Issue 7 2020 Logistics (Industry)
The logistics industry relied heavily on people in the past, and to a large extent still does today. As in every other sphere of life, however, the role technology plays is increasing rapidly, with a host of solutions available to streamline supply chains and increase the efficiency of logistics in general.
Hi-Tech Security Solutions asked two experts in the field for their insights into how technology can and is changing the game.
Eamon McCann, CTO of The Argility Technology Group:
The ongoing advances in IOT capabilities have positioned technology as a strong enabler in the management and security of assets. There are various devices readily available that leverage GSM, Sigfox and LoRaWAN technologies, as well as others including RFID tags/labels and BLE beacons. These are now all potential options to cost-effectively assist in the identification of the physical positioning of assets for both static and mobile security applications.
The potential areas that could benefit are extensive, and range across multiple industries, including construction, mining, manufacturing and agriculture. Moreover, associated assets such as vehicles, machinery, fridges, crates/produce etc. can be identified and tracked to a specific geolocation, enhancing visibility and providing an associated increase in security and assisting in loss prevention.
Argility’s SkyData IOT cloud platform enables these capabilities by allowing asset tracking and exception management, thereby enabling supply chain security and the efficiency of associated processes. Geofencing allows event and alert creation for entry and exit conditions, for example, automatically raising a proof of delivery when an asset reaches its predefined destination, as well as tamper and theft alerts when assets move location without authorisation.
Other applications like the tracking of pallets and cages with RFID capability when entering receiving bays or leaving dispatch areas can assist in reducing loss and driving efficiencies through the warehouse and the wider supply chain. Configurable alarms and alerts, with various levels of severity, can be routed to the appropriate level(s) within the organisational hierarchy to ensure visibility and auditability for any such event.
SkyData can integrate into any business operational system, feed from and to multiple data sources and deliver data sets to any mobile device. It provides for Web-based administration plus configuration and it includes mobile apps for both Android and iOS for remote access – anytime, anywhere. The bottom line is that this IoT platform is set to transform asset and resource monitoring management.
Shaun O’Brien, CEO of CQuential
If you are not considering technology within your business or do not at least have a strategy around implementing technology, the company may be at a disadvantage when compared to its peers. Technology is the name of the game. It’s not seen as a luxury anymore but a necessity to do business in a highly competitive environment.
Supply chains have been one of the business functions that have benefited the most when it comes to technology and the capabilities it has to offer. A modern supply chain is at the point where it will not be relevant or valuable to an organisation if there is no intention of implementing technology to keep up with industry standards.
Technology enables businesses to automate manual processes and get people to focus on other areas that can add value to the organisation. The company is also in a better position to handle complexity and meet the needs of a customer with high expectations concerning turnaround time and service. Information sharing and collaboration across partners and departments is also crucial when it comes to running an efficient operation.
Warehouse management is a specific function within the supply chain that has benefited from technology over the last 10 years. The technology has driven the following benefits:
Technology is changing the way the warehouse operates for the better. It’s becoming more affordable and readily available to any size of business. The key is to have a digital roadmap and prioritise the different items based on operational requirements. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to technology. The first step is to understand the current business and processes. Once this is understood the next phase will be to understand the functionality and business proposition of the various solutions and how they can be applied to your specific use case. The last step will be to review and measure to understand if the business is achieving the business benefits that it set out to achieve in the beginning.
Source: Hi-Tech Security Solutions
by Rina Redelinghuys, Customer Services Executive of CQuential
Until Covid-19 began wreaking its havoc, global companies have run their supply chain on the assumption that disruptions would be rare and short-lived, and that products should be sourced, produced and distributed at the cheapest locations to be found – wherever in the world that may be.
The pandemic has hit the business world with unprecedented scale and speed. It has caused the closure of businesses, the stoppage of factory outputs and disruption to global manufacturing industries and their supply networks.
Major industries have significantly been affected, including automotive, electronics, pharmaceuticals, medical equipment and supplies, consumer goods, and more. This is a result of China becoming a world production centre over the past two to three decades. When China went into lockdown, some five million companies were impacted globally. Why? Because China is the world’s leading supplier of components, raw or processed materials and major subsystems. With the vulnerability of such ultra-dependence on China now exposed, businesses should be planning on how to increase the resilience of their supply chains.
