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Overcoming supply chain visibility challenges for enhanced efficiency

Maintaining visibility is increasingly challenging as raw materials and goods move through a supply chain. Fragmentation, silos, and data deserts have persisted within many industries, hindering the seamless flow of data and insights.

Assessing your supply chain visibility

Assessing your supply chain visibility is a crucial first step. A visibility gap in supply chain operations refers to the lack of real-time or accurate information regarding the status, location, or condition of goods and processes within the supply chain. This gap can disrupt effective decision-making, reduce efficiency and increase risks.

Learn more: The role of visibility in achieving supply chain resilience

The reality of inventory accuracy

In warehouse management, an astonishing 6,000 hours are dedicated annually* to seemingly straightforward tasks such as cycle counts and stock checking. However, our global warehouse deployment experience reveals a stark contrast between perceived and actual inventory accuracy, and consistency between site performance within the same network.

Despite the significant investment of time and effort, these 6,500 hours still often result in data gathered in partial fragments, at a single moment in time. The dynamic nature of the warehouse environment means this fragmented data quickly becomes stale. It may function as an expensive method to spot-check, but it is insufficient for maintaining any sense of real-time accuracy. The challenge lies in the constant movement and changes within the warehouse, leading to a disconnect between the perceived accuracy, often based on outdated or incomplete information, and the reality on the floor.

This gap underscores the need for more effective and dynamic inventory management solutions that can adapt to the evolving nature of warehouse operations.

For example, while many customers boast about achieving 99% accuracy, the data collected and fed into DexoryView, Dexory’s digital twin & AI platform, can tell a different story. This typically highlights an initial data accuracy range of 91 to 95%.

This discrepancy has tangible consequences, with customers spending an average of 24 minutes to resolve each discrepancy - a substantial drain on efficiency, especially considering the scale and underlying value of efficient warehouse operations.

Watch: How Maersk saved 2hr/day average by quickly locating items

Overcoming challenges: Addressing the intelligence gap

Building a resilient and well-balanced supply chain hinges on visibility. Consistent access to fast and reliable information across the entire business landscape supports company strategy. Ultimately, the visibility gap is synonymous with an intelligence gap. Challenges in determining data types, ensuring accuracy and continuity, and translating insights into actionable steps make obtaining comprehensive visibility a complex puzzle.

One fundamental challenge lies in determining what data needs to be collected. The modern supply chain generates immense data from different sources, making it complex to identify and gather the most relevant information.

Acquiring data is just the first step; translating it into actionable insights and strategies is crucial. Many companies struggle with this transition, creating roadblocks to developing effective strategies based on acquired intelligence.

Identifying blind spots

Blind spots can emerge at any juncture in the supply chain, from the conceptualisation of a product to its journey to the end customer. Warehouses, being hubs of numerous processes, people, and machinery, are often focal points where visibility tends to falter.

Issues such as accurate inventory tracking and stock level discrepancies highlight the need for enhanced visibility solutions to ensure a seamless flow of information throughout the supply chain.

Read more about how new technologies such as Digital Twin allow a deeper understanding of your operations.

Conclusion: Recommendations and opportunities

Advanced robotics technology offers a promising solution, leading to a rapid increase in accuracy. However, addressing the efficiency drain also demands swift action when discrepancies arise, underscoring the importance of not only improving accuracy but also

implementing efficient processes for timely resolution.

Explore all our recommendations to achieve full visibility over your operations

* Over 6,000 hours per year wasted on basic stock checks - Unipart Customer Discovery [2022].

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This company has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement number 849938