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Another look at the changes that taking place in the supply chain management.

The supply chain is at the heart of the company's operations, as such, it invests quite a bit of thinking and planning, and it is evolving and never being quiet.

In my article "Supply Chain Management and Management Methods" I wrote that

"Over time, the supply chain managers - become partners and even leaders in the company responsible crows of performance, they become the manager and supervisor of equipment and material availability.

The managing has become integrative and integrated, that is, cross-department management, management that brings transparency and thus streamlines the flow of information and materials. I have further written that "the progress is no longer an option, it is a necessity."

In order to make the best decisions, managers need information, they need access to real-time data on their supply chain, management constraints, and sometimes the old technologies can thwart this.

The flow of information and transparency, end-to-end in the supply chain, has long been necessary without managers there being unable to control the forecast and certainly not managing the activity in real time, while the changes and events that occur require engagement - lack of real-time information and transparency - making chain managers irrelevant. Who are chasing and not producing the products, thus controlling the results, however, these days may soon be behind us.

Behind us, because the new digital technologies have the potential to take over the supply chain management completely, this can certainly, and even disrupt, the traditional ways of working, the ones we were used to.

The new information tools and systems can already serve as a tool for self-regulation and smoothly and optimally manage end-to-end workflows of materials and money, and this requires very little human intervention, which mediates the human factor but especially the middle tier managers, which allows direct transfer of decisions from senior management – directly to the operation level, from analysis of technical information collected and scientifically produced, such as sensors, cameras, actions, cause and effect techniques, information derived from data analysis and determined by methods and standards - to execution instructions.

With the existing digital information data base, organizations can easily collect, analyze, integrate, and interpret high-quality data in real-time - data fed by automation processes, predictive analytics products like information from sophisticated distribution systems, artificial intelligence and robotics, and in general - analytics products Information - Technology seems to soon take over supply chain management.

We are already witnessing the many uses that are actually being carried out, at present, especially in places where labor-intensive processes are being performed, particularly in such a repetitive and frequent manner or as required to handle a very large mass of variable data.

The automation processes that redundant paper use and encouraged the transition to digitalization, along with the widespread use of robots and artificial intelligence in general, all those that have for some time now become the middle tier managers who concentrate and analyze data and operate accordingly, and not only that, automation processes have also changed the way supply chains are managed, such that, the decision-making process must be re-engineered, by streamlining it, by moving to even leaner, more accurate management.

From where it is managed by middle tier managers - to employees who execute analyst and managerial decisions, decisions that are actually the product of data produced and subject to dynamic standards and rules.

By doing so - organizations improve data analysis, predictability, and thus can reduce or better manage volatility, will fulfill faster customers' needs and can definitely increase the value of the product or service provided and at the best cost.

Not only that, sensors, that provides data about parts that are in machines, assemblies, and the whole – sends information about their condition in the machine they are in, is already helping to better estimate when they will break or be replaced, so that they can be scheduled (even then directly and indirectly). Replacing them in a way that minimizes downtime, for example - a sensor installed in the part of the aircraft - reports to the destination control center that it is required to replace him - not only saves lives but indicates the potential to make changes in all manufacturing processes and reduce costs - not to mention risk management, everything, in such a way that the exchange direction comes from the data center directly to the promoter as a work order, again - without middle-level involvement, running consumption forecasting models - can generate purchase orders, ones that will be placed directly with the deciding factor.

Supply chain communities (see "Community" in this context[1]) begin to collaborate and create more resilient supply chains in a way that truly revolutionizes[2] (information that flows from the supermarket cashier directly to product suppliers and creates a requirement, which automatically passes to raw material suppliers and subcontractors, both in production and transport, creates a work order and drives the delivery until the product is received in the requesting office in the day after, a demand that arises as a result of a product purchase by a customer on a sales site - directly to the warehouses and directly to the shipper to the point of coordination - also digital - to the customer ordering minutes after the order is completed) Smart "improves productivity and Profit margins in which it manifests itself in various applications, but especially for us - retail warehouses and logistics centers.


Amazon is exploring the option to deliver parcels by drones, self-driving vehicles are here already, my private vehicle suddenly surprised and preceded me and automatically brake for a split second before an accident - it was clearly made by artificial intelligence, decision and execution, We have already seen how in the Second Lebanon War, commanders behind screens receive information from drones and satellites and make decisions in a short and precise process, iron dome systems that automatically launch threat-canceling missiles - do everything and fast enough to analyze and make the right decision, transmit the missile at a speed that eliminates the threat in its (short) way.


