How supply chain resilience is used in businesses
The resilience of supply chains has been tested in recent years by some catastrophic events and by political disruption to trade flows. Supply chain managers have developed some pragmatic approaches to risk management and some useful tools, including the ability to visualise supply chain dynamics.
These tools visualise the flow of material, components, and products from source to destination via nodes showing locations, facilities, and distribution points. The visualisations include data such as inventory levels of components and spare parts at supply chain storage locations and depots.
How visualisation can play a crucial part in supply chain resilience
The visualisations can be filtered by the attributes of the flow, such as, product categories, products, brands, component subsets, sub-assemblies, and SKUs. The visualisations allow for the flow of specific locations and facilities to be seen and understood by a time frame. The visualisations are automatically refreshed from digital sources in the supply chain locations and so are always up to date. The visual tools are used by supply chain managers to ensure that the supply chain is resilient to a range of commonplace, but lower impact disruptions. For example, by increasing inventory levels to reflect the risk level. For rarer, but higher-impact events the visualisations will inform the rapid recovery actions that need to be taken. Issues such as climate change seem to be increasing the rate at which events occur that can have a high impact on supply chains. Therefore tools that support the ability to recover from disruption and losses quickly have a high utility.
The analytics tools used include Adobe Analytics, Microsoft Power BI, Tableau and Qlik. The visualisations are not out of the box, but purpose-built to provide the filtering and drilling functionality that is required to understand potentially complex patterns of product and component flows. The calculations are also purpose-built to provide the appropriate calculations of inventory cover, supply chain velocity and working capital requirements. All of which reflect the potential impact of disruptions on cash flows and cash requirements.
The effectiveness of visualisation tools relies on the quality of the data engineering and data modelling on which the visualisations are based,
as well as the power of the filtering and the functionality that permits drill through of supply chain complexity. Visualisation tools provide a means of engaging people and processes in the cost-effective improvement of supply chain resilience.