Talk to anyone involved in planning, forecasting or optimizing supply chain networks and they'll tell you that multi-tier visibility is the hardest problem to solve. The world already has the mathematics and algorithms necessary to solve complex, multi-tier optimization problems but the real problem has always been data.
What is the Multi-Tier Problem?
Manufacturers must navigate a complex world of getting the right parts to the right place at the right time in order to efficiently deliver the end product and must do so by working with hundreds or even thousands of suppliers who in turn manage their own supply chains. All this needs to be done with great coordination and without exceedingly high use of working capital. With supply chains this complex, it is natural that delays, risks and issues creep in. Having close collaboration, visibility and communication is key to successfully delivering on this but is extremely difficult to do in real life.
The SME challenge
The greatest inhibitor to multi-tier visibility in today's supply chains is the lack of technical capabilities of smaller and medium-sized companies that make up the majority of the manufacturing supply chain. In the US, the National Association of Manufacturers has put out data that supports this: over 98% of the US manufacturing supply chain are small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
It doesn't matter how much money larger organizations throw at digitization, they will always process paper and suffer from supply chain 'blind spots' if no one solves the SME problem.
The result is that most larger organizations' warehousing functions act as a proxy to solve the multi-tier challenge by kitting parts and delivering them to point-of-use. The result is that the risk for under/over stock still rests with the end item manufacturer instead of a collaborative solution if there was greater visibility.
Since the majority of SMEs do not have the ability to generate an electronic Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN), it follows that the industry needs a low-cost, low-friction solution.
But not only does it have to be low-cost, it needs to come with incentives.
We target the shipping and receiving process because they essential for supply chain and are some of the most simple, yet labor-intensive transactions that companies do. Digitalizing these processes yields critical information that allows visibility up and down the supply chain.
We use low-cost cloud technology to store delivery data and convert it to a SPEC2000 compliant ASN that most larger players can consume. Lower cost allows more players to participate and lowers the barrier to entry for smaller players.
We offer complete paperless shipping which speeds up operations making dramatic positive impacts for both supplier and customer.
Customers can see parts before they ship and can inspect documentation which gives them extra lead time to resolve paperwork issues before the parts show up at the dock. This increases first pass quality and reduces working capital tied up in parts sitting in quarantine awaiting resolution.
Our APIs intercept the shipping transaction and convert it into an ASN. The customer is notified and the ASN is consumed by their ERP system and automatically pre-populates the inventory receiving transactions - saving 10X labor in the process.
Suppliers can either attach scanned documents or create digital documents directly from the ASN - like Certificates of Conformity for manufactured parts. These are created once and can be shared without duplication up and down the supply chain - saving time, money and paper.