Robots operate today at logistics centers all over the world, stopping only when maintenance is needed (Even then, they are the ones to report it) and all by controlling artificial intelligence and a computerized control center, which sees everything, analytical cameras provide information to security centers and reduce the need to bounce for every warning, in short, the technology is here and we talk about the applications and the effects of its penetration into the decision-making tier, in our case - the organization can manage the entire supply chain from the control room - while improving safety, ignoring irrelevant interruptions and reducing the need for both employees and especially middle tier managers.


In fact, what is needed to implement this - is a number of things, we will get the gist of it and understand that in an enterprise ERP system and the data base is good, and that it is properly broadcast and collected - systems must be built to collect and manage information as needed, to establish a "control and supervision center" - staffed With analysts, such as the collection of digital and virtual visual information, it displays on high, three-dimensional and multi-layered screens, such that collects and analyzes real-time information, from every stage of the supply chain, from order to delivery, from all - end to end, Clockwise and provides informed decisions based on data analysis results and forecasts, monitoring everything Including visual alerts on inventory shortages or the likelihood bottlenecks or logjam before they occur, making simulations that identify potential problems before they become real problems, decision making and passing them to teams that are at the forefront of action to be able to correct and / or prevent problems.


Real-time data, unquestionable accuracy, uninterrupted customer focus, process excellence, and analytical leadership that underpins the operations of these control centers, of course, such centers can and should be shared community centers from a number of partners, today, control rooms such these are exist mainly in the large logistics centers, but are mainly concentrated in warehouse management activities and less involved in the supply chain, I know of quite a few organizations and even manufacturers that adopt the approach, through their control rooms and supervision, and through the installation of smart systems and advanced technology integration, the concept and concept through the implementation that comes from installing smart systems and as a result.


Well, if you look at the repercussions, then the trend becomes clearer, technology is replacing executives and people in the supply chain management and changing the old tradition usual structure and ... doing a better job.


It's not hard to imagine a future where automated processes, data management, advanced analytics, sensors, robotics, artificial intelligence and a constant learning loop sys - will minimize the need for humans, but when design, acquisition, production, order fulfillment and logistics are mostly automated, the question naturally arises – what will it actually be left to the supply chain managers?


In the short term, it is required that middle tier managers in the supply chain need to start making changes and refocus their management in designing and managing the flow of information and materials, they need to know more, much more, and especially in the manner and methods of control and use of information, applications and how to use them, rather than managing employees who primarily perform tasks that repeat themselves and employees who perform basic operations over and over again, learn the benefits of using information that is received rather than trying to influence it and way it is received.


It seems that in the near future, more and more supply chain analysts will be required, those who can build, validate and analyze datasets, use digital tools and algorithms and effectively predict demand, consumption, malfunctions, etc .. More than middle tier managers in traditional management, will require tools, methods And with more and more tailored metrics coming to reality, analysts with logistics backgrounds appear to be providing a more appropriate response.


Looking further, the need for experts to design a technology-driven supply chain that utilizes and unites capabilities, tools, and information, and substantively supports the ever-evolving strategy of change - both the requirements and priorities of the organization's ever-changing needs, is sometimes felt More urgent than its predecessor, which also needs to be fulfilled, and an organization that fails to predict it ahead of time or fail to do so - will lose strength and lose control over the results.


The organization that aspires to remain at the forefront, not to say - to survive - to recruit experts or train such and place them at the intersection of operations and technology, the skills needed for these positions are scarce today and currently the biggest challenge for these organizations - will be to create a vision for the future supply chain - and strategy for fulfilling those roles. 

Critically, managers today are increasingly required to master a number of practical skills besides management skills. 

It is clear to me today more than ever that the way the traditional supply chain management is disappearing, its place is taking on different, direct, indirect and more precise management approaches, those who suffer the most will be the middle tier executives, especially those who came to their jobs without the required skills, to work on updating their skills, theirs and the organizations that employ them must prepare for the change that already is taking place. 

Shaya Kalif

[1] The idea of communities appears to me quite a while ago. "A collaborative community that allows every link in the supply chain (supplier / manufacturer / customer) to see beyond its on information, from here information sharing between the various links in the chain is obtained, the sharing allows a faster and more efficient response to what is happening in the market (with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers). All of the participant can improve the accuracy of their forecasts, including sales, production planning, marketing and sales promotion planning, and more. "   

[2] The professional literature is increasingly talking about unifying systems and collaborations to shorten times and stages, synchronizing between service providers in the same chain and the same circuits.


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