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Five Ways Data Can Help You Take Control of Your Supply Chain

Written by Patrick Murray
Published on
Do you constantly grapple with unpredictable supply chain challenges? Do you find it impossible to accurately calculate cost or predict the lead time of your products?

Understanding your supply chain is vital to any successful manufacturing business, and the data that flows through it can empower people throughout your organisation to make better, faster, and more informed decisions.

Imagine coordinating a complex network of activities, from sourcing raw materials to delivering your final product with confidence, enabled by data-driven supply chain management. In this insight, we'll show you five ways data can transform your supply chain operations and supercharge your efficiency. It's time to take control of your supply chain.

Key Takeaways

  • Power BI can empower users to make better decisions by visualising key trends, metrics, and insights on interactive dashboards,
  • AI and machine learning can forecast demand based on trends and patterns that may be difficult for humans to detect
  • Internet of Things (IoT) technology can automate the collection and processing of data
  • Ingesting external data sets enriches your own data to create a more complete view of your supply chain
  • Graph databases enable you to analyse complex relationships between products and suppliers

Visualise Your Inventory with Power BI

Say goodbye to the guesswork and hello to real-time inventory insights.

Power BI is Microsoft’s Business Intelligence (BI) platform and can be the window into your inventory. With custom dashboards driven by real-time data, you'll have a bird's eye view of everything from stock levels to product movement and sales. This powerful BI tool is designed to help your users keep the data they need at their fingertips.

It's not just about monitoring your inventory day-to-day. Power BI empowers you to make informed strategic decisions by visualising long term trends in your business. This will help you identify opportunities to exploit or threats to mitigate, as well as validate the effectiveness of your continuous improvement projects over time.

Power BI can integrate with data from existing systems like your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) platform, giving you a complete picture of your inventory across multiple locations and the entire supply chain. If you’ve got the data - you can put it in the right people’s hands.

With Power BI, it’s vital to always understand the information that your staff really needs and avoid “data for the sake of data”. Design your first dashboards around the questions commonly asked through your organisation: which products are running low on stock? Which suppliers are delivering late? How much did it cost to make this product? By starting at the question, your staff will have quick and easy access to the actionable insight they need to make informed decisions.

Use AI to Forecast Demand

Unleash the power of AI to supercharge your demand forecasting.

We often hear that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to disrupt industries and revolutionise how we live our lives, but how do we take action with it now? With the ability to analyse vast amounts of data and make predictions based on historical trends, market conditions, and more, AI can be your tool to maximise the impact of your decisions.

AI can uncover patterns and trends that would have gone unnoticed by the human eye. With the help of AI, your sales data, customer demographics, and economic indicators will all work together to help predict the future demand for your products, or any common supply issues from your suppliers.

As AI processes more data, it can continually fine-tune its predictions and provide you with increasingly accurate demand forecasts as you acquire more data. This leads to optimised production schedules and eliminates the risk of overstocking or stock shortages. Start small with AI, and choose a single high impact dataset to analyse or process to automate.

Use IoT to Automate Data Collection

Transform your inventory and supply chain operations with IoT.

Imagine being able to track your products and shipments in real-time, knowing their location, conditions, and movements at all times. The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term used to describe the interconnected network of physical devices, vehicles, and other items embedded with electronics, software, and sensors which enables these objects to collect and exchange data.

By using sensors and technology such as Radio-Frequency Identification (RFID) tags, you can collect a wealth of data that can help you make informed decisions and streamline your operations. IoT devices can track your products from the moment they leave the factory to when they reach the customer. And with RFID tags, you can keep a watchful eye on your inventory levels, updating them automatically and reducing the risk of stock shortages or overstocking.

IoT gives you a new level of control over your supply chain and inventory. You can identify bottlenecks, optimise shipping routes, and ensure that your products are stored and transported under the best possible conditions. On top of that, because it is automated, you'll save time and resources that would otherwise be spent manually tracking and recording the required data.

Leverage Third Party Datasets to Enrich your Data

Are you ready to supercharge your supply chain knowledge?

Integrating third-party datasets into your manufacturing and supply chain operations can provide unique and valuable insights into your processes. These datasets could include, market and customer data, logistics data from your key transport routes, or even weather data.

When combined with your own data, these datasets offer a wealth of information that can provide you with a comprehensive understanding of your supply chain operations, enabling you to make informed data based decisions.

Imagine a future where you'll know your suppliers inside and out, from their financial stability to their production capacity and delivery track record. No more worrying about potential risks in the supply chain. You'll have all the information you need to make informed decisions on which suppliers to work with. Even if that day is far away, third party datasets available right now can help you make better decisions.

Third-party datasets can also give you the inside scoop on market trends, such as consumer preferences, economic conditions, and competitor activity. Imagine being able to make decisions on product development, pricing, and marketing strategies with confidence, knowing you have the latest information at your fingertips. These datasets can also help you identify areas for improvement in your supply chain operations. A third-party dataset on shipping routes, for example, can highlight the most cost-effective and efficient options, saving you time and money in the long run.

Use Graph Databases to Identify Patterns

Are you tired of navigating a complex web of suppliers, products, and customers without a clear picture of how it all fits together?

Graph databases can change all that. With its visual representation of complex relationships and its ability to uncover bottlenecks and risks, this type of database can help manufacturers make informed decisions and improve their operations.

What are graph databases? They are a type of database designed to store and manage relationships between data points. Graph databases use a visual representation to show the relationships between entities, such as suppliers, products, and customers in a supply chain, making it easier to understand and manage complex data structures.

Imagine being able to quickly identify a supplier's production issues and the potential impact on your operations. With a graph database, you can spot these challenges before they become major problems. The database's ability to highlight areas for improvement and help optimise your supply chain can also lead to increased efficiency and a better bottom line.

By embracing the power of graph databases, you can gain a deeper understanding of your supply chain and make data-driven decisions that drive success.