Data Integration is an Important Part of Supply Chain Analytics

Data Integration is an Important Part of Supply Chain Analytics

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In mid-May, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York announced that it was going to start including Supply Availability Indexes (SAIs) as part of its monthly regional business surveys. The SAIs are meant to help measure how widespread supply disruptions are, provide an understanding of whether availability is improving, and track inflationary pressures and the impact on local firms.

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Catching Up On FLOW and Data in the Supply Chain

Catching Up On FLOW and Data in the Supply Chain

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Two years ago, the Biden administration introduced a new digital platform for supply chain monitoring, Freight Logistics Optimization Works (FLOW). FLOW aims to provide more transparency into the supply chain by bringing together industry stakeholders to share real-time data. Those stakeholders have included retail companies, logistics companies, and port and marine terminal operators.

Now the program has expanded to include data from inland freight ports, including rail terminal and warehouse end-destination data. FLOW originated with the idea of preventing the kinds of supply chain issues that were exposed during the pandemic, but it has become more than that. “Supply chains in some form…explain more than 80 percent of the disinflation [decreased inflation] the U.S. has experienced since 2022,” according to a recent White House economic analysis.

Here are a few examples of how supply chain data is making a difference for businesses, whether or not they are a part of FLOW.

How PetSmart is benefiting from FLOW

Retailers work from in-store dates, the date a product must be available in the store. Those dates rely on the smooth function of the supply chain, from the time a product is picked up overseas, brought into a port, and distributed to stores. There are any number of reasons why that might not happen on time, from weather to work stoppages to international unrest or a global pandemic, to name a few.

 

 

When there is some kind of disruption, companies are forced to make an expensive decision, such as paying for air freight to make sure the products arrive at their destination on time. FLOW can provide the data those companies need to avoid having to spend more money than they budgeted.

PetSmart is one such example. The company can use FLOW data like bookings, marine terminal slots, chassis availability, and gate moves to understand what their next move should be. If they know there will be a delay of some sort, they can arrange for another product to be on store shelves until the scheduled shipment arrives. Instead of guessing at when that will be, they can draw a firmer conclusion. In doing so, they not only avoid having to make a reactionary decision that might cost more money, but they can also make a different move that allows business to continue without missing a beat.

Other companies are using their own data to help improve supply chain efficiency:

  • Advance Auto Parts identified elevated supply chain costs as part of the reason it saw a decline in gross profits. The company took a look at its network and was able to identify areas where it could improve its cost structure and inventory availability. In the past, Advance Auto Parts used 38 distribution centers to provide all possible products. It is in the process of making conversions that will allow it to order products into fewer distribution centers, increasing inventory productivity.
  • Target is one of the companies that uses FLOW data, but it is also relying on its own data to help the company’s bottom line. Target’s CFO and COO says the company’s efficiency efforts saved the company more than $500 million in 2023, with its inventory management playing a major role in those efforts. Target management set itself up to be more flexible by using data, reacting quickly to changing trends in areas such as apparel, where it didn’t make planned inventory purchases and instead went after trending merchandise. The company continues to invest in inventory planning, looking to use AI and machine learning to improve its speed, consistency, and efficiency.

 

 

These types of analytics are not exclusive to these companies that are finding success. Any company looking to make gains can learn from what they have been able to do. One major component is communication. FLOW data comes from a collaborative effort from organizations throughout the supply chain. Any organization that has traced its supply chain from beginning to end can reach out to stakeholders each step of the way to get the data it needs to help make important decisions where shipping is involved. If an organization is worried about where it can save money within its own processes, it can communicate internally to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as desired outcomes and opportunities for efficiencies.

In addition to communication, the other important piece is the right analytics tool. Knowing which information your organization needs is half the battle. Having the right tool to put it to work, producing reports that can help decision-makers with their work, is the final step to seeing improved results. Whether that data comes from a large government program like FLOW or the hard work of people in your organization, it can end up producing the same actionable insights.

Using Supply Chain Data to Prevent A Disaster

Using Supply Chain Data to Prevent A Disaster

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Supply chain data can mean many different things to different organizations. For some it can be used to make sure goods are being delivered in the most efficient way — whether that’s getting raw materials to a factory or from production to the consumer. For others it could be used to track an item down to its origins to make sure sustainability goals are being met.

