If you Google difficult recipes, Duck Pâté en Croûte pops up. It’s a time-intensive recipe that can take longer than 24 hours to prepare (“a labor of love”). To hit the mark, one must procure special ingredients, concoct a flaky homemade pastry dough, and chill it overnight at exacting temperatures. Meanwhile, on the other end of the culinary spectrum, there’s gumbo. Gumbos are a far less meticulous endeavor. Ingredients run the gamut, from chicken, duck, squirrel (yes, squirrel), shrimp, crab, and sausage, to onions, parsley, bell pepper, celery, okra, tomatoes, and really, anything you can scrounge up around the kitchen. The point we’re trying to make isn’t that one is better than the other — unless they start serving pâtés on the value menu at McDonalds, we probably won’t be indulging in one anytime soon — but certainly the more refined recipe takes far greater effort to execute. And for that extra effort, surely the upside is much higher. It’s sort of like putting together an intelligent, end-to-end supply chain: if you want the upside of total visibility and transparency, you don’t want your supply chain to be put together like gumbo.
Again, There's Nothing Wrong With Gumbo
But it does make for an apt analogy. Supply chains cobbled together through a great variety of disparate systems, silos, and vendors (all those random ingredients that make up your gumbo) are not conducive to the high-efficiency operations we associate with Industry 4.0. A collaborative smart manufacturing platform provides full visibility into the entire supply chain, end-to-end. This includes a full history of how your product was made, where the materials came from, how they were processed, and a measure of quality at every step.
To achieve this dream state, four components are critical: interconnection, information transparency, technical assistance, and decentralized decision-making.
- Interconnection breaks down the barriers of old-school processes. This is how the data flows between machines, software, and people by means of 5G, the industrial internet of things (IIoT), and other high-speed conduits.
- Information transparency is the comprehensive information you need to make critical decisions. Only when you have all the data funneled in from everywhere in the manufacturing process and throughout the entire supply chain do you achieve total transparency.
- Technical assistance is necessary because humans cannot possibly process all this data in an efficient amount of time, let alone without their heads exploding. We have computers to offload some of that difficult decision-making and problem-solving work as well as unsafe tasks. Artificial intelligence and machine learning have provided great strides in extracting insights into trends and applying process automations that remove the human element.
- Decentralized decisions empower cyber physical systems (CPS) to make decisions autonomously. This is that Jetson’s-level sophistication — think preventative maintenance to avoid supply chain disruptions or avoid them altogether, lowering costs and making for more efficient inventory management and shipping options.
Essential Growth Within Reach
To unlock these powers, trust and collaboration must achieved across the supply chain, both locally and globally. Even if you’re collecting all the data your business needs, when teams across the supply chain are siloed, that data cannot be shared. Operations are then messy with unnecessary network disruptions and inefficiencies. Visibility and transparency only happen in real-time, so until those informational exchanges can be made, you’ll never achieve end-to-end intelligence. The good news: once you make those connections, exponential growth is within reach.
The importance of achieving trust within the supply chain cannot be understated. It even has a profound effect on external trust as well. Consumers care about the quality and sustainability of the products they buy and the companies they patronize. As competition heats up to deliver on these values, businesses that choose not to prioritize this part of the equation will find themselves behind the eight ball. It will be meaningful to be able to provide scannable packaging at a grocery store that provides the item’s logistical journey from farm to store.
You probably remember how profoundly Chipotle’s business was affected by its 2015 E. coli outbreak in which more than 350 people were sickened. The burrito chain lost billions of dollars in value. And in subsequent investigations, neither Chipotle nor the FDA ever identified a particular product of interest, the offending culprit. Your business must avoid this scenario at all costs.
Material Ledger: The Path To Transparency
ThinkIQ’s material ledger offers a novel approach to intelligent end-to-end material tracking, the associated monetary value, process data, and quality data. With built-in material balance verification, manufacturing process data and product quality data in context of material/energy movements, root-cause analyses, and more, ThinkIQ delivers unprecedented material traceability and insight into ways to improve yield, quality, safety, compliance, and brand confidence. Our fact-based granular and data-centric contextualized view of material flows tracked from our material ledger, and related provenance data, integrates into existing IoT infrastructures and crosses supply chains to manufacturing processes and beyond. Our customers have saved tens of millions of dollars utilizing our best-in-class end-to-end solution that provides visibility and transparency in spades.
Talk to one of our experts today to learn more about how ThinkIQ’s transformational intelligence for manufacturers can help bring clarity to your entire supply chain. You can also start by downloading our eBook titled "Advanced Material Traceability Revolutionizes Digital Transformation"