- end-to-end visibility into the supply chain
- elimination of manual update work
- streamlined order and shipment tracking
- pro-active contingency planning based on limbiq alerts
Difficulties Identifying and Reacting To Risks in the Supply Chain
One of the largest chemical companies in Europe has a complex supply chain from Asia to Europe, which uses all modes of transport (MOT). However, this supply chain was not entirely digital. Using existing ERP systems, the company issued purchase orders (POs) with many line items and sent them via email to their suppliers. The suppliers then shipped the orders via all modes of transport, distributed over several containers, vessels, and cargos. The partners sent updates for these shipments as PDFs, emails, or spreadsheets.
For the global supply chain management (SCM) team, tracking these shipments became increasingly difficult. Manual data reconciliation of estimated time of arrival (ETA) updates as well as tracking took up a lot of time. It also resulted in more supply chain risks, as it was hard to catch issues arising and react on time or install a contingency plan.
Although the follow-on processes were launched from the SAP ERP system, there was a media break, and employees updated the SAP system manually.
As the company is on a growth trajectory, the number of orders and shipments will increase, and the situation became untenable. This situation resulted in higher internal workload across all teams, higher costs due to emergency measures like express transports, and more ad-hoc work in the sales department to work out solutions with customers.
Establishing End-To-End Shipment Tracking on SKU Level
The challenges were addressed in three steps:
The company implemented limbiq as a central digital platform to track orders and shipments, aiming to eliminate updates via documents and provide visibility into the supply chain.
To achieve this, the company uses the platform's interface to upload orders, including SKUs, into limbiq. This allows to link shipments on a SKU-level to the corresponding order, enabling real-time tracking of every SKU across the supply chain within a single platform.
SKUs are now associated with all other objects, such as orders, shipments, and cargo, across all modes of transport. Teams can track them from multiple perspectives.
Once the team achieved visibility at the SKU level, they were able to switch to a proactive way of working. Manual data entry and reactive issue-catching, such as ETA changes and delays, were no longer necessary.
The routine of the supply chain manager changed as well. First, they would log onto the platform and read the alerts. limbiq provided all changes made by the suppliers, while integrations with carriers and vessels provided others.
Rather than reading through all updates, the platform highlights all changes immediately. This allows the team to easily react to the most important updates and use the in-line communication features to clarify items with internal or external stakeholders.
Establish End-To-End Processes
Today, the company has implemented an end-to-end process that begins with an order in the ERP system. The order is then loaded onto the limbiq platform where information from external supply chain partners is mapped to it. This provides a complete picture that was not available in the ERP system.
Regular updates are loaded into limbiq, providing the latest information to all stakeholders. The data is then posted back into the SAP system, triggering downstream processes such as production planning, shipping, and invoice reconciliation.
Managing Supply Chain Risk Proactively
With the help of limbiq, the supply chain management practices at the company have been transformed. They have gone from a reactive to a proactive approach to managing changes in the supply chain. The established visibility into all shipments, over all modes of transportation (MOTs) on SKU-level, allows them to react immediately to changes in estimated time of arrivals (ETAs).
limbiq has also reduced the time it takes to receive, enter, and analyze monthly ETA data. What used to take hours to analyze and enter into the ERP system can now be done in minutes. In summary, limbiq has enabled a small team to achieve a significant transformation in how they reduce supply chain risk.