Future supply chain designs need to be monitored using new performance measures, such as:
Let’s take a deeper dive into ways you can improve your Supply Chain Resilience:
1. Source local – Shorten your supply chain
Establish production facilities with local suppliers in each of your company’s major markets. Not only does this even-out the risk, but transportation costs are lower.
Benefits of local sourcing:
2. Create transparency
This process involves determining the critical components required for your operations, thereafter, working with production personnel to identify which ones are sourced from high-risk areas and lack immediate substitutes.
With this in place, a company will be able to identify specific vulnerabilities across the multi-tier supply chain.
3. Diversify your operations
The companies most likely to emerge strongly from the Covid-19 crisis are those that had diversified their operations and implemented multi-sourcing strategies. It has been argued that the marginal benefits of concentrating production geographically, in order to save money, are diminishing. By running a number of plants in different locations, not much is lost in efficiency, but traction is gained towards resiliency. The reasoning behind this is that the chances of all plants being disrupted at the same time are significantly reduced. Instead of being forced to scramble for products or components the next time global production lines are disrupted by a major disaster, companies that take steps to diversify their operations will rather direct their energy towards maximising the deployment of the resources still available.
4. Create redundancy
An expensive and inefficient option, redundancy in this context means keeping excess capacity or back-up across the entire supply chain in case of shock events, such as natural catastrophes and epidemics. Typically, it involves carrying extra inventory and hiring more workers than necessary. The real challenge is to find the right balance between a lean, hyper-efficient supply chain that carries no fat but is vulnerable to unexpected shocks, and a slow moving, ineffective one that may be ultra-resilient but is expensive to maintain.
5. Measure risks using latest technology
Performing regular supplier audits and measuring of risks should be part of general business practice, but until now, few companies have invested time or money in this vital activity. Smart software procurement choices, in areas such as business intelligence, risk assessment and data management, will allow you to produce predictive models for supply and demand in times of local, national or global uncertainty. Effective modelling can have a significant impact on your supply chain resilience.
How resilient is your supply chain?
Take the first step and contact one of our business development consultants at CQuential. Explore your options with one of our experts on providing remotely delivered assistance in developing new plans for supply chain resilience.
By Shaun O’Brien, CEO of CQuential
The world has been severely impacted by COVID-19 and foreseeably changed the way we will do business forever. The worldwide lockdowns have essentially brought the global economy to a standstill forcing businesses to work out how they will survive and operate post-lockdown.
Supply chains are under tremendous pressure to deliver essential services and key medical supplies, in order to ensure that the market gets the right product needed during these difficult times. This has resulted in businesses needing to review their business models and structure themselves in a way that will safeguard their survival within the new economy.
Key points of reference for building a resilient supply chain can be broken down into:
For supply chains to continue to operate and remain competitive, these points have transformed from being good ideas/nice to haves – to essential. If businesses do not transform and make key decisions around these innovations within their supply chain, their survival will be questionable and their ability to compete in the new economy will be compromised.
Warehousing is one of the key nodes within a supply chain operating across the globe. The warehouse ensures inventory is available for when the customer demands a product. Companies build / design warehouses not only based on today’s requirement, but take into consideration the future growth of the business and what will be required within the next 5 years’ to remain competitive. The reality is that very few businesses have built a warehouse to deal with a serious pandemic like COVID-19 in mind, resulting in the lack of ability to handle the needs of business due to the pressures from the pandemic.
In spite of best efforts, in the short term it’s not easy to change a warehouse configuration to cater for the changes in the business requirements. The only option businesses have today, is to make better use of their current warehousing capacity and become more efficient to deal with the pandemic. To add to the complexity, the new regulations around COVID-19 regarding social distancing and safe environment, increases the business challenges in the future.
A good place to start in terms of assessing your current warehouse capabilities, would be to ask what tools are currently in place to enable the warehouse to perform optimally?
Key objectives would be:
A WMS (Warehouse Management System) is one of many tools that can assist in terms of achieving these objectives.
