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Watch: What Is a Continuous Supply Chain? | 2020-09-09

Bernard Goor, senior vice president of sales with Infor, explains the concept behind the continuous supply chain, and reveals the biggest obstacles that companies face when trying to achieve that goal.

How do we define a “continuous” supply chain? The name implies one that is “uninterrupted, and in real time,” says Goor. “To deliver it, you need to be able to connect the dots between multiple nodes and tiers, and make sure they can share digital information.”

Many supply chains over the last several decades have focused on crafting point-to-point integrations, an effort that has resulted in discontinuous “islands” of information. The challenge now, says Goor, is to bring them all together under a “single version of the truth.”

It’s not a question of fixing discrete gaps within global supply chains. Their very structure is what’s hampering efforts at continuity. Buyers, sellers, distributors and carriers all have their own sets of data, upon which they fashion individual forecasts and supply plans. The friction that results from trying to harmonize those plans result in high degrees of demand and supply variability, and the inability of companies to react quickly and efficiently to unanticipated shifts in the marketplace.

The current environment, marked by pandemic and recession, makes it even more difficult to realize continuous supply chains, and respond to variability. Goor says companies need to become more proactive, able to sense events in the supply chain so they can respond in real time. “You’re not going to solve the problem by improving demand-forecasting accuracy or predictability of supply plans,” he says. “Inherently, the market has created so much variability that it becomes much harder to share the digital signal in real time.” One key, he adds, lies in winning the participation of suppliers upstream, and customers downstream.

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