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  • 19 Aug 2020
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  • Supply Chain
  • Supply Chain Orchestration
  • Supply Chain Platform

How does a Supply Chain Platform Work?


Table of Contents:

Data Management

Informational Supply Chain Platforms

Physical Supply Chain Platforms

Cloud-Based Supply Chain Platforms

GeTS CALISTA Supply Chain Orchestration

Supply chains are complex networks of groups and activities. A supply chain platform primarily consolidates information, technology, and other resources into one accessible location, usually online. Digital platforms attempt to simplify supply chain activities and make it easier for participants to work together, share information, and access supplies, expertise, talent, funding, and support.


Digital platforms are becoming more sophisticated and offering more opportunities for businesses and the public sector to manage complex supply chains. With increased visibility into operations and access to big data, enterprises can optimize efficiencies and become more innovative.


Data Management


One of the best things about supply chain platforms is how information is managed and organized. Accumulated data at each step of the chain is available to decision makers and any participant who is granted access. In manufacturing, a physical product can be cloned digitally for gathering data throughout its lifecycle—data that can be used to develop better products and predict consumer behavior.


In the mining industry for instance, supply chain platforms with blockchain technologies are used to track the movement of diamonds and to verify authenticity. Big retailers are also pioneers when it comes to using digital platforms to improve safety standards and track food products, including sourcing, manufacturing, storage and disposal.


The Internet of Things (IoT), where equipment and machines are plugged in for data collection, are also part of supply chain platforms. Real-time data from machines used in transport, logistics, manufacturing, security, and other industries improve safety, product development, and maintenance services.


Supply chain platforms are connecting financial institutions and governments directly with enterprises and consumers, cutting out the middle men and reducing the cost of doing business. Supply chain platforms offer advantages to customers, too. Many companies already provide origins, manufacturing procedures, and other product data to help us make better purchase decisions.


Digital platforms have great potential especially in logistics, where it can speed up the movement of cargo, provide real-time tracking information, and record equipment feedback. Digital platforms can also expedite the transition from tedious legacy systems to automated, modern solutions.


Informational Supply Chain Platforms


Technologies and processes that promote supply chain data sharing combine to create information supply chain platforms. Examples are Task Rabbit, Google Express and other platforms for last mile home deliveries, where customers use their phones to buy a range of products from nearby retailers. Payment, order confirmation and customer surveys are also done within the platform. Orders are shipped to independent local couriers and other transport professionals for pickup or delivery.


As more retailers and delivery providers join the platform, consumers have more options and more opportunities to find exactly what they’re looking for. A larger base of participants improves delivery times, especially for same day orders. For analysts and marketers, more shoppers mean cheaper delivery options and valuable data that can be mined to provide new services and improve existing ones.


Physical Supply Chain Platforms


Physical assets, technologies (sensors, robots, drones), and facilities (warehouses, factories) come together to create physical supply chain platforms that companies use to improve physical product handling and performance. One example is an online catalog of products from global manufacturers and suppliers. Business-to-business (B2B) companies can access the catalog from anywhere in the world to request last minute parts and other items.


The parent company has a large network of 3D printing facilities across hundreds of global centers and thousands of stores to print the products for same-day or next-day delivery through its logistics operations. Suppliers like Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) make their blueprints and designs available for printing, and they are paid a commission on orders. A physical supply chain platform thus consolidates a multi-step supply chain into a streamlined single-step operation, which greatly reduces handling and logistics costs while improving delivery times.


Cloud-Based Supply Chain Platforms


Supply chain platforms are moving to the cloud, where a large number of participants can share information and collaborate. Cloud-based supply chain platforms provide unique benefits compared to traditional platforms.


Standardized information. Traditional supply chain information tends to be siloed and fragmented. Data is also available in multiple formats that can be difficult to access for participants using legacy systems and even the latest systems. Cloud-based platforms consolidate all supply chain information in one place (the cloud) and provides tools for converting data into accessible formats. Data is also validated to reduce errors and duplication.


Improved visibility. When information from multiple participants is accessible from a single location, each group benefits from improved visibility. Users can pinpoint the exact location of orders, they can receive real-time status updates from suppliers, apply for loans and make payments with financial institutions, see a complete view of operations across time zones, work with potential partners, and strengthen relationships with existing ones—all from a single platform.


Better access to financial support. Cross-border trade relies heavily on funding from financial institutions. A cloud-based supply chain platform connects businesses directly with lenders to access financial support. Lenders can see inventories and the financial status of credit applicants to make better decisions. Based on platform data, lenders can also reward on-time and early payers, promote new services, give discounts, and track activity.


Future planning. Successful organizations are forward looking. They need data for contingency planning, anticipating disruptions, and developing new products and services. Cloud-based supply chain platforms with AI support are excellent big data repositories. AI can process huge amounts of seemingly disparate information, from weather reports to shipment delays, to make accurate forecasts about cargo movement, purchasing trends, consumer behavior, and more.


Access numerous applications. Cloud-based supply chain platforms make it easy for participants to access applications that streamline processes and improve productivity. From online payment channels to accounting software to supplier onboarding, apps add value to the service and extend functionalities seamlessly within the cloud, unlike offline tools.


Cut through red tape. Cloud-based supply chain platforms connect businesses directly with other businesses, government agencies, financial institutions, and consumers. Invoices, electronic customs declarations, credit applications, packing lists, and other documents can be created and filed within minutes. Accounts and user information are updated in real-time, unlike traditional platforms where data is often entered manually.

GeTS CALISTA Supply Chain Orchestration


Executives should be integrating platform design thinking into their supply chain strategy to leverage opportunities as they appear. One way of doing this is to invest in tools, particularly emerging technologies, that are innovative, flexible, and forward looking. In-house researchers or third party consultants could be employed to conduct cost-benefit analysis on these investments, focusing on cost savings and other benefits to the entire supply chain, including competitors and partners.


Implementing innovative supply chain platforms is a win-win for businesses, partners and consumers as it removes barriers to entry, increases options, and lowers costs. Technologies keep evolving into industry-centered tools, and businesses will see them embedded across supply chains. Decision makers should look be looking at how these tools could be used to address disruptions and drive value within and outside the organization.


Building an in-house supply chain platform is a monumental undertaking. Small and midsize businesses, and even multinationals, turn to outside experts who offer pre-built, secure, and well-maintained platforms. It’s far simpler and more cost effective to join a pre-existing supply chain platform like CALISTA.


CALISTA is an electronic platform and network underpinned by advanced technology to improve collaboration among supply chain participants: businesses, governments and trade communities. CALISTA features enhanced security through Open Trade Blockchain (OTB), seamless collaboration through direct connection with industry partners and customs authorities around the world, and smart processing that reduces errors and ensures data integrity.


Learn more by visiting our CALISTA supply chain platform page or contact us today!



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