Here's How Siemens Is Building a Digital Supply Chain Tower
Brought to you by WBR Insights
The act of getting a product from one place to another is more complex than ever before. Whether it's sending goods down the line to a customer or procuring them for your own business, managing an effective supply chain is one of the core tenets of modern business.
This complexity is determined by several factors. The number of companies the goods must pass through to reach their destination, the geography of the journey, government regulations, legal considerations, industry standards, and more must all be considered and accounted for by stakeholders.
As a multinational supplier of technology covering everything from engineering to healthcare, Siemens understands these needs better than most and is embarking on a digital transformation journey to create real-time boosts to its supply chain tower.
Due to the global nature of the modern marketplace, there is a strong need for each element in contemporary supply chains to be in constant communication with one another.
"With so many stakeholders, it becomes imperative that each of them remains connected and in continuous communication," said Siemens Digital Industries Head of Intralogistics Innovation UK, Scott Read. "The supply chain ecosystem is very advanced and digitalized, and we hear logistics experts talk about the supply chain 'control' tower. It is true that with new technologies we get a bird's eye view of movement of products from vendor to customer and every other phase of its journey."
In the modern digital arena, this communication is achieved through the Internet of Things. Using this technology, companies can connect every element of their supply chain to each other. Warehouses, depots, wholesalers, and more can all generate huge volumes of data and then put it to work on the stakeholder's behalf.
Data captured in this way can help boost the performance and availability of every part of the supply chain and make inefficiencies easy to identify and address.
"Cloud computing operating systems enable organizations to harness the wealth of data generated by the IoT with advanced analytics," adds Read. "Data analysts have the capability to collect information from all areas of the warehouses or depots and across networks to support management operations decisions. This not only increases visibility, but also creates key opportunities for collaboration across machines, and machines and humans. Data can be transformed into knowledge resulting in informed business choices."
When it comes to procuring the products a business needs to carry out its role, it is essential that the supply chain runs smoothly and those products reach their destination in good time. A business may be able to survive without a fresh supply of staples or pencils for a time, but delays in receiving more business-critical items - especially ones which are unique and cannot simply be picked up from a local store - can cause serious damage to productivity and, ultimately, profitability.
To help facilitate this new way of operating supply chains - both within and without its organization - Siemens has developed its own proprietary IoT operating system.
Dubbed Mindsphere, the platform can perform all the complex data analytics already described above - and so much more besides. It is also able to include factors such as weather reports and traffic congestion data to the mix and use them to build models to help manage risk along every phase of the supply chain. If that wasn't enough, Mindsphere has the power to identify energy-based inefficiencies within the supply chain, helping to identify areas in which consumption can be reduced - making for a more sustainable business.
However, IoT isn't the only Industry 4.0 technology transforming supply chains. Everything from 3D printing to artificial intelligence is being deployed to create more effective methods of getting goods from point A to point B.
"There is a huge range of other digital tools available to logistics companies, including 3D printing and RFIDs [radio-frequency identification]," said Read. "3D printing has the potential to disrupt the supply chain by enabling warehouses to print 3D commodities and eliminating the need to have finished product stacked in warehouses. 3D printing could also be used to produce spare parts for assets on site."
AI allows data to be processed faster than ever. It also enables the machines carrying out those analyses to get better at their jobs the more they do them. RFID allows for lightning-fast order checking as quantities can be scanned in a single moment, allowing orders to get to the hands of those who need them without delay.
With Mindsphere and other Industry 4.0 technology in its toolbox, Siemens can make sure every element of its supply chain is running at maximum efficiency and that all products get where they need to be in the quickest and most efficient manner possible.
You can hear Siemens Canada's Head of Procurement, Uwe Dienst, speak at ProcureCon Canada 2020, taking place in May at the Marriott Toronto at CF Eaton Centre, ON.
Download the agenda today for more information and insights.