Elemica: driving digital transformation in supply chains

Elemica: driving digital transformation in supply chains

With the importance of remaining agile and lean fundamental to the success of all companies in the supply chain space, the...

With the importance of remaining agile and lean fundamental to the success of all companies in the supply chain space, the influence that new technology is having on firms is clear.

In a bid to help companies achieve a full digital transformation, Elemica connects systems to automate supply chain transactions and facilitate collaboration among its network of trading partners. As the leading cloud-based digital supply network for the global process industries, the firm operates with a mission statement of providing visibility into companies’ supply chains. Offering an end-to-end digital supply network that processes manufacturing enterprises and their trading partners to digitally transform supply chains, Elemica integrates processes and harvests visibility in the supply chain as it helps companies accomplish their digital transformation ambitions through a full suite of Elemica applications.

Rich Katz, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Elemica, has been working at Elemica for 16 years, having started as Senior VP Product Management before becoming Chief Technology Officer and ultimately moving onto his current role as President in 2018. Katz reflects on his firm’s digital transformation strategy and discusses the benefits that it provides to not only Elemica, but to its customers too.

How important is procurement & supply chain transformation to Elemica?

Digital transformation is fundamental to Elemica and our customers. We facilitate their digital transformation within the supply chain by automating business processes from end-to-end, helping businesses to gain efficiencies within their procurement, production, transportation, manufacturing, and other business operations. By removing paper-based business processes, our customers can balance inventory, working capital, and customer service levels while improving the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). Automating processes helps to reduce errors, improve compliance, lower admin time, reduce expedited freight costs, and much more.

With digital transformation of the supply chain vital, in what ways does Elemica incorporate its platform?

Our platform has been implemented by major process manufacturers, and we have thousands of suppliers and logistics service providers that connect to it. Our platform helps businesses accelerate their digital transformation. The network digitises transactions with all network partners, taps into modern data sources, and integrates external data to internal operating systems. Companies establish a connection to Elemica’s platform and reuse that connection to access all other partners on the network, automate various processes across those partners and gain visibility into their supply chain.

How instrumental are your leadership skills to the future success of your team?

The Elemica team has years of experience in design, engineering, implementation, and service. We have visionaries on our team. It is essential to drive these visions to relate to customer issues and at the same time address challenges in the industry as a whole.

How did Elemica begin and what is the vision for the next few years?

Elemica started when 20 top global chemical companies got together to create a network that would facilitate these companies to buy and sell to/from each other. About a decade ago, we redeveloped our network, in response to what the customer wants, in order to incorporate new technologies that made the network become a platform that would make it easier for companies to conduct commerce with each other while addressing other business processes. We made it easier for business trading partners to connect to the network and added more intelligence to the transactions and data sharing so that critical business decisions could be made by well-informed participants. For the future, Elemica will continue to add functionality to the network that will improve interoperability between disparate systems and networks. Next-generation technologies like blockchain, machine learning, IoT, supply chain quality, and others are being tested, implemented, and integrated into the network and Elemica offerings.

What does Risk Management mean to you, and how can Elemica assist?

Companies today are hit with supply chain disruptions from all angles including bad weather, late payments, loss of transport mode, socio-economic, political issues, and more. Enterprises need to be prepared to address and mitigate supply chain risks to continue providing value, to exceed customers and partners expectations, and maintain brand integrity.  

Elemica provides a Risk Management solution called Elemica Risk. It integrates with weather and global risk event data, correlating incidents with a customer’s network assets, orders and shipments to detect and understand the impact of disruptive events. Elemica customers can discern which orders and products are impacted by location, what alternative shipping methods exist and the economic impact if orders are delayed. Elemica Risk is a visibility application incorporating supply chain threat detection, qualification, early warning, and network assessment. Understanding events that disrupte their ability to deliver to customers and take steps to mitigate before interrupting service saves Elemica’s customers from losing significant revenue.

What do you feel are the major trends you are observing in the supply chain industry and how is Elemica responding to them?

Companies are always looking for ways to increase revenues, sustain growth, and improve the customer experience. This can happen when the supply chain is digitally transformed, providing greater visibility into what is happening across the enterprise. We are seeing companies wanting to integrate outside of their four walls. This can be done with a collaborative network that digitally connects all trading partners within a company’s ecosystem quickly, easily and cost effectively.

