Finding resilience in automation supply chains

We often take supply chains for granted, but the recent pandemic has highlighted the need for greater resilience. The supply chain is an integral part of business and not for dismissal as someone else’s problem.

In recent years, with efficiency as a constant driver, markets have been experiencing a transformation defined by four key trends. They are digitisation, sustainability, customisation, and regionalisation. Today, resilience is at the top of everyone’s agenda – but what does it mean for supply chains?

Supply Chain models

Supply chains must adapt to different customer types. Customisation is the new normal: tailored requests, speed, and local engagement are necessary. Schneider Electric has developed five supply chain models to reflect the expectations of its different customer segments, including integrators, electrical distributors, and end-users.

Digitisation provides the answer to building a customer-centric supply chain. Unless operating processes interconnect, systems and tools cannot support the needs of customers or the business.

The connection allows the control, monitoring, and optimisation of every part of the process. It creates the desired end-to-end view for visualisation at key points around the world. Moreover, it provides on-site, real-time knowledge-driven by data analytics. Connectivity allows businesses to make more sense, predict demand with customers, and address their needs more efficiently. Together, connectivity and artificial intelligence can eliminate downtime by running regular tests to improve performance.

Through digital connections suppliers and customers can integrate into an “extended supply chain” encouraging transparency and traceability. Digitisation also becomes a foundation for circularity by opening manufacturing to all stakeholders and changing the relationship between suppliers.

Risk of long supply chains

The risks associated with long supply chains, along with growing trade tensions and geopolitics, are causing organisations to re-evaluate. Globalisation may not disappear, but going forward, we can expect greater regionalisation.

Over the past ten years, Schneider Electric has implemented a multi-local and balanced footprint approach, complemented by tight global coordination. Local operations can understand better, adapt quicker, reverse logistics, and repair locally. This is not a shift from globalisation, but a new form with global players connected in shorter chains.

There is no doubt that Covid was a supply chain crisis caused by lockdowns, borders closing, and country-by-country specifics. It highlights the need for resilience, and those who embrace it quickly will set themselves up for success.

Basically, we need digitisation across every aspect of the chain. Automation also supports event response and day-to-day operational management, predicting and mitigating risks to customer demand and shaping scenarios to deliver optimal efficiency and agility. The good news is the technology to build resilient, agile, and collaborative supply chains already exists.

Starting with the Alliance Partner Program for Industrial Automation Distributors, Schneider Electric empowers companies to develop their supply chain capabilities to better address the digital transformation needs of customers and the ability to strengthen business resilience.

As part of the rigorous certification process and program tiers for Alliance Industrial Automation Distributors (IAD), customers can select the right IAD with the segment specialisation and business-know how to support them from the simplest machine to the most complex process system projects. BPX is the first Master IAD.

Master Industrial Automation Distributors

BPX has the proven industrial automation solution knowledge, experience and capabilities to help Schneider Electric customers thrive in the future. Furthermore, with the five Master level professionals in our team, we can advise on product selection, applications, programming methods and best practices. We also provide technical support, help with communications and connectivity, remote maintenance access to automation equipment and simple and complex motion control.

AT BPX we provide an extensive portfolio of Schneider Electric and renowned industry products to support customer supply chains.  We service individual customers’ part requirements to large critical stock agreements on and off-site. On-going project support, as well as fully integrated solutions, offer the adaptability and efficiency required. We are also skilled in EcoStruxure Plant & Machine architectures.