July 20, 2016

Supply Chain Tested by Customer Expectations

Supply chain executives in all industries, including metals, are living in a world of heightened expectations. Customers, armed with greater knowledge and pressed by their own tight margins, have become more demanding, said Steve Chang, senior vice president of strategy, solutions and service for RMG Networks at this week’s 2016 Supply Chain Technology Conference in Chicago. “Consumers are more informed and more empowered, and they want more of everything,” he said. “It flows through into the supply chain when it comes to demands for more speed, more accuracy and more responsiveness.”

Sadly, those in the supply chain aren’t always able to comply. In his visits to manufacturers and distributors, Chang has seen a number of issues that prevent businesses from meeting their customers’ high expectations. He points to four common technology obstacles to improved productivity and workflow:

• Failure to fully employ information technology. “For all the money being invested in information systems and automation technology, we still have a lot of manual practices taking place,” he says.

• Use of outdated or static information. Even when they have the information, companies often don’t make it available in a way that can deliver results. For example, productivity figures might not be shared in time to allow employees to make the necessary changes to improve performance.

• Siloed operations and functions. “For all the sophistication many companies have, it’s often difficult to know what’s happening in one functional area that could have an impact on another area,” he said.

• Disparate systems. The use of many different systems to track various functions, from process line controls to warehouse management systems, is another impediment. Individual systems are providing useful information, but they aren’t tied together to make optimal use of the data.

Software vendors who supplied articles for this year’s IT Solutions supplement echoed similar themes about how service centers should make better use of their enterprise management systems. Look for the supplement accompanying MCN’s August print edition.


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Thursday, October 19, 2017