For supply chains to survive, they must be flexible and responsive. This means that teams must be able to work together seamlessly and quickly make changes that benefit the whole network, such as synchronizing schedules or adjusting transportation routes. This type of collaborative planning is often made possible by technology, such as those used for enhancing supply chain visibility and response time.
These technologies include enabling cloud computing platforms, the Internet of Things (IoT) and advanced analytics tools. Combined, these technologies can help companies reduce supply chain complexity and cost by eliminating information silos and strengthening collaboration. They can also enable better coordination between different business functions and enhance on-time delivery, agility, resilience and accuracy.
The most advanced planning technologies are designed to reshape traditional supply chain processes by using a network-centric, concurrent modeling and optimization approach that enables teams to quickly find solutions to unexpected events or disruptions. For example, when a port strike limits inbound supply or the Covid pandemic erodes customer demand, it’s crucial that a team be able to rapidly define and model alternatives and begin assessing their impact. This process is often called 'alert planning' and is supported by advanced technology platforms that use multi-objective discrete optimization techniques with goal programming.
This new holistic modeling approach eliminates functional silos that can slow planning and response times in a crisis by ensuring that planners across departments have the latest data. Previously, planners worked in functional areas and didn’t communicate or share their plans with each other. The result was that when a problem emerged it could take weeks for teams to understand the implications and respond. Concurrent planning allows teams to collaborate seamlessly and synchronize schedules so they can react instantly rather than waiting for the next planned decision-making window.