In such uncertain times, any change that increases the predictability, visibility and reliability of the flow of goods and materials in the electronics manufacturing supply chain can only be a positive one. If, however, you are still unsure about whether across-the-board digitalisation is really necessary, here is some food for thought…
1. Digital supply chains are more resilient
Digitalisation can increase visibility throughout your entire supply chain, which makes it easier to identify risk at every point of the supply chain and respond before delays occur. Supply chains that invest in automation and new technology are also more resilient in times of disruption because they are less reliant on physical labour and certain processes can continue outside of working hours.
2.Digital means increased
Visibility is increased in a digital supply chain, and this brings more than just increased resilience. End-to-end visibility and transparency are increased without the need for user input, instead using low-code automation platforms to provide access to real-time information to all businesses involved. This information can include manufacturing progress reports, location of parts and delivery status, meaning supply chains can work to more accurate timeframes.
3. Digital supply chains have a competitive advantage
A digitalised supply chain can give manufacturers an advantage over competitors because it enables them to manufacture products more efficiently and deliver a better service for the end user. Increased visibility, traceability and communication throughout the supply chain results in fewer supply issues, and automated warehousing processes help to create products much quicker and with a reduced risk of error.
4. You can generate data-driven plans
Digitalising your supply chain gives you access to more data and more opportunities to put that data to good use. For example, analytics and data visualisation can benefit activities such as demand forecasting.
Combining intelligent algorithms and historical data allows you to predict customer trends, giving you more time to source the components to meet that future demand. This is particularly useful for orders that use hard-to-source components and those that are currently experiencing a shortage.
5. Warehouses are more efficient
A digitalised warehouse is more operationally efficient through the use of AI systems, automation and improved access to data. AI systems can work out the shortest, most efficient walking routes through the warehouse and they can also be used to better position the inventory for ease of access to the most popular parts. Robotics can be used for loading and unloading pallets, moving cargo and more, resulting in a far more streamlined warehouse.
6. It is easier to manage inventory
Digital stock management is more efficient and less susceptible to human error. Stock levels can be monitored remotely and in real time, and parts or compontents can be automatically ordered once stock drops below a set level.
With traditional ordering methods, it is easy to underorder or miss a delivery date, which could result in the loss of a sale if a product is out of stock. On the other hand, overordering can result in excess stock that could become obsolete and need offloading, and at the least will result in additional storage costs.
7. Transit becomes more efficient
Cloud-based GPS and BLE asset tracking increases the availability of data for supply chains, providing real-time insights into the status and location of assets, even when they are in transit. The efficiency of the fleet can also be drastically improved by analysing route efficiency and traffic conditions.
8. Labour can be used more
By investing in automation technology, employees can be put to work more efficiently. Automation programs can take over many menial and administrative tasks (and even complete them outside of business hours), while employees can focus on the more complex tasks that only they can do, meaning that more important work can be completed during a typical shift.
Employees also won’t have to work longer hours to complete these routine tasks, where increased fatigue could increase the occurrence of costly errors.
To sum up…
Digitalisation is essential for any manufacturing business that wants to remain competitive in the modern climate. As these benefits demonstrate, the question is not ‘should you make your supply chain digital?’, but ‘how soon can you start?’.
About the author
Jeff Brind is the Chief Information Officer at Rebound Electronics,
a privately-owned independent electronic components distributor experienced in supply chain management.