The 2020s Will Be The Decade Of The Intelligent Supply Chain

You know, the saying, “Build a better mousetrap, and the world will beat a path to your door!” It’s true, but it’s also only part of the story. 

No matter how brilliant an idea might be, before you can create a successful business, you need to make sure you can purchase all the parts and raw materials to produce your product. Or, to put it another way, you need a reliable supply chain.

Creating one has always been a challenge. And, as Richard Howells, the Vice President for Digital Supply Chain at SAP recently pointed out in a new story in FORBES, it is getting more difficult all the time.

For example, geopolitical unrest is making the need for resilient and agile supply chains more critical than ever. Consumer demand for ethically sourced products is also driving the development of sustainable supply chains.

However, the most far reaching factor may well be the convergence of new technologies – such as AI, ML, IoT and 5G – which will enable the adoption of “intelligent” supply chains. They open the door to highly automated, integrated, and optimized processes that empower companies and their employees to leverage data and make predictive, prescriptive and automated decisions across entire supply chains.

Car parts handled by robots in car factory

From theory to reality

Intelligent supply chains aren’t simply a theoretical concept. They are real, and the benefits can be substantial. 

Take BYTON Limited, for example. Although it is a new start-up in the smart-car market, BYTON is already revolutionizing the automotive industry. Its cars are more than transportation solutions – think of them as fully-connected smart devices on wheels.

To help it hit the ground running, BYTON built its own intelligent supply chain. As a result, it was able to launch its next-generation e-cars in six locations around the globe.

Manufacturing the future

Electric vehicles are clearly the future of mobility, and the market has become fiercely competitive. That put BYTON under extremely tight time-pressure when it was planning to launch its own cars. 

The company realized it needed an automated, global, mass-production capability, built on a robust enterprise platform. In practice that means a central digital core to support all critical supply chain processes, from manufacturing to warehousing, logistics, sales, and service. Or, to put it another way, cutting-edge automotive solutions coupled with the expertise to establish end-to-end, best-practice business processes.

Car Plant Production Line From Above — Image by © Monty Rakusen/cultura/Corbis

Getting it all rolling

Working with SAP Advisory Services to deploy SAP S/4HANA and the SAP Extended Warehouse Management (SAP EWM) application, BYTON Limited has been able to realize advanced production scheduling and sophisticated material planning to support high-volume production.

It has also built a customized logistics execution system (LES) to support end-to-end processes, from inbound to in-plant logistics, on a single platform. And integrated the LES with SAP EWM, providing visibility into parts-and-components inventory management and improving production efficiency.

The impact on BYTON’s competitive edge has been tremendous. For instance, from the very start it has had the ability to transparently track the status of every vehicle throughout the order-to-delivery lifecycle, which helps ensure customer satisfaction. Refined cost management, with a control module in SAP S/4HANA, allows it to  collect, calculate, and analyzing costs by vehicle.

BYTON’s Senior Director of IT, David Dai, believes that the deployment of SAP S/4HANA has made all the difference, describing it as “integral to our success.”

Smarter is faster and better

In these challenging times, product cycles are shrinking, demand is fluctuating, and delivery expectations are shorter than ever. Such market realities bring  tremendous pressure to bear on the entire lifecycle of products and assets. 

In many ways, the best way to address these challenges is to implement an end-to-end digital supply chain – from design and planning to manufacturing, logistics, and operations. 

That is exactly what BYTON has done. In fact, by deploying an advanced digital core right out of the gate, the smart-car firm has ensured that every aspect of its enterprise – including its supply chain – is just as intelligent as its cars. 

Learn more about BYTON’s story at https://www.sap.com/documents/2019/06/8657ed49-547d-0010-87a3-c30de2ffd8ff.html

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