The Cloud is here, whether we like it or not – most of us are fairly ambivalent, by the way. We are all aware of, if not users of, on-demand or Cloud online banking, ticket services, social network services in our personal lives. In our working lives, we are increasingly using Cloud-based CRM, HR and even ERP solutions. Even in the logistics and supply chain world, the Cloud is making its presence felt, driving supply chain visibility and collaboration.
And this is happening in small- and medium-sized companies, often with little or no internal IT resources. This phenomenon is what we refer to as the democratization of software.
The “supply chain execution-as-a-Service” vision.
Supply Chain VISIBILITY and COLLABORATION have been discussed for many years now. The world wide web and the innate characteristics of the internet almost dictate that people and organisations have to communicate and start to collaborate. Web-enabled enterprise solutions and email (usually plus Excel spreadsheet attachment) are still the order of the day for many organisations, especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SME’s). Don’t knock it, it works. And the alternatives, if there are any, are expensive. Here’s where the “supply chain execution-as-a-Service” (SCEaaS) vision comes in.
In the important UK supply-to-Retail sector, especially food and beverage, there are many pressures being bought to bear on suppliers, regardless of their size and level of IT sophistication. These pressures take the form of compliance with Retailer standards, regulation and legislation and maintaining margin in the face of ever-changing and competitive market conditions. The value proposition of SCE as a Service can be summarized as follows:
the capability to communicate and collaborate with suppliers and customers to ensure visibility and continuity of raw materials and finished goods supply, while optimizing supply chain processes all while complying with Retailer labeling and ASN standards and applicable regulation.
The SideUp Supply Chain Execution solution is a suite of tools, available as an integrated suite or as standalone modules, all with rapid deployment capabilities and a single, pay-as-you-go monthly usage payment model. SCE as a Service offers support for the following processes:
• Web-based management of suppliers, including creation and labeling of inbound loads, load plans and inbound Advanced Shipping Notifications (ASN’s);
• Inbound and outbound appointment scheduling, gate and dock management, KPI reporting;
• Warehouse management of raw and packaging materials, including receiving, putaway, full date code and inventory management, picking to production orders, management of production remnants and WIP, supported by paper and radio frequency;
• Visibility of production inventory across multiple sites and/or buildings for materials planners both within the enterprise and at vendors/suppliers’ sites. Suggested purchase orders based on available and ideal inventory levels. Supplier/vendor co-managed inventory and ability to propose purchase orders. Configurable traffic light system allows materials planners to focus on exceptions and emergency items. Out of date code alerting. KPI’s.
• Finished goods warehouse management, including receipts from production, automated putaway or cross dock based on shortages and order fulfillment requirements, full date code and inventory management, wave and shipment planning, picking, marshaling, loading and shipment close. Reports and KPI’s. Retailer/SSCC label and ASN compliance. Paper and Radio Frequency support.
• Support for cross-dock and hub operations.
• Proof of delivery, including loading of routes onto smartphone or Android devices, multi-level check-in and check-out at cross dock hubs and depots. Electronic signature capture.
Supply Chain Execution-as-a-Service is a reality. The complete picture regarding qualitative and quantitative benefits is still emerging, but the initial results are highly encouraging. Most encouraging of all is that this technology is rapid to deploy and relatively inexpensive to run, especially for Small- and Medium-sized Enterprises and their suppliers. Without getting carried away, there is a window of opportunity for these smaller (and often more nimble and innovative companies) to catch up with and even leap-frog their larger traditional competitors. This democratization of high value enabling solutions even lends itself to rapid piloting or “try before you buy”. Now, that is certainly something to get excited about!