silos across organizations. Supply chain executives lack complete end-to-end visibility and are hindered from taking early preventive action that could reduce logistics costs from fuel, freight, demurrage, and storage. Even more challenging is the ability for companies to adapt to supply disruptions.
Embracing the cloud
Software solutions that are supported in the cloud have opened up the era of contextual collaboration and empower teams to exchange information in real-time and operate from single versions of the truth.
The ability to see the impact of a change in real-time and prompt stakeholders to react proactively with critical decisions is a key opportunity for the supply chain going forward. Furthermore, improving collaboration should not stop internally. Secure cloud-based solutions supporting external collaboration offer opportunities to improve the flow of information with customers and can afford companies a disruptive competitive advantage.
Bringing data to life
While spreadsheets are powerful for viewing historical data, from a supply chain perspective we are looking into the future and making decisions with information that is available right now.
Solutions that stand out from the rest should not only be capable of modelling that data, but of using it to develop predictions, alternate scenarios and suggest the best course(s) of action to stakeholders. With automation and algorithms holding the potential to reduce manual workloads and duplicate entry, time spent on repetitive tasks will be reduced and freed up time for more value-added work.
Modern technology offers the ability to move from stale data to a live view where information flows continually. Information that is then brought to life with the benefit of logic, rules, and alerts. This should be seen as a key opportunity for companies to move from delayed reactions to a more proactive approach to planning, scheduling, and execution. Proactive responses as the norm will give rise to the creation of predictive logistics models. Planners and schedulers will be able to harness the power of digital platforms to predict risk and proactively adjust plans with the confidence that all stakeholders are notified of adjustments and consequences in real-time.
Empowering us to do better
While digital platforms hold and control data and provide actionable insight - execution remains dependent on human action. Digital platforms should not be considered as an alternative to humans but embraced as a means of empowering us to perform more efficiently. With technology providing sufficient checks and balances to data and auditing decisions, human error can be largely mitigated, and the audited information can be used as an intel for further improvements.
This should be the target state for any industrial company seeking to improve their supply chains through digitization.