CQuential Solutions forms part of the Argility Technology Group and is well positioned to assist with achieving the above objectives. Our tools have been implemented across many different verticals and size of warehouse. The CQuential team is made up of supply chain professionals and a strong development team to help you to transform your warehouse.
We believe that the supply chain is dynamic and ever changing, requiring in depth knowledge of your business to add value. We work closely with our customers to build and validate our roadmap to ensure our customers’ warehouses remain relevant and up to date with the latest technology to maintain a world class operation.
If you have been on the fence regarding whether to transform your business and implement a digitisation strategy, now is the time to pull the trigger to survive. The past 60 days have been an eye opener as to how quickly what was regarded as fringe technology is being embraced. Someone even said to me that it is a case of 4 years of digitisation being crammed into 2 months.
There are some steps every Supply Chain can make right now to prepare for the “New Normal”.
At CQuential, part of the Argility Technology Group (ATG), we have been pioneering the way forward for Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) since our start in 2007/2008, taking what was an operational system and making it accessible, affordable and fast in the cloud. These challenges are an opportunity for us to assist businesses to transform and adapt their current way of working and digitising them.
Some crucial steps that will assist your supply chain to navigate this storm:
Visibility and access to Real time data
Many businesses today run reactive Supply Chains still making use of paper-based solutions. Through implementation of the right business solutions in your Supply Chain, you can make use of technologies to capture and execute tasks such as receiving, picking, dispatching and supplying goods.
Through integrated solutions and business processes, Supply Chains can shrink and the number of touches on your product can be reduced.
Digitising all records and transactions
Paperless societies have been a long time in the making. This crisis has just highlighted the inefficient paper-based methodologies in the digital age. Sign on glass has had a very short-lived life cycle given the new era of social distancing and hygiene.
Using the correct solution providers to digitise your supply chain is crucial to solving this problem. At ATG, we are ahead of the curve with our delivery application being driven by something as simple as an OTP or One-time pin. A further step would be to incorporate block chain into your supply chain for a complete touch free and secure Supply Chain.
Automation and Machine Learning
If COVID-19 has shown us anything, a large inefficient work force during normal times can still perform miracles using the old ways of Supply Chain, however with the new restrictions on business and number of people allowed at your offices, this will no longer be the case. Through a simple implementation of scanning and a WMS you would achieve great gains in efficiency. At CQuential, we are now gearing up our solution to include features of Warehouse controls and execution, so that with our software you can automate your warehouse environment.
With Machine Learning, you will be able to gain insights to optimise your work force, your stock locations, your work and instruction execution. All this is achievable through the analysis of your Supply Chain data.
So, with the fence changing, climb on down and talk to us at CQuential and ATG to help find the perfect solution for your Business Problems. For more information contact CQuential on 011 712 1300; email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our website www.cquential.com
Argility, a member of the Argility Technology Group, has revealed details of its 21-year journey with the Shoprite Furniture Group, trading under the brands of OK Furniture, House & Home and OK Power Express.
In 1998, Argility was appointed by the retail giant to provide Shoprite Furniture – a trading division of Shoprite Holdings – with end-to-end robust, dynamic, bespoke software solutions – from in-store POS to back-office to multiple third-party interfaces.
Jai Kalyan, Argility Executive, says the relationship commenced with a roll-out to approximately 160 stores. “It has now grown to over 520 stores operating in SA, Lesotho, Botswana, Swaziland, Namibia, Zambia, Angola and Mozambique.” Kalyan says that over and above the retail management solution, services include:
He notes the distributed architecture allows stores to trade even if the network is down, plus there are daily backups to a central server to ensure stores can be restored should it be required.
By their very nature, retail chains have a highly distributed organisational structure. Kalyan explains that individual stores need to be able to operate independently if communications are interrupted. “But it is also critical that data is consolidated in order to provide business intelligence, particularly relating to inventory optimisation and customer relationship management. A robust backup/disaster recovery solution is also crucial to ensure that data is never lost and store downtime is kept to an absolute minimum,” he says.
