By Jordan Griffiths
The pandemic has had a devastating impact on international supply chains, with Australia being no less immune. It has exposed a concerning level of reliance on international suppliers across several industries, including those in which we have the resources and capacity to take on production and manufacturing ourselves. As a result, a spotlight has been put on our local manufacturing capability, with government and industry increasingly directing their focus towards enhancing Australian supply chains – and making them resilient, smart and circular.
Firstly, to be resilient, we need to competitively bolster our local manufacturing capabilities across our key growth industries. The supply chain ecosystem needs to be enabled and optimised by an innovative mindset and willingness to grow – from leveraging new startup capabilities through to transforming existing manufacturing capabilities. The supply chain is the lifeline of the business, and now all eyes are on local leaders to transform it.
Australia is a smart nation and we have a ripe opportunity to establish a future-ready supply chain industry, by utilising the latest technology that drives a combination of human+machine, innovation and new ways of working propelled by a data-driven operating model. There are a multitude of examples of great Australian ingenuity and innovation that can be nurtured and scaled, such as Australia’s recent push into clean hydrogen manufacturing, explorations on new green steel manufacturing and our expanding cloud-based software and platform business start-ups. However, many supply chain functions are still constrained.
Australia also needs to be much more proactive in developing a circular economy and investing in practices that reduce waste and maximise recycling across the value chain. This is easier said than done, but we need to start by transforming the supply chain to better leverage the natural Australian resources of sunshine, minerals, land, clean air and clean water in a circular and sustainable way.
When assessing the operational efficiency of their supply chains, leaders must consider the organisation’s ability to scale eight characteristics – business-technology collaboration, agile workforce, data, analytics, leading practices, automation, stakeholder experiences and artificial intelligence (AI). While many Australian supply chain organisations are widely using all eight characteristics today, it is getting to scale that is the challenge.
Supply chains are being inhibited by aging legacy technology coupled with underinvestment in digital and a lack of data-driven insight. Data and analytics can unlock immense potential and advancement opportunities for Australian supply chains as they can predict and monitor every action along the supply chain and reinvent how organisation’s source, plan, manufacture, distribute and recycle products. So how do we overcome the obstacles?
Here are some recommendations for Australian supply chain organisations to move past these challenges and pursue future-ready operations:
- Eliminate siloes: Supply chain functions can no longer work in siloes – it is a huge liability. Every area of the supply chain needs to be viewed as part of a whole dedicated to providing value to all stakeholders – the business, partners, customers, and society. Having an integrated supply chain strategy enables better planning, risk mitigation, communication, coherence, and flexibility across the full supply chain during disruptions.
- Automate at scale: Automating manual tasks in areas like demand planning, logistics and aftersales services can enhance efficiency and enable the workforce to focus on more valuable activities such as product design and strategy. Supply chain workers are realising the benefits of automation, with 38 per cent of supply chain leaders globally saying that their organisation’s non-technical workforce is ready to leverage the technology tools they are given.
- Commit to making insight-driven decisions: Powerful data and analytics technologies can enable organisations to access data on every supply chain transaction—from where the raw materials were sourced to when an order lands on a customer’s doorstep. The right investments in AI and digital twin technology can provide supply chain leaders with real-time insights and intelligence to help them make more informed decisions across the supply chain—from design through service. For example, imagine the possibilities of AI-driven “order-less ordering” that predicts when materials or products will need replenishing and automatically sends them to customers.
The supply chain is the lifeline of every organisation and has the potential to be a key driver of Australia’s economic recovery. Supply chain leaders have been pushed into uncharted territory by the pandemic, but with a silver lining – the opportunity to develop a local industry with relevant, resilient and responsible supply chains driven by more sophisticated technology, talent and data insights than ever before.
Jordan Griffiths is Operations Lead at Accenture ANZ.
Subscribe to our free @AuManufacturing newsletter here.