6 Signs Your Supply Chain Has Outgrown Basic Spreadsheets

Dec 8, 2021 8:15:00 AM / by ThinkIQ

Remember when it was cooler to drive a stick shift? We’re kind of old school and still think a manual transmission should be the only way to drive certain exotic vehicles (does Porsche even make a car with an automatic transmission?), but gone are the days where there’s any modicum of cool in operating a stick shift on a basic station wagon. Driving stick has become a lost art now a couple of decades into the 2000s, but the hassle to pop a clutch while weaving your way around a maze of gears is simply not worth the effort most of the time anymore.

The same too applies to supply chain management.

Here are six signs that relying on basic spreadsheets — the “driving stick” of supply chain management — is no longer in your operation’s best interest.

  1. Too much manual upkeep
    Like manually operating a clutch and navigating a gear shift pattern (how about those transmissions with Reverse in the far-upper-left position?) when a far easier solution exists in automatic transmissions (it doesn’t get much easier than D is for Drive), so too does the choice to manually keep up spreadsheets when automated solutions exist. While the guy driving a Lambo gets style points for successfully operating a shifter, no one is giving a business extra credit for attempting upkeep on multiple complex Excel sheets. 
  1. Manufacturing is complicated
    “Multiple complex Excel sheets” tells the story, doesn’t it? You’re not running a single lemonade stand here. You’re running a network of thousands of lemonade stands, lemon tree groves, juicing plants, ingredients, quality control, packaging, labeling, warehousing, transportation, and pricing spread out across the entire globe. Arrowing around cell by cell, sheet by sheet to input data is tedious, and frankly, a waste of your time. 
  1. It’s slooooooooow
    Do you have time to burn? No! You’ve got yield to maximize, waste to minimize, equipment to maintenance, demand to predict, recalls to avoid, and living breathing workers to manage. Being a wiz at constructing complex Excel formulas is impressive, but how much time will it save you when you’re dealing with oceans of data? The point of computers is that they should do all the complex computational work. Not you.
  1. Paralysis by analysis
    Once you have all of those complicated formulas formulated and data being derived from other data, that’s great. But how do you make sense of it all. Again, when you’re dealing with global operations across an entire value chain, siphoning tons of data from internet of things (IoT) sensors and a variety of systems such as ERP, MES, and MOM, the amount of new data you generate is difficult to fully digest and take proper action on. Industry 4.0 smart manufacturing improves yields, quality, safety, and compliance while recalls, waste, and downtime are dramatically minimized by using AI to identify material movements, correlations, and root causes. If your goal is to operate with agility, attempting to analyze sophisticated data manually isn’t going to cut it. You’ll be spending all your time reading instead of reacting — or better yet, being proactive.
  1. The cost of doing business
    While the notion of implementing automated systems may sound daunting and expensive, consider that smart manufacturing has accounted for a 25 percent improvement in productivity and a 50 percent reduction in the rate of defects. ThinkIQ smart manufacturing has doubled production yield, eliminated 99.999 percent of recalls, and saved more than $40 million in operational savings for major manufacturers such as General Mills, Mars, and McCain. So sure, you may end up spending less on a few Excel licenses, but the cost of relying on spreadsheets and grit will result in a net negative to your bottom line.
  2. No single source of truth
    With all those spreadsheets floating around, how do you know which one is THE master copy? Hopefully you’re not emailing copies around either, because each time a file is emailed, that’s a new version floating around your servers. And while most spreadsheets can be made into shared documents, collaboration isn’t exactly what these apps are known for. When the stakes are this high — with tens of millions of operational dollars hanging in the balance — it isn’t wise to rely on tools that aren’t specifically designed for your work and your industry.

ThinkIQ solutions lead to better, more profitable production decisions with increased “farm to fork” visibility from data created by sensors that represent the truth underlying the materials. This fact-based granular and data-centric contextualized view of material flows and related provenance attribute data provides unprecedented traceability and insight into every single way your operations can improve across the supply chain.

If you’re ready to grow past spreadsheet management and enter the world of Digital Manufacturing Transformation SaaS, get in touch with a ThinkIQ expert today and we can get you on the right path. We also have a new selection guide eBook to help you better understand the questions you should be asking. Download your copy today.


ThinkIQ Guide to Smart Manufacturing

Tags: Supply Chain Optimization, Material Ledger, Supply Chain Management


Written by ThinkIQ

Think IQ

The Industry 4.0 Data Revolution

Proven to improve manufacturing yield, safety, quality, and compliance by making sense of your data.

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