The supply chain optimisation tools of today are all about delivering as fast and accurately as possible, without compromising your delivery standards. And with the wide array of tech that’s available today, most companies are able to cut their lead times significantly; while saving plenty of time and money. Right now, there’s a big focus on supply chains being agile and adaptable, without sacrificing their effectiveness.
It’s no longer about the big eating the small—today, the fast eat the slow.
Let’s take a look at the top three supply chain optimisation tools that’ll keep your operation fast and efficient in 2020.
1. Customised Route Optimisation Solve
Any fleet manager will tell you good route planning and scheduling solutions are brilliant for business.
When it’s done right, fine-tuning your routes will make a significant dent in your fuel costs, cut your emissions, and reduce the time that your vehicles take to reach their destinations. It’s a huge money and time saver…
… But only when it’s done right.
Standard, off-the-shelf route optimisation solutions tend to follow a set format; which is a glaring weakness, because no two businesses—and no two supply chains—are the same. You may have a niche, industry-specific set of vehicles; or a particularly high-stakes offloading process. Off-the-shelf solutions can’t take these specific needs into account.
They’re built for the shelf—not for your fleet.
And that’s why they don’t cut it. You end up having to spend more time and money reshaping your business processes to fit the software than you’d save with it; at which point, you’ve got more problems than you started with and your budget and fleet have suffered for nothing.
That’s where customised route optimisation solves come in.
Rather than making massive, sweeping changes to your entire system, you can target and fix the transport issues that specifically affect your business; all without ripping up your current infrastructure. All through smart algorithms that address your unique business constraints before running the day-to-day route scheduling.
Once you’ve input your requirements into the software, you’ll know how many vehicles you need to complete a task, which routes they’ll need to take, when they’ll arrive at their destinations—everything you need to get the job done on time and in full. All while reducing your ops costs and the risk of human error.
Take a fleet of street sweepers, for instance. On top of all your regular fleet factors—routes taken, number of vehicles, daily schedule, and the like—you’ve got the rain to contend with. Even for most fleets, the weather can affect arrival times.
But for a street sweeper, rain changes everything. First, their speed needs to be adjusted to account for wet roads. And with their function being cleaning, they get dirtier in rainy weather, which means they’ll need to dump their waste more frequently and make time for cleaning; which then affects their entire routing process.
By adding a custom solve to your optimisation solution that addresses external factors like the forecast, you can match your fleet’s routing to the weather and reach the optimal performance for that day, be it rain or shine.
Custom solves make dealing with your complexities a simple matter—because they’re built just for you.
2. Facility Modeling and Design
Warehouses are complex, high-stakes investments. They cost a lot to get up and running; they need to be closely managed to keep operations running smoothly; and when a mistake is made, it can snowball totally out of control, often affecting the entire supply chain.
And there’s plenty of room for mistakes. Facilities need tech and layout upgrades, operations need relocating, new sites need to be built—all intensive procedures with room for error. If a measurement is off, or a material doesn’t hold up, operators won’t know until the site is in use and it’s too late to correct. At least, not without costly renovations that take chunks out of your budgets and timelines.
Luckily, facility modeling and design allows you to root out errors before they happen.
3D warehouse modeling is exactly what it sounds like: software you can use to create a fully accurate, 3D mock-up of your site for you to explore and experiment with to your heart’s content.
Designing your warehouse in a virtual environment allows you to visualise and test every inch of the site, before development even begins. You can trial height restrictions of workers, vehicles, and machinery in key areas; test the site’s security measures; or simulate the day-to-day management of the site, just to name a few.
It also opens up more options down the line, like dynamic modelling that allows you to run flow simulations with fluids and gases; or dipping into virtual reality to explore your warehouse yourself before it’s built. Incredibly useful for operators who want to experiment with flow management options, test processes with fragile goods, or run through checks to ensure there are no mistakes in the build plan.
3. Multi-Echelon Inventory Optimisation
One of the biggest supply chain challenges out there is balancing your stock according to fluctuating demand. The goal of every supply chain operator is to match inventory with demand as closely as possible; so you can avoid having excessive amounts of capital sitting in unused stock that isn’t being bought, or missing opportunities to trade stock that would be getting snapped up otherwise.
Manually, this is incredibly difficult to get right. And no wonder—there are so many elements in the equation that need juggling, some of which may seem completely unpredictable. And everything gets even more complex when you’ve got a multi-echelon supply chain, with your stock travelling through various distribution centers; increasing your total lead time to end customers.
This leads to two scenarios: on one hand, you’ve got operators who overstock to compensate for spikes in demand, which leads to them sitting on unspendable capital. And on the other, you’ve got operators whose customer service suffers, because they’re caught empty-handed when demand increases.
But even with multiple- echelons, you can make the balancing act easy—and have it done for you—with the right inventory optimisation tech.
Multi-echelon inventory optimisation (despite being a real mouthful) is all about streamlining your inventory and stock flow across many points in your supply chain, as opposed to stock within one store or outlet.
It’s how you achieve an optimal level of inventory throughout your entire value chain; all through demand and supply planning software.
By following demand signals generated through intelligent algorithms and the latest B2B system integration, you’ll know how much of your stock you’ll sell; which in turn tells you how much you’ll need in your inventory to fill your orders. And once you’ve locked down your demand and forecasting, you can take control of your inbound and outbound supply; which boosts your customer service levels and saves your capital.
For example, let’s say you’re supplying the restaurant industry and, having overestimated demand for the week, you’ve ordered too much stock. Overstocking is a particularly common issue—food spoilage is a huge issue in the industry, both in terms of revenue lost and harm to the planet. Your problems are twofold: you can’t shift stock before it’s got to be binned (taking your capital with it), and in the meantime you’ve got no room to place new stock if you onboard any new customers. Everything stagnates.
With the right multi-echelon inventory optimisation tools, you can rely on automated demand signals directly from the point of consumption—and adjust your stock orders based on their sales flow in real time, instead of going by estimations. Cutting stock orders reduces your risks of spoilage; and also optimises your fleet’s usage, which in turn reduces fuel costs… and so on.
Soon, you’ll have hit the inventory sweet spot—with just enough to effectively supply your current customers, as well as plenty of free space for potential new revenue streams, and a healthy amount of capital savings to boot.
These supply chain optimisation tools are three of the biggest time and money savers you’ll find in 2020—but there’s plenty of smart solutions for your most complex problems.
If you’re an operator who’s facing any of these issues, or you want to find out how you can reduce costs and boost your outputs, let us know—we’ll work with you to find out exactly what your business needs, then set you up for success.Contact us