Keeping the business running in order to best serve its customers is top of every successful retailer’s agenda. “Retailers are acutely aware of the need to continue delivering more value to their customers, and as such, must constantly assess the latest developments in technology and trends in the sector. The consolidated data provided by Argility’s solutions provides the raw material for better intelligence to improve all aspects of our customers’ businesses, from ensuring ideal quantities of goods at each store and better debtor management, to improving customer insight and, ultimately, service.
“Argility’s software has kept pace with technology advances, which means we can provide cutting-edge solutions including initial credit application via cellphone, in-store use of tablets for salesmen, flash figures app for managers, automated cash upload system plus integration and use of Web services and more. All of this translates into competitive edge in the retail environment,” Kaylan concludes.
Supply chain management is a multifaceted undertaking that extends beyond the scope of a single organisation. What was historically viewed as a cost centre with the main purpose of moving stock from A to B, has today evolved into a critical enabler of business. In the past supply chain management key objectives revolved around reducing operational costs within certain areas of but not viewing it as a collective set of activities aimed at delivering value to the end customer – which today is the holistic take on the sector.
As with all sectors of commerce, in the age of digital transformation and disruption, technology is the driver of change. New digital technologies that have the potential to take over supply chain management entirely are already disrupting traditional ways of working.
Research guru Gartner* notes that supply chain leaders today must examine how emerging technologies such as AI, robotics and blockchain will affect their business, and decide where and how to invest. Companies are scrambling to put digital foundations in place that can capture, analyse, integrate, access, and interpret high quality data. This refers to the real-time data that fuels process automation, predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and robotics with the capacity to not only change the entire shape and face of the supply chain industry but are the technologies that are predicted to soon take over the sector.
An article in Select Hub** suggest that robots may become the biggest co-worker in the warehouse of the not too distant future. These new robots will be nothing like the industrial robot of the past but are autonomous mobile robots which are intelligent and can follow humans through a complex warehouse as the employee selects items for an order (called picking in the trade) and can also be used to deliver goods to and from people. They are, as such, collaborative robots that interestingly support, but do not replace, humans.
However, other sources suggest that within five to ten years, the supply chain function may be obsolete, replaced by a smoothly running, self-regulating utility that optimally manages end-to-end work flows and requires very little human intervention***.
This is hardly the stuff of science fiction movies – it is already well underway. However, great advances often bring bigger challenges and these developments are no exception to that fact. So while technology has been a crucial enabler of collaboration within the supply chain these advances will inevitably be accompanied by risks – one of the biggest being the predicted increase in cybercrime as new technologies such as AI and IoT are integrated into the arena.
Therefore, the supply chain of tomorrow will look quite different with increased: visibility; automation and sharing of information, across partners up and down stream. The focus will be on how to use gathered data to improve operational performance. In the past this was a retrospective procedure with companies examining collected data and based on what the findings revealed, decisions taken to address any issues. However, this approach often led to time delays and loss of business with obvious negative financial impact.
Today there is a shift to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning into the supply chain which allows companies to be more proactive and change strategies for the future in real time, and in so doing, capitalise on opportunities that may arise. Automation and advanced manufacturing are already having significant impact on supply chains and will continue to do so by reshape countries that have traditionally been the engines of global supply chains. Moreover, labour force and the total cost of sourcing, especially in industries that are suited to automation, will also be affected.
In conclusion data is becoming a key asset that drives organisational strategy. Going forward increasing emphasis will be placed on how organisations process data and how it can be used to predict and mitigate future risks to the operational success of the business.
Source: Engineering News
The logistics of obtaining, storing and moving the right stock at the right time is a challenge in any industry, but more so in the healthcare business where the consequences of mistakes go further than simply losing money. Steve Mallaby, CEO of CQuential Solutions, spoke to Hi-Tech Security Solutions about the logistics of securely storing and moving medicines through the channel, from manufacturers to patients.
Mallaby says the best way to address the issue is by directly relating the details around a national leader in this sector and a long standing customer of CQuential, Cipla, one of South Africa’s leading pharmaceutical manufacturers. “The complexities and compliance requirements surrounding Cipla Gateway Distribution’s move to a new, state-of-the-art warehouse facility in Tableview, with the goal of ensuring that operations were transferred seamlessly with minimal downtime, gives a bird’s-eye view of problems around secure storage and movement of medicines through the channel.
