Information Systems: The Foundation to Supply Chain Automation and Digitization
Published on 15 December 2021
At Generix Group, we know that information systems are the foundation to a supply chain’s automation and digitization. However, many companies still lack them, either because they see their implementation as a complicated challenge, or because they are unaware of service companies that can help them, or because they believe the costs of such services are prohibitive.
For that reason, we wanted to interview Ignacio García, Sales Director at Generix Group Spain. Thanks to his extensive experience in these matters, Mr. Garcia is in a great position to help and guide companies select the technology solutions best adapted to their requirements and available capital.
Why is it so important for companies to invest in good software? And why should they see it as a source of savings?
A supply chain is made of various segments, from transportation to warehouses to relationships with suppliers, etc. All these segments are like a company’s organs. For the entire body to move efficiently, the health of each organ is key – and this is becoming increasingly true. The markets’ evolution, both in the consumer market, with the rise of eCommerce, and the industrial market, where the pressures on manufacturing activities are felt more and more, increases the need for better logistics capabilities every day. Today, it is simply impossible to meet these demands without the right tools. It’s not just a question of savings, which these solutions will indeed achieve, but a question of survival in the medium term. Management solutions (WMS, TMS, VMI, EDI, etc.) not only lead to significant productivity improvements and savings, but they are also essential to a company’s ability to respond to market demands.
What solutions do you recommend for real time control and visibility in the transport and warehousing segments: inventory management applications, breakdown, or downtime alarms?
Achieving visibility over your supply chain can be compared to building a house: you must first lay solid foundations on which to build. In this case, it’s all about having the right management tools from which to extract information from your supply chain. That’s the first step on the way to optimizing an operation’s processes. The pillars of supply chain visibility are a specialized WMS in all warehouses, a transport management system (TMS), and an order management system fully integrated with the customers’ and suppliers’ platforms through EDI or purchasing portals.
Once these pillars are in place, you can build. Platforms such as Generix collect all the information and make it easily available to every agent in the chain, from suppliers to end customers. That enables companies and their management to view the status of their orders from suppliers, monitor an order’s progress through the warehouse, and remain informed of transport status with all the relevant information: status, dates, quantities, etc. The operational benefits are obvious, especially where service levels and quality are concerned.
How do you assess the current market situation? How well implemented are these technologies in supply chains, to what levels?
We’re now used to seeing that kind of interface in the consumer goods industry, where companies can easily consult their status order. More and more, we’re also seeing it in more industrial sectors. There’s a variety of very interesting examples that range from the purchase and delivery planning of reinforced concrete, where concrete mixers can be traced from beginning to end, to industrial manufacturing sectors: automotive, heavy equipment, aeronautics, etc.
In the direct-to-consumer sector, we can safely say that these solutions are widely implemented. However, these typically focus on the final part of the logistics flow, which means that there is still a lot of room to improve visibility with suppliers, transporters, etc. Lately, that’s where we’ve been seeing the most interest from the market.
One last note on this topic: the pandemic and the resulting problems and tensions we’ve seen in maritime transport have highlighted the importance of resilience and visibility for supply chains. In the coming years, this will bring a shift in focus where these technologies – together with strategies for the diversification of suppliers, the elaboration of contingency plans, etc. – will be seen as a necessary tool to gain the flexibility and security needed in the face of such events.
What projects are you currently working on?
The projects we’re seeing the most these days are platforms that combine transport tracking, integration with carriers, stock visibility (inhouse or at suppliers), procurement, and the likes. And that, in a variety of industries and in different segments of the supply chain. There’s far too many to list, so let me try to give you a sample of the most noteworthy – as most of them are consumer transport visibility projects, I’ll concentrate on other examples that I think are particularly interesting.
Manitou is a good example. They are a global manufacturer of forklifts and they’ve recently launched a visibility platform for their entire supply chain. It encompasses suppliers and manufacturing facilities around the globe and provides visibility to its entire sales network and customers over available stocks as well as on the delivery dates of new equipment.
Another very interesting project is the platform that was implemented by a leading water management company. They had two main objectives. First, they wanted to facilitate the work and planning of its infrastructure maintenance teams. Second, they wanted to enable their teams to respond more efficiently to urgent breakdowns. Thanks to their new platform, they now have global visibility over their stock of parts, both in their different warehouses and at their suppliers of construction material, which enables them to rapidly relocate their inventory in the event of urgent breakdowns. It also facilitates procurement processes, which drastically reduces its global stock. Thanks to better stock management, that company is enjoying significant savings and has drastically improved work execution, which leads to far better response times and efficient incident resolution.
Generix Group North America provides a series of solutions within our Supply Chain Hub product suite to create efficiencies across an entire supply chain. Our solutions are in use around the world and our experience is second-to-none. We invite you to contact us to learn more.