Data: Keeping supply chains moving

Posted on 17 May 2021 by The Manufacturer

Visibility and clarity are two components essential to operating a multinational manufacturing business. While the world has reeled from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, British manufacturers have had a double hit with the completion of Brexit, adding extra pressure to already strained supply chains.

Supply chains are the most fragile element of the manufacturing process, from receiving raw materials to shipping product to consumer. Any bottle necks or disruptions can have major knock-on effects to the whole business, so visibility and being able to predict when disruption might occur is essential to maintaining a competitive advantage.

According to Logistics Bureau, 79% of companies with high-performing supply chains achieve revenue growth greater than their industry’s average. But the question plaguing manufacturers is how to maintain a high performing supply chain through market disruption?

Providing clarity

Tableau has been helping manufacturers achieve visibility of their supply chains through data driven insights. By leveraging this, manufacturers are able to react to an ever-changing market with speed and agility, unlocking productivity and production gains.

The Manufacturer sat down with James Smith, Regional Vice President at Tableau Software to find out how their leading analytics solution has been helping British manufacturers adapt to new trading conditions with Europe.

James provided an example of one of Tableau’s long-term customers who are a food manufacturer. The company has been using Tableau to analyse their production line data over several years. By working with perishable goods, this adds another time sensitive element to the manufacturing process, so ensuring product arrives on time, is processed, and reaches customers in peek condition is essential.

Data and connectivity now play a vital role in increasing the efficiency of production lines - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
image courtesy of Depositphotos.

James explained how their client has been leveraging this data since Brexit to keep their product moving, he said: “What they’ve had with Brexit is all of a sudden, they found that a lot of their goods are taking longer to ship to mainland Europe. They’re finding that their products are stuck at borders and that’s a problem for them shipping perishable goods.”

He continued: “They are using Tableau to predict how long goods will be stuck at borders. They have built predictive models so they can proactively communicate with customers when shipments might be late and provide an expected delivery date, and are also altering their production volumes based on what’s going to be happening at the border.”

This is helping their client to negate some of the impact Brexit has had on their supply chain and make more informed decisions about their production volumes. They are combining multiple data sets to achieve end-to-end visibility of their supply chain, enabling them to identify risks and test the results of a decision before they have actioned it.

By empowering their workforce to engage with the data effectively, the company has saved both time and money in the process. Most importantly they have kept their supply chain flowing and their products reaching customers in a timely manner. James said: “The more hands on your employees are with the data, the quicker they are able to respond to shocks in the market and the more agility they’ll have, whether that’s in their supply chain or sustainability efforts.”

“By having a good data set it can improve various areas of the business by putting the power of decision making in the hands of the people that understand the business. Giving them an easy-to-use solution that helps them make the right decision quickly and easily.”

Replicating success

Analysing data is essential to be able to react effectively to disruption but does not negate the longer-term damage that can be caused to production, reputation and ultimately customer satisfaction. UK Manufacturers need be prepared to predict or mitigate the problems that will coincide with Brexit, opening European production sites to service the continent is one option organisations will consider.

James explained how this is the case with the food manufacturer through the help of data. “As a longer-term solution they are setting up new factories within mainland Europe, instead of all their production happening out of the UK.”

The company has been analysing the data from their UK factory for over five years and have achieved great success in improving their production line and manufacturing efficiency. James said: “When they set up a new factory in Europe, they’re able to use their existing insight on the new production line, making it as efficient as the production line in the UK, from day one.”

Through the ability to access insights of their entire business, the food manufacturer was able to pivot effectively to avoid any longer-term disruptions to their supply chain and production teams. Having a data driven culture embedded within their manufacturing processes they have been able to replicate this success at multiple sites.

Using Tableau as the driving force behind their business decisions, their employees are empowered to take informed actions that keep their products moving and better service their customer base. Data keeps manufacturing moving and Tableau helps manufacturers make sense of this data to ensure future success.

Download Tableau’s new ebook FREE to find out more ‘Manufacturers: Moving From Complexity to Clarity’.