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Complex supply chains and the last mile

Globalization, market fluctuations, and complexity remain the biggest challenges facing today’s supply chain. This is nothing new, however, poor data quality for the “last mile” remains an issue. Reporting of inventory levels and historical sales data can take hours to generate, and it does not produce sufficient insights to make smart decisions. More than ever, there is now a need for greater supply chain continuity and quality that directly impacts sales and business continuity.

Supply chains have always been critical but often operated behind the scenes. The COVID-19 pandemic and ensuing disruption changed that, revealing the importance of supply chains to a much wider audience. The pandemic also accelerated the need to update and upgrade supply chains in an increasingly digital world. Supply chain and logistics issues can impact every phase of an organization and adversely impact the customer experience.

According to one piece of research, (PwC Digital Trends in Supply Chain Survey 2022) increasing efficiency and managing or reducing costs in supply chain operations by far topped the list of priorities over the next 12 to 18 months. But less than 50% of manufacturers have integrated smart devices or embedded intelligence into production and processes.

Digital supply chains and the Intelligent Enterprise

By digitalizing the supply chain, businesses can address current vulnerabilities and stay future proof. For supply chains to be more agile, they must be able to adapt and respond quickly to market fluctuations and supply chain volatility. Also, each link must be integrated into a tightly coordinated and responsive system. Productivity, responsiveness, and on time in full (OTIF) are all enhanced through digitalization.

With SAP Business Technology Platform (SAP BTP), organizations can develop and deliver digital technologies to become Intelligent Enterprises. With full transparency across supply chain networks using SAP BTP, reliability and performance can be improved. Businesses can predict and respond to changing conditions by using artificial intelligence (AI) and real-time insights from smart products and services. Operations Managers are, thereby, provided with faster feedback through real-time visibility of key performance indicators.

SAP BTP is not just another platform. It is an opportunity to integrate, extend, and build data to value at scale across supply chain operations while realizing the potential of current investments, expertise, and supplier network:

Data and analytics solutions provide tools, such as digital boardrooms, stories, dashboards, visualization, conversational analytics, and applications with embedded AI, to explore data confidently, analyze predictions, and optimize processes. For example, analytics tools can help retailers identify and solve problems with products that are being returned at an unusually high rate, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce losses.
Integration solutions connect data from applications across the IT landscape so that all design-to-operate processes can be integrated. User experience can be improved, and supply chain efficiency is increased by delivering comprehensive business processes, rerouting existing business processes, linking critical data and processes to external sources and third-party systems, and integrating across digital supply chain solutions, to effectively manage cost and financial information. Used in this way, the integration scenarios can deliver value across field services organizations with end-to-end service processes supported by SAP BTP.
Extension solutions help to overcome operational issues that require new processes, people behaviors, and workforce skills. However, not all solutions to these issues are available off the shelf, and businesses must be able to extend existing processes using reliable technologies to address unique needs. And they need a digital core to connect manufacturing, supply chain, and warehouse management. Organizations can sense and respond to changing conditions by using AI and real-time insights from smart products and services.

Use case example brought to life

SAP Integration & Integration Suites applied to SAP Digital Supply Chain (“Predictive Asset Insights: custom machine learning models”) is an Internet of Things (IoT) solution to predict maintenance and service needs. It applies the latest IoT, machine learning, and engineering simulations technologies to provide data-driven insights to condition-based maintenance and reliability-centred maintenance programs.

Challenges overcome:

• Highly unique assets/equipment which require specialized machine learning.
• Need to incorporate unsupported data types, such as image or video data can be into predictive maintenance machine learning models
• Need to replicate/reuse existing predictive models

Value-driven benefits include:

• Leverage existing machine learning investment
• Increase model accuracy with specialised/custom algorithms and models
• Leverage other predictive technologies

As shown above, innovative capabilities are enabled by SAP BTP, where leading edge models and solution templates are available for manufacturing operations worldwide. Organizations can achieve real-time monitoring of factory sensor data with customized performance dashboards. Downtime is reduced, which gives organizations a competitive advantage through increased uptime or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Benefits of an intelligent supply chain

With supply chains under more scrutiny than before, organisations are working to improve resilience, agility and continue delivering for their customers.
Innovating capabilities and customisations through SAP BTP delivers a wide range of benefits:

• Automates and streamline supply chain processes with a flexible, scalable platform
• Improves quality and customer service from product performance insight related to manufacturing
• Boosts brand loyalty by satisfying customer expectations with fast, data-driven insight and action
• Increases sales revenue by maintaining an integrated and smooth-running supply chain
• Delivers an agile, resilient, and sustainable supply chain from design to operate


Gain indisputable value from your current investments

Critical reviews of current supply chain tools sometimes result in the conclusion that invested solutions need to be replaced. However, SAP BTP allows supply chain organizations to positively review their current investments and build upon these to further their transformation journey. Every business has their own view of leading practices and where they fit. SAP BTP enables organizations to personalize the extension of their current capabilities of design to operate processes or going beyond merely “filling gaps” by placing leading practices within their grasp.

You can learn more about SAP BTP on the SAP Community.

For an overview of how SAP BTP provides solutions to support supply chain transformation, please read our SAP BTP for Supply Chain Point of View Paper.

This blog post is part of a series on SAP Business Technology Platform, covering the following topics:

Why Technology Completeness Matters to the Success of a Business Technology Platform
How a Clean ERP Core Breaks the Code of Your Data’s Secret Language
Digital Platforms Drive Innovation in HR to Deliver Trusted Employee Experiences
How a Single Platform Turns Even the Smallest Projects into Big Outcomes
Innovation in Procurement: Making All the Right Connections on a Single Platform
Helping the World Run More Sustainably with Single Platform