May 17, 2020

Big Data revolutionising the supply chains

Hugh Simpson
3 min
Hugh Simpson looks at how Big Data is revolutionising supply chains
Supply chains, in general, were much simpler processes in the 1980s when they first received mainstream attention.

However, supply chains have existed...

Supply chains, in general, were much simpler processes in the 1980s when they first received mainstream attention.

However, supply chains have existed since the industrial era. The main difference between their operation then, and how they are organized now, comes down to complexity. Often, supply chains were local or domestic. With technology making the economy more global, however, supply chains have gained more moving parts than ever before. In the late 90s and early 2000s, globalisation was a blessing for prices, but a curse for supply chains. With Big Data becoming a larger and more user-friendly asset, modern supply chains are being revolutionized.
 

Creating a wealth of shared knowledge

The biggest driving force behind this modern big data wave is that it can now be captured, understood, and utilized. While transactions were always captured data, creating a knowledge-sharing network based on the insights gained from big data analytics has become just as important, according to Forbes. Transactions were able to capture how, when, and where people make purchases.

With the addition of supply chain analysis, manufactures, retailers, and distributors can now optimize how best to get products to consumers. Thanks to geoanalytics, this can be done both faster and in a more cost efficient manner as supply chains reimagine their distribution routes. This has resulted in a 425% improvement in order-to-delivery times, and a 260% improvement in efficiency.

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Managing risk and creating agility

In a recent study, it was found that 61% of leading supply chain management companies would consider risk very important. With better geoanalytics, tractability has also improved, which is leading to shipped products being accounted for from the start of their journey until the end.

Based on all the data collected from supply routes, successful deliveries, and problems that have been reported, those running supply chains are now armed with data that will allow them to recognize potential problems before they pop up, and proactively address potential kinks in their distribution system. This also speaks to the modern supply chain’s flexibility. With this additional knowledge in hand, routes can be changed to account for issues that arise after the delivery process has begun.

Customers: increasing retention and satisfaction

We’ve all heard the phrase “the customer is always right,” so if a customer changes their order overnight, or after a delivery has already gone out, they expect suppliers to meet their needs as soon as possible. While this can be a burden, 90% of customers who had a company fail to meet their demands will not do business with them again.

With this number in mind, suppliers will need to do everything they can to satisfy their consumers. Thanks to big data and analytics, suppliers will not only be able to get another order out the door efficiently, but they also have the opportunity to anticipate an increase in demand based on previous orders and market trends.

By Hugh Simpson - Global Lead for Fintech, Data & Analytics, AI & Industry 4.0.

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Jun 23, 2021

Japan Seeks to Revive Stalled Semiconductor Industry

TSMC
Taiwan
Japan
Semiconductor
Elise Leise
3 min
As international supply chains falter, the Japanese government intends to incentivise foreign chipmakers to build localised foundries

Post-pandemic, Japan has seen the consequences of relying solely on foreign imports for its semiconductors. Over 64.2% of its chips are usually imported from South Korea and Taiwan, leaving the country dependent on its neighbours. Industries from auto manufacturers to consumer electronics firms wait for chips, to no avail. But now, the Japanese government looks likely to put real funding behind its semiconductor industry, with top officials emphasising their support.

 

Domestic supply chains have never been more important. Rather than remain tied to international shipping routes during shortages and delays, governments are doing everything in their power to develop local lines of supply. But the question remains: can Japan pull it off? 

 

How Will Japan Pay For It? 

Herein lies our first issue. Japan’s debt has rapidly increased over the past few years, and the semiconductor industry will need roughly a trillion yen—US$9bn—in this fiscal year alone. This cost, however, pales in comparison to what Japan could lose if it fails to keep up with Europe and the US. Both nations have launched aggressive funding measures to revive their local semiconductor industries. And if Japan refuses to invest due to its debt, it could slow down progress in fields ranging from artificial intelligence to autonomous driving. 

 

According to Tetsuro Higashi, the former president of Tokyo Electron and Japan’s top government advisor in semiconductor strategy, ‘If we miss this opportunity now, there may not be another one’. Yet one advanced wafer fabrication factory can cost more than US$10bn, and any money poured into the industry will go fast. That’s why Japan, rather than invest trillions and trillions in failing domestic firms, is considering a second option. 

 

What Do They Plan To Do? 

Japan now intends to look abroad and convince overseas chip foundries to come to its shores. Its past failures mostly centred on trying to merge domestic firms that were already going through tough times. ‘This sort of made-in-Japan self-reliance approach hasn’t worked out well’, said Kazumi Nishikawa, a director at the Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry’s IT division. ‘This time the goal is to offer a strong incentive for an overseas logic foundry to come to Japan’. 

 

As follows, Japan will now reach out to industry partners and leaders in other countries, including the industry heavyweight Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to build Japanese bases. According to the South China Morning Post, the heart of Japan’s mission is a US$337.2mn research and development project in Tsukuba that will involve TSMC and more than 20 Japanese firms. ‘I think we need to cooperate with our overseas counterparts’, said Akira Amari, a senior member of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. ‘[And] TSMC is the world’s top logic chipmaker’. 


Indeed, if that’s Japan’s strategy, the future looks bright. TSMC recently set up a venture near Tokyo to research energy-efficient 3D chips with several Japanese partners. And in the future, the multinational chipmaker may consider expanding its Japanese operations—that is, if government incentives pave the path forward.

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