Global supply chains are continually being regulated by government regulations and compliance requirements. To help manage compliance, supply chain and quality management leaders organise material and shipment information with appropriate certifications. Through Elemica Quality, alerts can also be set up to know well in advance if certifications are about to expire or deviations in material are occurring during the transportation process. Elemica Quality’s proactive alerts help to prevent non-conformance and save monies while ensuring customer satisfaction.

We are seeing trends in the integration of emerging technologies (Blockchain, Machine Learning, and AI) within the supply chain, from pilot projects to full production. In a Blockchain pilot programme, Elemica and crossinx, a network for financial business collaboration solution, exist as nodes on a public blockchain, connecting structured data with unstructured data, such as documents, to enable multi-tier payment. In the pilot, two large global chemical companies facilitate document and data transfer of invoices, purchase orders, delivery tenders and proof-of-delivery posts. With the ability to connect to a digital network, blockchain functionality can be made accessible to support a many-to-many connection of companies, facilitating payment processing.

Do you have any involvement in award programmes either internally or externally or both?

Elemica applies for numerous awards for executives, for the business, for our technology, and for the supply chain industry. We have won a significant number of awards in these categories.

In terms of innovation, how important is that to Elemica? In what ways do you manage to continue to innovate and set the trends?

Elemica continues to drive innovation in its digital supply network and supply chain applications to bring improvements in efficiency and productivity across the supply chains of our customers. We continually strive to drive value for clients by bringing greater efficiencies to their organisations through improved collaboration and lower supply chain spend.

As part of continued innovation, Elemica participates in leading industry trends and forums, listens to customers, and follows social and business market trends that drive our product roadmaps across vertical industries and geographical markets.

If you had to look at the supply chain industry overall, what do you feel the big drivers in transformation are at the moment?

In today’s competitive world, businesses undergo a digital transformation of their supply chains to sense, respond and act more effectively with the ultimate driver to improve efficiencies, bottom-line profits and customer satisfaction. 

Companies join Elemica’s Digital Supply Network (DSN) because it captures event and transaction data across the entire supply chain. This creates a critical mass of real-time business information that allows partners to collectively sense and react properly to supply and demand changes and risks in the market. Participants gain a comprehensive picture of business performance both inside and outside their four walls, which allows them to generate strategic and actionable insights from their supply chain network, leading to more mutually beneficial relationships and a clear competitive edge.

Companies also want to eliminate silos within their own four-walls to enable interoperability and integration between other departments’ systems using open APIs, which makes the integration easier and more cost-effective.

Finally, many companies are seeking technology that helps increase revenue by connecting the longtail of the supply chain for complete visibility and greatest agility. The Elemica Digital Supply Network allows businesses to easily buy and sell from each other via automated processes.

With the future in mind, how do you ensure Elemica continues to grow?

We strive to continually shape our products to include both new technologies and also address changing market demands. Elemica ‘s network and supply chain solutions are built with cloud technologies, making integration, support and maintenance much easier. With cloud technologies, most customers can easily upgrade their software without having to use any IT support. The new developments are constantly incorporated into our network platform and the application suites we provide are able to adapt and be flexible in support of industry initiatives.  

Elemica is committed to providing solutions and a platform that is easy, cost-effective, and enables quick connectivity. We have extended our supply chain network by offering greater self-service tools allowing companies to more easily connect with their trading partners. Our tools clean and enrich the data shared across the network.

We are also working on incorporating more next-generation technologies into our solutions, such as artificial intelligence, IoT and machine learning. We offer smart contract development to address specific industry and geographical needs.

Our innovations also connect to larger societal issues. For example, Elemica Quality improves customer satisfaction, corporate profits, and product quality. Morton Salt uses Elemica Quality to reduce the cost and time associated with the production of customer-bound certificates. As consumers, we are generally most familiar with the salt we use in food, but even here, the story is not as simple as it sounds. Different methods are employed to incorporate salt into our food or as part of processing it. These methods and the execution of their processes are invisible to consumers but are driven by a focus on quality, i.e., the performance of their products for which they are intended.