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Supply Chain Automation May Be Key to Efficiency
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The human factor continues to limit certain supply chain efficiencies, and a recent study shows manufacturers plan to automate systems for speed and security.

Recently, Edge Research for Sterling Commerce, an IBM Company, surveyed the business concerns of 300 manufacturing and logistics executives in supply chain, IT and sales positions. The results show that 40 percent of them plan to implement supply chain synchronization solutions to build a seamless customer experience from order to fulfillment.

The survey results are an indication that manufacturers are looking for alternatives to disjointed supply chain systems that require human monitoring and intervention. For example, the redundant data entry involved in order taking and purchasing consumes time and resources, while introducing countless opportunities for introducing error that can have major impact down the road. Although inflexible systems cause their own sets of problems, these manufacturers see benefits in synchronizing and automating systems throughout the supply chain.

Half of respondents still use manual processes for monitoring changes, exceptions and disruptions to planned activity in collaborating with customers and suppliers. Eighty percent of them expect managing volatile accelerating or decelerating demand to be a priority in 2011.

The survey found that executives also believe several manual process inefficiencies could be eased by automation, including:

  • Meeting the expectations of customers who increasingly want to see order and shipment status. Only 24 percent of those surveyed had automated processes to allow that transparency.
  • Quickly providing supply chain managers with their key clients' customers' information about inventory and demand. Eighteen percent had automated systems to manage that data.
  • Increasing the visibility of their order and shipment status when collaborating with suppliers. That visibility is only available as a highly automated process for 24 percent of respondents. Less than 15 percent used highly automated processes in other areas of collaboration.
  • Protecting sensitive data and intellectual property during transfers and ensuring compliance with changing customer and regulatory mandates. Many manufacturers (31 percent) plan to invest in secure network solutions to meet that goal.

For more details, you can view the full survey at:


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