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Building resilient and flexible supply chains with automation

How a hybrid workforce can help you meet and exceed customer expectations

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Today, we find ourselves in a period of disruption that's shaping a new normal. As the world around us evolves, supply chains must adapt accordingly.

Some businesses are seeing huge lifts in demand; consider cleaning products, home improvement tools, and staple foods. Others remain stuck with stock they can't move; think travel products and apparel. Businesses providing aftercare and maintenance services are finding it especially difficult to support customers. Worse still, capacity and transportation restrictions are affecting some of the hardest-hit industries.

The challenges don't end there. Supply chains are facing end-to-end disruption:

  • Changes in consumer behavior and government regulations are dramatically – and frequently – altering demand, making existing forecasts obsolete
  • Increased travel restrictions, inspections, and cleaning measures are delaying shipments
  • Demand surges, combined with a limited supply of materials, are restricting supply chains
  • Where product demand has spiked, a sharp increase in transactional tasks has hampered employee productivity
  • Limited supply chain visibility is making it difficult for businesses to track the critical parts required to support production
  • Limited visibility is also impacting service part inventory management, which poses a risk to field equipment uptime

Though supply chain optimization was once relatively low on the list of enterprise priorities, it is now the link between operations and satisfying your customers, suppliers, dealers, and employees.

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Unfortunately, years of driving down costs has created a lack of resilience in supply chains. These issues have always been present, but now they're impossible to ignore. The businesses that create long-term solutions and can flex quickly to whatever the new normal looks like for their industry will be best placed to serve customers effectively and maintain strong relationships with suppliers.

The power of supply chain automation

Thankfully, there are ways to create a more connected and responsive supply chain – even during this challenging time. Here are some strategies that leading enterprises are adopting to prepare for the future:

Strategies leading enterprises are adopting to prepare for the future

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By using automation to streamline operations – and analytics to connect disparate data – smart investments can make supply chains more resilient. Software robots, or bots, can automate manual tasks to reduce errors, duplication, and rework to boost employee productivity. As a result, businesses can quickly respond to peaks and troughs in demand in both the short and long term.

Working with supply chain experts can help businesses identify where the prime opportunities for automation lie, and how the technology ties to business objectives and the ability to deliver a positive user experience.

Supply chain automation backed by analytics

As automation is such a powerful technology, you want to ensure that you're putting it to good use. When backed by a robust analytical capability that connects disparate data across the supply chain, its benefits are even greater. In fact, you can automate 20–40% of supply chain tasks. Working in tandem with analytics, you can improve demand forecasts, uncover end-to-end insights, and make more informed investment decisions.

The following are some other areas where automation bots can drive immediate value:

Areas where automation bots can drive immediate value

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In supply chain planning, automation, and analytics can work together to model scenarios by combining market indicators and information from customers, suppliers, dealers, and employees. This approach allows businesses to identify trends, enable more accurate forecasts, and support more informed decision-making.

Supply chain automation through an experience lens

A hybrid workforce needs humans and machines to work in harmony. If you examine your automation strategy through an experience lens, you can redesign supply chains as intuitive, user-centric, end-to-end processes. As a result, everyone benefits from:

  • Supplier experience: Automation solutions enhance supplier visibility so suppliers can see what's happening, as well as where, when, and why to decide if they need to act. The more transparent the view, the more responsive your supply chain will become
  • Employee experience: Competing priorities have stretched supply chain planners thin. Empowered by automation, they feel more in control, which improves job satisfaction and their ability to focus on customers
  • Dealer experience: Dealer engagement solutions enhance original equipment manufacturer visibility into market consumption, the health of their equipment, and which parts are in high demand
  • Customer experience: Of course, when employees, dealers, and suppliers are properly equipped, they can deliver a better service to customers to drive loyalty and equipment uptime

Supply chain automation in action

Enterprises are already seeing the benefits of automation in their supply chain. One global consumer packaged goods (CPG) company saw a surge in demand because of COVID-19, especially for its cleaning products. This created manufacturing pressures in terms of product allocation. In its determination to fulfill and not lose orders, it had 27 people doing what one person used to do.

To help, Genpact delivered a customizable supply chain optimization solution. It cost little to implement, and our network of technology partners backed it for rapid deployment at scale. After just a few weeks, the process was faster and reduced errors, handling the 30% increase in demand effectively and improving service-level satisfaction scores by 15%.

One global transportation and logistics provider can serve as another example of supply chain automation in action. As parts were arriving slowly and sporadically because of COVID-19, its plant operations team was spending a long time identifying and sourcing critical parts to fulfill as many orders as possible.

A supply chain critical parts solution was the answer. A complete end-to-end assessment and delivery of the solution took only four weeks. Now, the solution is monitoring 7,000 critical parts and 7 million data transactions every day, resulting in a 55% overall productivity boost.

Taking the first step

There's never been a more pressing need to revitalize your supply chain strategy with automation. Backed by analytics and experience principles, the changes you make will now not only equip you to overcome short-term challenges and prepare your business to become more resilient in the long term too.

The good news is that uncertainty also creates opportunity. Some play it safe and think only of today's challenges. Instead, strengthen your supply chain and support your employees to build better relationships with customers, dealers, and suppliers for future business success.

Learn more about how Genpact can help with supply chain management.

Adapt and rise

Overcome uncertainty to unlock supply chain resilience

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