Supply Chain Planning Foundational Data

About the Author
Scott Moon
Scott Moon

Over the past decade, businesses have accumulated a sea of data on their operations, customers, and business practices. Businesses have attempted to consume this data to drive effective business solutions with limited success. We are at the precipice where solutions seamlessly consume traditional data and merge it with unstructured data to cohesively drive business planning and execution.

I predict over the next five years that information will finally be holistically consumed to drive business decision making and operational effectiveness. Companies will unleash the power of social media expanding its traditional use in marketing goods and services to better gauge customer preferences. The era where businesses relied on the consumption of internal performance as the primary modeling framework is over.

Traditional retail continues to experience brick and mortar store closures, as it copes with the pressures being placed on them by new-tail. The new go to market approaches provides flexible, cost effective offerings that leverage historic retailer’s infrastructure as their foundation. Competing in the future will require instant insight from the dynamic marketplace rather than from one’s own business’s performance to sense the market and respond to customer demands.

Competing in tomorrow’s market will require data to integrate more effectively with planning tools.

Evolution of Unstructured Data

Twitter (288 million users) Facebook (1.23 billion users) provides valuable and candid insight that is unstructured into customer preferences and product shortcomings. Unleashing the power of this information will help businesses better position their offering and their business image. With over 70% of Fortune 500 companies relying on social media for their marketing strategy, they will expand its use to drive supply chain initiatives.

With the competitiveness of eCommerce (over $2.3 trillion globally), understanding the underlying market direction helps you drive operational responses, instead of waiting before responding.

Topside Business Planning Tools

The development of integrated information platforms will lead to increased asset solutions that will leverage the current infrastructure availabilities as a service. This will require businesses to model their requirements using newly developed topside planning tools, requiring minimal set-up that in turn provides sound business direction and guidance. 

The retail industry alone invests over $3.2 trillion in inventory annually and realizes a staggering $45B (1.44%) in annual shrink. With no signs of this trend changing, reducing inventory by 1% equates to over $30B in additional working capital that can be used to invest in operational evolution.

Autonomous Operations

Integrated information will enable the evolution of autonomous robots and vehicles to execute operational needs with limited human intervention. This will come in the form of autonomous trucks (which will take a general market acceptance) as well as flexible distribution robots that will enable scaling/compression based on business needs. Businesses will invest less in fixed infrastructure and more in flexible infrastructure that shares/scales as needed to support the business.

t-Sort is an innovative material handling system and has applications for both unit and parcel sortation. Anheuser-Busch is testing driverless vehicles to deliver their products. Tangible solutions are beginning to be presented on the market that makes this a reality.

The solutions built to date will provide the foundational roadmap for the developments of the future. They will, however, become more tightly integrated and the data shared will integrate legacy internal focused information with unstructured external garnered data, helping surviving players compete in a margin lean marketplace. Customer expectations of cost and service will get tougher requiring providers to be efficient in their decision making and their execution.

More Resources

In response to COVID-19 and limiting travel, Tompkins Robotics is now offering interactive virtual tours using a variety of stationary and roaming cameras throughout the facility.  We have the capability to demonstrate five t-Sort systems with various configurations, robots and functionalities.  The main demonstration system includes three different induction types: manual, robotic and A-frame.  Our systems are capable of e-commerce order fulfillment, store replenishment, backroom and parcel / postal sortation.  We can demonstrate the original t-Sort robotic system in multiple dual level configurations and an elevator system to move robots between the levels.  Our larger t-Sort Plus robots run on single level systems with both tilt tray and crossbelt options.  In the very near future we will demonstrate the new t-Sort Mini in an additional system. We have a wide variety of inventory to demonstrate products including general merchandise, apparel, grocery, fragile goods, odd sizes and shapes and a wide range of product weights.  You will also have a chance to learn about the technologies that are integrated into our system such as automated induction, automated charging, integrated weight and dimension capture, our proprietary wireless network and Warehouse Execution System (WES), new innovations such as our automated sorter exit solution and more.  And if mobility and flexibility are important to you, we can demonstrate how easy it is to reconfigure a system, remove or add a sort table, and even fold a table into a smaller footprint for move or transport.