Almost every day in the news we hear of challenges in Supply Chain – here is a recent example: “in a string of disasters we’ve seen plague the global supply chain.” We saw delays not only in necessary supplies such as towels but also in silicon chips and parts.
Supply Chain is very complex and Covid-19 exposed many vulnerabilities.
In this third post on Supply Chain, we shall delve deeper into the Digital Transformation of Supply Chain and Logistics. Exactly what do we mean by “Digital Transformation” and especially as it applies to Supply Chain and Logistics? Many organizations realized they need to accelerate their Digital Transformation strategies and leverage the best tools as well as methodologies for their journeys.
In two previous posts, we highlighted some of the essential pillars of Digital Transformation for the Supply Chain. The first blog focused on Low Code for innovations in Supply Chain. The productivity of stakeholders with Low Code platforms such as LANSA is transformative. It is one of the most important accelerators for digital transformation.
The second blog focused on legacy and ERP modernization via Omnichannel Supply Chain solutions. In a very real sense Digital Transformation is about modernizing legacy cultures, legacy manual work patterns, legacy silos, and legacy systems of records – including ERPs. Here again LANSA Provides modern ERP systems and a Digital Transformation platform for Supply Chain innovation.
Supply Chain Digital Twins
According to Gartner “a digital representation of a real-world entity or system.” Any entity: physical devices, connected devices, people, organization and of course processes or value streams such as a Supply Chain – can have a digital twin. A Supply Chain (SC) is a value stream par excellence. The Digital Twin of the supply chain can provide complete visibility of the entire chain and allow the stakeholders to drill down on details of secondary suppliers or any phase of the complex and convoluted supply chain for more details. Ideall the SC digital twin is real-time and preferably includes visual animation and monitoring. It shows the multi tier supplier network and the flow of goods or parts in the supply chain – potentially identifying bottlenecks. It also shows digitally the status of warehouses, transportation of the parts, and distribution centers.
A SC DIgital Twin can be the starting point of the Supply Chain digital control center to monitor, drill down and take action – or specify digitized rules or processes to be instantiated – upon Supply Chain control parameters such as bottlenecks, potential adverse events, or any problem that impacts the overall performance of the Supply Chain.
There are many advantages of having a robust digital twin for complex applications such as Supply Chain. According to the Industrial Internet Consortium Digital Twins reduce information silos – which are critical in optimizing Supply Chains – from the manufacturers to the customers.
Internet of Things for Logistics and Supply Chain Tracking
We are living increasingly in a connected world. The Internet of Things (with its variants of Industrial Internet of Things and Consumer Internet of Things) is one of the most important pillars of Digital Transformation. The increasingly fast paced and competitive landscape of products and services have necessitated innovative approaches for managing logistics and supply chain. Logistics pertains to distribution and organization of products within an organization. It includes warehousing, logistics, and transportation and is considered part of the overall Supply Chain.
Visibility and robust tracking of raw materials, components, and manufactured goods to distribution warehouses is a great use case for business value from IoT/IIoT – especially with analytics and automation of end-to-end supply chain value streams. Not only are the parts or boxes containing parts connected but the entire movement and logistics tracking could also be traced via connected transportation and logistics. In the top use cases of IoT/IIoT application areas Supply Chain Digital Transformation is perhaps second only to Digital Prescriptive Maintenance. In fact these two use cases are interrelated, as replacement parts for maintenance typically involve supply chain process.
Blockchain for Supply Chains
Supply Chain is the quintessential Extended Enterprise application domain. Interestingly, Supply Chain is also touted as an ideal use-case for Blockchain technologies. Blockchain can be a good backbone for Supply Chain through several essential categories of exchanges or flows: contractual flow, logistics (movement of goods and material) flow, proper documentation flow, and of course, is the foundation of cryptocurrency, the financial transaction flow.
The digitally extended enterprise can have parts, products, suppliers, warehouses, inventory, documentation, tracing, and financial transaction masters stored on the Blockchain to function as an efficient and optimized pipeline. The same data is stored on all the nodes of the decentralized and distributed Blockchain. This includes the data about the multi-tier suppliers, the logistical traces of parts’ movement, the warehousing of components, and delivery to the customers. All organizational, operational, and transactional data between the multiple tiers of the Supply Chain are stored in the Blockchain.
For instance, the MediLedger project started in 2017 to leverage Blockchain specifically for the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA). Leveraging the Blockchain as a master for drug verification is one of the essential areas addressed by MediLedger. The following illustrates the interaction of the participating companies in the FDA pilot request DSCSA project. The Private Nodes of the participants can communicate with each other (peer-to-peer) and share data with their Consensus nodes.
Low Code Master Hub for Supply Chain Digital Transformation
As noted above, we covered Low Code and Omnichannel Modernization of Legacies and ERPs in the previous two blogs. In fact, in the second blog we touched upon the need of a master data strategy for Supply Chains. Every enterprise has challenges with a single version of the Truth across its business units, applications, and value streams.
Silos – in organizations, business units, and applications that they own – are the main reason there are inconsistencies in the information about the same entity: part, supplier, warehouse, transportation, product, or other. Master Data addresses several pain points. Here are a few examples:
- Inconsistencies and poor data quality result in poor, erroneous, and even risky decisions.
- Often different siloed systems contain contradictory information about the same entity. There is a lot of waste attempting to keep heterogeneous data consistent and of high quality.
- Mergers and Acquisitions also create data consistency challenges – to have a single version of the Truth about a customer or offering across the organization.
Fortunately, there is a Digital Transformation solution that can at the same time achieve the objectives of accelerated Low Code development while addressing the needs of end-to-end data integration for Supply Chains (and other enterprise application domains).
With LANSA’s robust platform and solutions you can build quickly and efficiently end-to-end applications via Low Code. This allows the various supply chain stakeholders integrate with various systems of record, leverage LANSAs own modern ERPs for Supply Chain or other applications, and perhaps most importantly achieve all the objectives of a Master Data for Supply Chain (or other) as a Digital Transformation hub – without unnecessary complexity of additional platforms or tools. LANSA’s platform also incorporates intelligent business rules for the data integrity as well as the business rules. Furthermore, its Low-Code service-oriented capabilities allow consumption and production of APIs (such as REST or other) with little coding – all model-driven through its easy to use platforms and tools.