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Optimizing the Beverage Alcohol Supply Chain through Analytics

Optimizing the Beverage Alcohol Supply Chain through Analytics

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There are many aspects to consider when thinking about data analytics in the beverage alcohol industry. An organization can focus solely on sales, whether that is from the product point of view or to check on how its employees are doing. Data can be used to gauge the effectiveness of incentives programs, or to see how products perform in different regions, and whether changes need to be made. The data can be used to provide answers to any number of questions, but in order to track product performance, the product needs to be delivered in the first place.

Beverage alcohol has its own unique challenges within the supply chain industry. From the raw materials to packaging to a sale at your local store, there are many factors to consider when it comes to getting alcohol where it needs to be. Here’s how analytics can help.

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Using AI for Supply Chain Success

Using AI for Supply Chain Success

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For a long time, advanced uses of artificial intelligence (AI) in industries like the supply chain were largely aspirational. AI could perform certain tasks that might help ease administrative workloads or help address customer concerns through chatbots, but organizations dreamed of the day it could help make a significant impact on decisions and improve business outcomes.

In many ways, the technology has finally caught up to the aspirations. We’re beginning to get a clearer picture of how AI can be used to work with data in the supply chain, and there are specific examples of how organizations use AI to make a difference.

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How An International Data Pact Could Improve the Supply Chain

How An International Data Pact Could Improve the Supply Chain

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When it comes to disruptions in the supply chain, there are the kinds an organization can prepare for and the kinds that are harder to anticipate. The disruptions brought about by the pandemic fell into the unanticipated category, and even though the problems brought on by some natural disasters can be expected, a bigger-than-expected weather event can be hard to work around.

Organizations can expect certain disruptions, though, for which customers will hold them accountable. Product shortages, for example, or shipping delays are frustrations that an organization might not have complete control over, but are expected to be able to handle. And the way they can handle them is through data.

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A Healthy Healthcare Supply Chain Could Save Lives

A Healthy Healthcare Supply Chain Could Save Lives

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One of the most complex industries when it comes to supply chain management is healthcare. Some of those complexities were brought to the public’s attention as a result of the pandemic. It was widely known that some healthcare organizations ran out of personal protective equipment (PPE), and some hospitals reacted by either overpaying for supplies, not getting supplies that met the usual standards of quality, or both overpaying and getting less quality.

There are a number of aspects to consider when looking at the supply chain from a healthcare point of view, and data is used in all of it. It is especially important now, as healthcare organizations are looking to cut costs where they can. They are examining their supply chains for opportunities, and they’re using data to help.

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The Supply Chain Relies on AI For Data-Driven Decision-Making

The Supply Chain Relies on AI For Data-Driven Decision-Making

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) has played a role in the supply chain for years. Like any technology, though, it continues to grow, and that can lead to more opportunities. As the technology improves, and awareness about what exactly AI can do increases, people are looking at AI and its role within all industries with a new set of eyes.

It comes at an important time in particular for the supply chain industry, as after a period of disruption after disruption, organizations are putting more emphasis on quickly analyzing data and making better decisions. Here’s a look at the ways AI is already established in supply chain analytics, and how it might be used moving forward.

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New Technology Assists Supply Chain Transparency

New Technology Assists Supply Chain Transparency

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Organizations rely on transparency in their supply chains for any number of reasons. Following the pandemic, companies that did not have their supply chain entirely mapped out came to see the practice’s importance. Instead of finding out about supply chain weaknesses when something stopped working, they could identify and address potential problems ahead of a disruption.

Organizations have taken new approaches recently to help track the origins of their products, and they’ve begun using technology that is new to the industry in order to do so. Here’s why supply chain transparency is important, and how technology is helping organizations be more aware of their goods at every step of their production process.

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How To Use Analytics to Optimize Your Cannabis Supply Chain

How To Use Analytics to Optimize Your Cannabis Supply Chain

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The cannabis industry is rapidly expanding, with more and more states legalizing cannabis for both medicinal and recreational use. As new dispensaries and cultivation facilities pop up around the country, the cannabis distribution supply chain grows increasingly complex. Product shelf life, regulations, and the standard obstacles expected from any new industry have posed major obstacles to getting cannabis on store shelves. As a result, efficient supply chain management is growing increasingly important within the industry.

Data analytics platforms, such as Dimensional Insight’s CannaBI Analytics, can provide the supply chain insights that your business needs to answer the important questions such as:

  • How do we align supply with demand?
  • How do we meet compliance?
  • How do we manage multiple channels?
  • And, most importantly, how do we increase sales?

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