“In a nutshell, it is about getting the right medicines to the right patient at the right time, especially when dealing with lifesaving chronic medication. But it is also critical to get stock rotation right, i.e. the management of expiry dates. It doesn’t help to dispatch your new goods first because you land up with old and expired stock.”
Additionally, in the case of medicines which must be stored at the correct temperature, it is critical to ensure the ‘cold chain’ is preserved across the entire supply chain.
Established in 1935 in India, Cipla is a global manufacturer of pharmaceuticals, with a vision of providing world-class medicines at affordable prices. It manufactures more than 1500 products across 65 therapeutic categories. It currently operates in more than 170 countries. Cipla is one of South Africa’s market leaders in terms of both value and volume.
CQuential Solutions is a software development and services company that provides complete solutions for supply chain and warehouse management. CQuential’s cloud-based, intelligent warehouse management solution (WMS) met the challenges posed by Cipla’s move to the new facility.
In the world of large-scale pharmaceutical distribution, pinpoint accuracy is essential. From a regulatory perspective, medical products must be traceable down to the item. This means from the point of receiving through to sampling, positive release, all the way through to invoice.
Mallaby says there are two reasons for this. “Firstly to trace a batch should it be illegally sold, and secondly, in case of a recall or an enquiry from regulatory bodies requesting a re-test. Additionally, legislation dictates that samples from each batch must be retained for prescribed periods.
“The legal constraints around getting the right product to the right place at the right time are even more crucial in the pharmaceutical industry where we are dealing with expiry dates, scheduled medicines, and quarantine issues.”
Assembling the orders – known as picking in the industry – is difficult because 98% of the distribution is a combination of both cases, plus fine picking. This makes picking orders very inefficient unless a system is in place, so it is vital that the warehouse is correctly set up to support operational efficiency. It is important to understand that hundreds of orders are coming in daily and on each order there are many individual lines making the consolidation of efficient picking very complex. For example, if one additional minute per item is introduced to a situation where thousands of items are being picked per day, costs escalate significantly.
At month-end, the warehouse can be extremely busy with in excess of 7000 lines a day that must be picked, checked and dispatched. This painstaking attention to detail must, of course, be combined with the business need for efficiency and speed.
Given the sheer volumes of Cipla’s South African operation and the large range of stock items, it was clear that achieving the dual goals of efficiency and accuracy required a flexible yet robust warehouse management system. Also, the company was determined to be able to offer market-leading turnaround times and customer service despite the fact that its Cape Town distribution centre was located far from other population centres.
“The accuracy of the CQuential solution greatly enhanced Cipla’s audit processes and assisted with compliance to the various regulations that govern pharmaceutical suppliers,” adds Mallaby. “It also provided the necessary muscle to enable Cipla to bid for and win large national tenders, such as the R2 billion contract with the Department of Health to supply anti-retroviral drugs for the South African government’s HIV/ AIDS programme from 2015 to 2017.
“Another benefit was that the system now drives the process and represents the intellectual capital relating to warehouse management and distribution, a much less risky alternative to relying on the skills and memory of individuals.”
The CQuential team implemented the CQuential Warehouse Management System over a period of approximately nine months. The first step was to conduct business workshops to document Cipla’s requirements, after which the system was suitably configured. A big part of the job was designing an interface with Sage Evolution ERP, as well as with the IT system used by the courier company.
It was also challenging to introduce a new system and its allied processes into an environment that had no previous warehouse management system experience. To streamline the process, Cipla’s management introduced a focused change-management procedure. Mallaby says the outcomes achieved include:
In summary, logistics in the healthcare sector is heavily regulated. For example, whenever medication is handled, particularly within the warehouse, legislation dictates that only certain individuals may handle certain goods. For example, only qualified pharmacists may handle certain schedules of medication.
“The WMS must be intelligent enough to send the right jobs to the right people, and direct where goods may be stored within the warehouse, based on their schedule rating,” explains Mallaby. “With the advent of IOT, it opens up opportunities to increase the ability to track goods in real time, monitor temperature, send alerts etc.
Source: Hi-Tech Security Solutions