Cloud Solutions Be the Silver Lining for Supply Chain Woes
Nancy Sarpolis - May 17, 2022
The global supply chain can’t seem to get out from under the dark cloud of disruptions, as lingering effects from the pandemic collide with geopolitical events, natural disasters and a tight labor market. Shortages of people, parts, raw materials, oil and even food are a storm on the horizon that is expected to continue well into 2023.
According to Wired magazine, this “…new reality is forcing companies to adopt new strategies to keep goods moving. Backlogs and breakdowns are the new normal, which makes getting ahead of disruptions as early as possible more important than ever.” Wired adds that “a growing number of companies are now using tools that provide greater visibility into the flow of goods, and which can sometimes predict potential choke points.”
Advanced planning and scheduling (APS) solutions in the cloud could be the silver lining supply chains need right now.
Access any time, from anywhere
The ability to access data remotely is one of the basic facts of the cloud. Intelligent APS solutions allow supply chain managers to view real-time production and other data at any time, from any location, to make smarter, more informed decisions. APS solutions connect data from disparate sources and centralize it in one place. For example, cloud solutions link the availability of personnel, material and tools, allowing planners to visualize the entire operation with one dashboard. This is especially important for manufacturers with multiple locations across different geographies or those with complex, decentralized organizations.
Identify potential disruptions – before they happen
Increasing visibility into the entire supply chain is the most effective step a company can take to shield itself from unexpected events. A business can only eliminate threats it can see, so monitoring everything coming and going in the supply chain is an essential step in risk reduction. Once a planner has visibility into potential disruptions, information can be turned into completed sequences and schedules just as quickly. APS solutions that offer AI-powered workflows provide for rapid and response planning based on specified scenarios. And, if disruptions in the supply chain occur, planners can re-sequence and provide the new plan to all relevant teams in the production environment.
Greater efficiency in production
APS solutions that offer enhanced planning, scheduling, and sequencing capabilities in the cloud can improved decision-making capabilities and ensure that production planning is accurate and efficient. Manufacturers can realize cost savings through the optimization of process flows and minimization of set-up efforts and idle time. In addition, APS solutions can maximize efficiency by minimizing waste, which means manufacturers consume fewer resources and produce fewer byproducts like GHG emissions for greater sustainability.
Adaptability as needs change
As supply chain managers have learned over the past few years, the only constant is change. Choosing an APS solution that is flexible enough to evolve is critical. Cloud applications are particularly adaptable because they are maintained by the solution provider. As new features and applications are introduced, software can be automatically upgraded without disrupting current operations. Look for suites that support modular deployments and implementations. This is often found in cloud-based APS solutions, which let supply chain planners manage computing capacity in a dynamic way, or employ a central solution that interworks easily with MES and ERP systems. The ability to integrate with Microsoft Azure, AWS or popular suppliers of cloud services can also result in fast, simple, and scalable implementation across the organization.
APS solutions in the cloud offer the connectivity, visibility and flexibility needed to improve productivity and stay ahead of fluctuating market trends and demands. And that means brighter skies ahead for today’s supply chain managers.
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