Oct 22, 2020

Providing Supply Chain Solutions ─ The UPS Way

Supply Chain
SCM Solutions
Oliver Freeman
4 min
UPS Worldwide Services in Germany.
Supply chains get increasingly complex and sophisticated as years go by, and companies like UPS are striving to make them both more accessible and simpl...

In an era of technological revolution, the day-to-day processes of every business have been disrupted and, in many cases, completely changed. The process of digital transformation has touched almost everything, and while it is often positive, it sometimes makes processes far more confusing and difficult to get your head around. 

United Parcel Service, or UPS, the American multinational package delivery and supply chain management company, deals with supply chain management and navigates logistical lanes on a daily basis. The company is willing to help you too; the company “famous for delivering packages all over the planet with legendary precision also offers a wealth of services and expertise to help streamline global supply chains, too.” 

It’s a great time to look at UPS’s solution, too, given that updated research on Supply Chain and Logistics for B2B Market by ‘Market Growth Insight’ has just delivered pivotal information on the market including the challenges, drivers, opportunities, and restraints. The report reveals the changing competitive dynamics in the global B2B marketplace and announces the incredible projection of growth through 2026, based on analytics and statistics from 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's clear that the very best supply chains are continuously working ─ they never stop running, and they’re resilient to the potential adversity and threats that natural disasters and human interference sometimes present. UPS keep their clients and customers’ humming along by helping them in three fundamental areas: “the doing; the seeing, and the optimising.” Why? Because, as the company says, “it just makes sense: if you’re better at those things than other companies in your industry, then you enjoy a significant competitive advantage.” 

It’s just common sense, really ─ and UPS are more than happy to help you apply it. It should always prevail, after all. 

Doing: Execute & Manage

One of the biggest issues that small-and-medium-sized businesses face is administrative; as you innovate solutions to problems, launch new products, and start to see the cash rolling-in, your business tends to scale upwards. With that comes new products, extensive stock lists, and a myriad of suppliers. It can get a little complicated, trying to keep track of who’s who and what’s where ─ UPS Supply Chain Solutions provides a platform where you can consolidate and unify all of the details in one place ─ it’s effective, efficient, and most importantly, it is simple. 

And, of course, you’ll have the might of UPS behind you ─ a world leader in logistics across all mediums of transportation; one of the world’s top customs brokers, and all the knowledge in the world about warehousing, distribution, and all the additional factors of logistics services.

Seeing: Transparency For All

Have you ever heard the term, “It takes a village”? If you haven’t, it simply means that it could take a lot of people to get the job done ─ something that is wholly applicable to the global supply chain network. There are many cogs in the supply chain engine, and each one has to be clearly visible to ensure that it is working correctly and in unison with the others. UPS have invested billions in smart technology so that their platform users can monitor orders from end-to-end; this transparency is crucial for customer satisfaction and, if ever an issue crops up, you will be able to anticipate and counteract is before any damage is done. 

“When you can see things clearly, you can tell customers, “We got this.” 

Optimising: Getting the Best

Optimisation. What can we say about optimisation, other than the fact that it is absolutely crucial to just about every service offered by a business, today? When it comes to supply chain management, UPS has been around for a long-time; the company is like an industry-seasoned veteran with years worth of expertise that they’re willing to share with the ‘new kid on the block’. UPS’s depth and breadth of supply chain experience can add unexpected value to your company ─ they can make sure you get your end-to-end supply chain right; your logistics network; supplier and cash management, and they can even assist you with global trade compliance support. 

You should note that not every supply chain management solution provider offers the latter. 

But that’s my opinion. Why not take a look at UPS Supply Chain Solutions, yourself, and see if they can level up your supply chain game? 


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Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”


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