Supply chains, especially in manufacturing, are incredibly complex. To say “a lot of moving pieces and parts” is a massive understatement. But keeping them connected allows you to know what’s really happening within your network versus just a fraction of that network.
This is a concept we call network visibility — and it can enhance manufacturers’ opportunity to make strategic decisions, from inbound to outbound and everything in between, that impact the bottom line. Network visibility allows trading partners to share real-time supply chain data with each other and know, with accuracy, when goods will arrive.
A lot of manufacturers talk about the need or desire to have visibility into the “golden screw” – the one piece or widget within a finished product needed to have a complete shipment. Knowing where goods are in real-time allows you to better plan production, manage your labor at the dock door or help carriers get in and out quicker.
And there are other benefits, too. Todd Simms, FourKites’ VP of Manufacturing Industry Strategy, and Director of Network Collaboration Ryan Closser recently shared how network visibility can improve operations:
Because with great transparency, you can be proactive in your customer communications. One example: If you’re able to see a potential delay in advance because of a choke point in your supply chain, you can communicate that proactively to your customer. Now your customer has that same opportunity to pivot and be agile, so you have an opportunity to create a different level of customer loyalty.
As Todd shares, if lead times and delivery windows are wide and varied, then what’s the point of giving them in the first place? Network visibility can narrow the gap and increase accuracy, to the delight of customers.
With deep visibility and data, you can also answer critical questions about your supplier base. How many do I have today? How many make the most sense? Are they collaborative? Are they willing to share information and data? Being a “preferred supplier” is such a big deal for a lot of organizations because that helps them grow and be more agile.
The ability to intervene early when something goes wrong or when there’s a delay is critical — it can also turn a potentially negative experience for everyone involved into a positive one.
Ultimately, network visibility is dependent on collaboration. In a time of crisis, partners have incentive to come together and tackle whatever challenges they face. However, the companies that will win are the ones who insist on using data to collaborate even during “normal” times.
And every piece of a supply chain has exceptional data. Can you harness it today? And can you make it available to everyone so they can make really strategic and actionable decisions that have a material impact to the bottom line?
With real-time network visibility, you can.
Do you wish you had transparency across your entire supply chain, beyond just the freight you manage directly? Let’s talk.