The Life and Times of Supply Chain Sam

The real-life benefits of a connected supply chain

Hi! My name is Sam and I’m the Global Supply Chain Officer for a large, international manufacturer of chemicals used in the automotive industry. As we know, COVID-19 has shut numerous automotive plants due to slowdowns in car manufacturing since no one is buying new automobiles. So, the C-Suite folks at my business are quite edgy, always wanting me to justify my costs and performance.

So, this morning started out normal with a stop at the local coffee shop for a muffin and java. When I arrived at my desk, I logged into my supply chain control tower to see how the supply chain activities were progressing. All was great, for the first hour. Then I was notified that our biggest and best customer was expecting his order to arrive on Wednesday, but it is scheduled to ship in our logistics system on Friday. We will need to move their order shipment up two days, from Friday to Wednesday.

Move. Up. Two Days? What am I to do? How?

How can I use a connected network and visibility solutions together to solve this problem?

I try to think of different scenarios. We could expedite their order and ship via air freight, but the order is quite large, so it will cost thousands of dollars to ship. My customer probably won’t want to pay the fee because it is outside his negotiated budget.

Or, we could reach out to our best carriers to see if they could provide a truck to go pick up the order at my manufacturing plant and send it to the customer. I don’t really know what these truckers have available, so I’ll have to call each one – and there are hundreds to contact.

However, getting the transportation department involved means that I already have the product made. That is not true. I have to check with production to see if we can speed up a manufacturing line. Then I need to make sure we have the raw materials in-house so we can even create the mix.

Luckily, I have visibility into the entire supply chain through a digital network that connects with each operation within my business, integrates all the systems in the company, and reaches out to connect with my trading partners and customers.

The first thing I do is reach out to Perry in Procurement.

She has visibility into our inventory levels and has a rigorous supplier management program where she vents suppliers for quality and reliability. Using our connected digitized supply chain network, Perry can send an email to one of her small suppliers that can expedite the shipment of the materials. With Elemica’s QuickLink Email, the supplier receives the expedited request and then books a shipment with a small logistics provider that can send the materials in time for us to manufacture the product.

Larry in Logistics then will receive the notification that an inbound shipment is on its way. He creates a dock schedule and appointment to receive the shipment so that the truck will be unloaded as soon as it arrives. Because of our connected network, Larry knows that the received materials must go to the manufacturing plant as soon as possible.

The materials arrive at the manufacturing plant and our plant manager oversees that the product our customer needs is made, tested for quality, and ready to be picked up. The connected network relays to our manufacturing line who the product is for and informs Sara in Customer Service.

Since it is already Tuesday afternoon, Sara knows that our customer needs the product tomorrow morning. She works closely with Logistics and the customer to make sure the product arrives on time. Because she has visibility into transport movements through the connected network, she is able to track the product and make sure it arrives on Wednesday morning.

Sara receives notification that the product has arrived and informs myself, Larry, and the customer that all is well. This has just been another day in my life as head of Supply Chain but I couldn’t have done any of this without the Elemica Digital Supply Network connecting our company, suppliers, customer, and logistics providers together. Plus, with Elemica QuickLink Email, I didn’t have to involve the IT and communication with the supplier and the logistics service provider. The process was completely automated and streamlined for everyone to review their orders and instructions in their email programs. It was as smooth as silk – well almost.