A self-correcting supply chain on the horizon
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
While logistics can answer many burning industry questions, figuring out why the chicken crossed the road isn't usually one of them. However, as Yum Brands recently found out in the UK, it's an important one.
When their new logistics company failed to deliver fresh chicken on time to some 900 KFC locations, those stores were forced to close for the day, costing the company a substantial amount of sales chainwide. And the PR team had to kick into full gear to minimize the damage — even taking out an amusing full-page ad in British newspapers.
When a time-specific issue hits your supply chain hard, it can be difficult to compensate without losing valuable time, particularly when decisions need to be made by several individuals. Introducing automation may be the key to ending shortages — chicken or otherwise — in logistics altogether.
Yum's PR team had to kick into full gear to minimize the damage — even taking out this amusing full-page ad in British newspapers.
The IoT leads the way
Every human "node" the supply chain must pass through translates to additional time, effort and room for error. While certainly capable of crunching numbers and turning out metrics, humans just aren't as consistently reliable as machines when it comes to recognizing patterns. Even the best analysts lean heavily on algorithms to comb through data, and all that input takes time.
IoT devices, on the other hand, quickly and concisely report the data you'll need to make smart supply chain decisions. These devices aren't capable of delivering false promises or making excuses for late shipments, leaving companies with the facts they need to make solid decisions.
If, for example, Yum Brands had used IoT data, they would have quickly realized there was a problem and might have been able to implement a contingency plan. Instead, they had to rely on the 3PL to inform them of the issues in their own time — an arrangement with inherent bias. While a company might decide that it's in their best interests to pivot when supply chain problems arise, if all the power is in the service provider's court, that company has little recourse or remedy.
Beyond annual assessments
Most companies build in assessments of their warehouse and supply chain, and these audits are typically completed about once a year. Imagine how much more accurate those same findings would be if the company were able to compare numbers in a day-to-day arena, rather than year-over-year.
Automated systems help achieve this level of filtering and comparison, doing all of the footwork without the need for human intervention. This means employees can focus on order flow, rather than determining how the customer orders arrived in the first place.
Looming problems with handling or workflow also become much more readily apparent when data is being constantly collected and analyzed. In fact, incorporating software to read and glean insights from metrics gives companies an edge that competitors aren't typically using to their advantage.
The supply chain has a lot of moving parts, but that doesn't mean you'll need to keep active eyes on every juncture. Learn and rely on your technology, and you'll be pleasantly surprised at how interconnected — and accurate — these innovations are.
So don't wait until you become the next larger-than-life chicken story. Brush up on supply chain best practices and get some new, versatile tech knowledge you can use your company's advantage.
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