The Weakest Link in the Supply Chain

Michael Vizard

The problem with most supply chain systems is that process that the company actually uses is never quite the same as the one modeled in the system.

This is because the supply chain system is usually a hierarchical representation of a best set of practices as defined by a software vendor. In reality, a company has all kinds of custom processes that take place in the quality-assurance process, shipping and receiving, and distribution. These processes can be as varied as there are warehouses, so it makes tracking what is specifically happening at all these different end points in the supply chain a tad complex.

And just to make things more interesting, we have everything from paper, to bar codes to RFID tags being used to collect data that ideally should be fed in real time to the supply chain system.

What's needed is a more flexible approach towards integrating all these diverse "first miles" of the supply chain back into the existing supply chain system. That's precisely what a company called Acsis claims to have accomplished with an eXtended platform for Device and Data Integration (xDDI) that can be customized to keep track of any process at the front end of the supply chain. That data, which is typically more accurate, can be then passed back to any supply chain application.



What makes Acsis interesting is that it represents an approach to bridging the gap between existing inflexible enterprise applications and the need to automate business processes that are not only diverse, but also subject to rapid change.

Going forward, it's become clear that were about to deploy sensors in one form or another to track every business process out there. But how we effectively gather that data and feed it back into our existing systems is going to have to be more though, because the processes we are now trying to monitor often have more exceptions than rules.

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