Womble Carlyle Supply Chain Management Blog

Following legal issues related to supply chain management.

Monday, August 30, 2010

The Trend toward Smarter Supply Chains

Dan Gilmore’s column this month in Supply Chain Digest (which if you don’t read regularly, you should) is titled “What is a Smarter Supply Chain?”

In his article, Dan summarizes the latest renovation of the concept of intelligent supply chains. IBM has stated that, utilizing improved technology, “smart” supply chains will reflect three important components:

  • Instrumented: Supply chains will be supported by pervasive data collection networks that provide real-time visibility; pallets will “report if they wind up in the wrong place.”
  • Interconnected: We will have system-to-system integration up and down the supply chain, not only to trading partners but to machines and inventory (shop floor to top floor).
  • Intelligent: We will achieve better supply chain decision-making through advanced analytics and next generation optimization software

The growth of electronic records and data tracking has made most of us believe it is commonplace to implement automated systems. Because I can find out in seconds exactly where my package is, I want that same visibility for other important items (for example, my medical records).

While the application of technology to create smart supply chains will be a very welcome, and ultimately cost-saving, development, it does raise the bar on how companies will share information, develop the IT tools to implement these systems, and share liability when things go wrong. Intellectual property issues will become increasingly important and a key issue to be considered by any supply chain team.

- Greg Chabon