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Supply Chain Systems – Extending it to Customers and Suppliers

Extended Supply Chain Systems – the need of the hour

Supply Chain Systems today have become powerful with the advent and increase in use of the internet. Back in the 80’s the systems data usage and analytics was restricted and disparate in nature. Systems were in silos and not connected to each other. For example the manufacturer, supplier, and the retailer/end customer data was restricted to its network.

Today the data available for analysis at the manufacturer end can benefit the supplier or the customer or vice versa. Such data can be shared using standard communication formats using Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), Web Services, Partner Portals and the like.

Extended supply chains have become critical success factors in various industry sectors. Let us examine a few sectors to get an idea of how business scenarios and challenges can be addressed by an all-encompassing supply chain setup.

Retail Industry

Large retailers today, share sales data, by location, with their suppliers resulting in competition amongst the suppliers to offer better prices, quality and timely delivery of goods to the retailer, which ultimately benefits the end customer.

Large Distribution centres extend their system to their stockists for them to get a visibility of inventory availability and place orders real time. Stock allocation happens accurately resulting in timely supply of goods to the stockists. The stockists also have visibility of quantity and expected receipts. Extending the stock allocation functionality to the stockist helps the distributor define his saleable and non-saleable inventory clearly.

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Supply Chain Management – The weakest link in India’s ambitious National Food Security Bill

The recent National Food Security Bill 2013 which was passed by way of an Ordinance in the parliament is no small feat undertaken by the Government of India. This bill promises subsidized food grains to nearly 68% of India’s 1.2 Billion population at a cost of nearly USD 4 Billion!

The bill aims to provide quality food grains and nutritional security, to under privileged children, women and poorer sections of the society, at affordable prices. Indeed a very noble and ambitious plan.

While the bill may face regulatory challenges, the real challenges that will affect the effectiveness of the initiative lie elsewhere.  A lot of infrastructure, storage and distribution issues will have to be addressed on a war footing by the government. Some of the specific logistics problems the government will have to deal with are:

  • Procurement of food grains
  • Fair price purchase from farmers
  • Storage
  • Quality Assurance
  • Distribution Network
  • Pilferage and Leakages
  • Accurate forecasting of Demand and Supply
  • Managing the Supply Chain

The Government will also have to deal with another set of problems such as Minimum Support Price (MSP) of food grains, poverty categorization of citizens, alterations to be brought in the existing Public Distribution System (PDS), irregularities, corruption, grievances redress, and vigilance committees. However, in this article we shall specifically look into logistic issues highlighted above and throw some light on what the government should do to address these on priority. (more…)

Automatic Identification and Its Role in Warehouse Management

What is Auto-ID or automatic identification?

Auto-ID or automatic identification refers to the identification process of the appropriate stock keeping units (SKU) during a supply chain process, using technologies such as RFID, barcodes etc. Automatic identification technologies improve the accuracy of the SKU identification process up to 99.99%. This naturally reduces errors while performing certain supply chain operations, thus reducing rework and improving time efficiency. These technologies also help businesses enforce certain rules such as FIFO, LIFO or a combination of rules that are absolutely necessary for smooth running of operations. Some of the areas where Auto-ID finds its application are receiving, binning, picking and packing.

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Maintaining the Competitive Edge with IT

ERP, Barcoding, Transport Management Systems (TMS), Track and Trace solutions have been the growth enablers and key differentiators over the past decade. With these technologies now being part of the basic package for even new players, how can businesses maintain their competitive edge? How can the industry maintain the same growth rates it clocked in the past years with pressure on performance?

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