A supply chain is a network that starts with raw materials and generally ends with the customer. Streamlining all the supply chain data created by those integrated elements means managing multiple complex factors all at once, in real time: optimizing inventory, streamlining transportation, and delivering just in time… every time.

Just like other areas of the manufacturing ecosystem, such as production, having real-time visibility and a single source of data truth is critical when it comes to supply chain data and inventory management. Furthermore, these insights need to be quickly and easily accessible to everyone in the business, not just IT.

As supply chains get more complicated and generate more data, manufacturers need a powerful, secure, and flexible end-to-end analytics platform.

Tableau is a visual analytics platform that is driven by the mission to help people see and understand data —whether they’re an analyst, data scientist, executive, or business user. With Tableau, a Salesforce company, you can transform how you use your data with the capability to bring everything together in a visual environment that’s accessible to anyone, yet supports advanced modeling and forecasting for Enterprise needs.

Manufacturers: Moving from Complexity to Clarity
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Large manufacturing organizations like Honeywell, GE Aviation and PepsiCo are all using Tableau to analyze their supply chain. These companies are seeing real value with Tableau through reduction in report production time, faster and easier information sharing, and even event prediction.

In this article, we will discuss the benefits of supply chain data visibility and explore how to optimize inventory with the help of a tool like Tableau.

Supply chain management and optimizing inventory

The key ingredient for optimizing a supply chain is reliable data that you can trust. Accurate information about everything from orders to inventories means knowing where your stock is at all times—even if it’s across several warehouses or in transit between two countries. And with every detail accounted for, planning becomes easier too, which translates into lower costs and increased productivity throughout the entire process. In today’s world of global commerce, suppliers are often on other continents—which makes things even more complicated when something goes wrong (e.g., an earthquake).

A Manufacturing factory flow chart showing some of the potential sources of supply chain data - image courtesy of APS.

When managing inventory effectively, a manufacturer never has to worry about running out of stock or dealing with too much inventory. With a more accurate view of what’s on hand, you can plan around the supply needs for your business and know if it’s time to order some more—even before customers start complaining.

Then with streamlined information, manufacturers are able to react quickly when things go wrong in real time. It is imperative that manufacturers are constantly streaming information from their different warehouses and production locations via automated data collection solutions like RFID (radio frequency identification) tags or other linked data sources. This way they have an up-to-date picture of everything coming into the company as well as leaving its doors – all without requiring employees at every location manually inputting new data points each day.”

With supply chain data, don’t forget logistics

Supply chain logistics are always changing. This is why it’s important to have the data you need, when you need it – and not hours or days too late. One of the most important pieces of information is inventory management: knowing how much product you should be carrying at any given time, for every customer location in your network.

Inventory dashboards can show both physical out-of-stocks (products that are missing) as well as logical out-of-stocks (products where there’s no room left on a truck).

There are two types of supply chains: manufacturing and distribution. Manufacturing supply chains make products from raw materials or contributed parts before distributing them to customers through wholesalers or retailers. Distribution supply chains on the other hand transport goods from the manufacturer to either wholesale or retail customers.

Manufacturing Supply Chains are focused on optimizing production and supply chain processes in order to reduce costs by increasing efficiency, productivity, delivery speed of inventory, etc.; Distribution Supply Chains focus primarily on transportation logistics such as shipping routes and carriers.

At first glance, it may seem like these two types of supply chains have nothing in common with each other; but they do share a few key factors. One is demand prediction: understanding what products will be popular before you produce them so that your manufacturing team can scale up accordingly – this saves money which would otherwise go into excess product sitting idle at warehouses. The second is accurate data visibility—data transparency between stakeholders ensures everyone knows where their inventory is at all times.

The advantages of data transparency are endless; one way it helps manufacturers is by allowing them to see when their suppliers are running low on a particular type of product so they can increase orders before there’s an emergency stock shortage for customers who need it most—such as during seasonal spikes or weather emergencies like hurricanes or blizzards. Data visibility also enables distributors to monitor delivery processes more efficiently because they know where products currently are within the system – no more guesswork!

Nissan accelerates towards global data clarity with Tableau

So how does a company like Nissan benefit from a system like Tableau when it comes to the production of automotive?

Nissan is a technology company that moves people through its automotive products and services. Facing market and business changes, the company strategically uses Tableau and data to improve its product offerings, drive digital outcomes, recalibrate business processes, and reimagine employee and customer engagement.

Danielle Beringer, Regional Data Officer, North America at Nissan says the company was overwhelmed by data abundance from “seas of spreadsheets”.

But with Tableau and Tableau Blueprint, a step-by-step data culture guide that validated their approach to enterprise change, Nissan now visualizes global data and a brighter future.

Trying to stay relevant with customers and use data more strategically wasn’t easy; legacy actions and staff behaviors were challenged. In fact, Nissan reimagined data-related roles and implemented a staff support model that emphasized data management. This prompted data advocacy from leadership, greater collaboration, and helped everyone speak the same data language.

There is now enterprise Tableau adoption from headquarters into the supply chain, at every nationwide Nissan or Infiniti dealership, and affiliate locations. Visual analytics shared worldwide track sales effectiveness, production, optimal vehicle delivery, online customer interactions, and more. This has rooted operations in data, helped Nissan thrive, meet demand, and developed “global unity on data context and synergy that never existed,” concludes Danielle.

More than ever, the manufacturing industry must corral and understand massive amounts of data from many systems to drive operational efficiencies, higher levels of service, and support. Having the ability to explore the impact and interplay across production efficiency, product quality, customer demand, and service excellence simply isn’t possible without big data and meaningful analytics.

Source: Unlock the potential of your manufacturing supply chain data

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