Supply Chain Automation: What is it and how can it benefit me?

Posted on 27 Sep 2021 by The Manufacturer
Partner Content

With efficiency, certainty and waste reduction being absolutely key elements of a manufacturers supply chain, Bizagi tells us how automation can assist.

If your factory is the heart of your organisation, then your supply chain is the veins and arteries. Your operational efficiency depends on everything being connected to deliver a reliable service.

However, many organisations have built up a patchwork of legacy systems, with gaps between applications leaving a disconnect in the supply chain, which can lead to inefficiencies, lack of visibility and general uncertainty.

Supply chain automation provided by a low-code automation platform can automate tasks within the end-to-end supply chain and connect systems for a 360-degree view of operations.

What is supply chain automation?

Supply chain automation is the use of digital technologies to improve efficiencies, connect applications and streamline processes within supply chain operations. It usually incorporates intelligent technologies such as Digital Process Automation, Robotic Process Automation, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.

What are the benefits of supply chain automation?

There are multiple benefits that can be seen when supply chain automation software is introduced to operations. Here are the four primary benefits:

  1. Automate menial, manual tasks

A connected supply chain supported by automation technologies provides the opportunity to free employees from these menial, manual tasks.

Various documents are part of the supply chain management: delivery orders, receipts and bills generate numerous time-consuming tasks performed manually by employees who store and process the documentation.

These tasks are often carried out on pen and paper by employees in the warehouse, taking up valuable time and often leading to human error when recording and submitting information. The benefits of automation, both in and out of the warehouse include increased efficiency – manifested by increased fill rates and decreased cycle times, as well as increased warehouse throughput time, reduced labour and operational costs, elimination of human error and improved inventory management.

article hero image supply chain truck - image supplied by BizagiB

The benefits of automation were realised by Bizagi customer adidas. The largest sportswear manufacturer in Europe needed to transform its supply chain across 400 factories. Using Bizagi and an agile methodology allowed for less development, more efficiency and cost reduction.

They created standardised, reusable processes to deliver automation across departments. These automated processes eliminated manual tasks and reduced operational costs, such as eliminating a million emails per year through system integration. They also halved factory onboarding time and sped up the two-month sports asset contract approval cycle to just one week.

  1. Transparency and visibility of operations

Traditional supply chains often face unpredictable lead times and lack the transparency to know how inventory is progressing. Digital technology means that now even the everyday consumer is used to being able to see where their online delivery is in its journey from the warehouse to their front door. So why shouldn’t businesses expect the same visibility earlier on in the supply chain.

The reason for lack of transparency in the past couple of decades has been due to poor connectivity. As more systems and applications were introduced to increase efficiency, they created silos and left gaps between systems, which meant that information could not be passed between them and it was hard to follow the status of a process end-to-end.

A low-code automation platform can connect all systems and create a centralized location for your employees to access information, providing complete process visibility and orchestration.  This provides real-time data to employees, not only giving them up-to-date status updates, but also allows them to act with certainty when executing tasks that rely on important information.

CROP digital supply chains Transforming Maritime Supply Chains - Stock Image

Transparency not only benefits employees, but also customers as they can easily get an overview of how their order is progressing through the supply chain. Traceability is now essential for customer satisfaction and a low-code automation platform can provide appropriate visibility.

  1. Agility to respond to the unexpected

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s to expect the unexpected. For some organisations, the COVID pandemic meant scaling operations back and operating on a bare bones basis. For others, it meant ramping up production and shipping capabilities to meet increased demand.

Using a low-code automation platform provided the benefit of adaptability to respond to unforeseen circumstances, which is built-in when you connect information and data across your organization.

  1. Ensure regulations are always met

Diminishing risk and meeting compliance standards is particularly hard in a post-COVID world. Even more so for manufacturers and suppliers with global sites observing different regulations, ranging from health and safety to best business practice. Auditing is then required to prove these standards have been met.

Establishing business processes that are then executed, either in part or fully, by automation technology can help improve both risk management and the overall supply chain management. All stakeholders can ensure best practices are followed while integrating compliance for effective and risk-averse operations.

Documenting and automating workflows is the ideal way to ensure specific requirements are met, and that operations can be agile enough to evolve. Additionally, the real-time visibility brought to the supply chain by a low-code automation platform can help organisations to mitigate risk and ensure compliance by identifying issues as they arise and preventing them from escalating further.

Take action

Connectivity and automation bring the efficiency and agility that so many supply chain operators crave. If you would like to find out more about how a low-code platform can help transform your supply chain, download the free Bizagi ebook, The Essential Guide to Automation in Manufacturing.

In addition to insight on how to optimize your supply chain, you will also learn:

  • How to build a competitive advantage through three essential strategies
  • What the dawn of Industry 5.0 means for manufacturers
  • Tips for a successful automation program and how to repeat success

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