See the Dynamic Links in Your Supply Chain, Together

January 17, 2019 Ed Rusch

Traceability, Sustainability, and Productivity in Construction.

Construction is among the least digitized in a ranking of industries by McKinsey & Company, coming in at number 21 out of 22. In the age of Amazon experiences, we can do better. And many companies and their trading partners are committed to doing just that. They are embracing digital disruption to evolve their capabilities forward.

In the construction industry, where supply chains are extensive and complex, communication and the ability to make quick, informed decisions at the jobsite is key.

Supply chains involve a network of resources scattered across facilities, entities and projects, not just within the four walls of one company. For them to be managed properly, supply chain resources need to be linked to each other; they need to be able to communicate with one another to achieve maximum benefit. One of the ways for supply chains to be successful is for them to be transparent. Visibility lets you see orders and material movements from source to destination, informing stakeholders on things like schedule and quality along the way; in real-time. With clear visibility, trading partners respond more quickly to unexpected situations, manage by exception, ensure quality, and more.

84% of executives say the lack of visibility remains their biggest supply chain challenge. ​

Despite the importance of transparency, 84% of executives say the lack of visibility remains their biggest supply chain challenge. The desire to move the industry forward is there, but the emotional attachment to the old ways of doing things is strong. The old ways of working offer comfort. However, they are no longer aligned with the new rules for success, which are centered around the ability to make smarter decisions faster and on delivering an enhanced customer experience profitably.

Simply put – we are stuck. Check out “Construction is Lagging in Digitization – LET’S GET UNSTUCK” for more on this.

Let’s look at the food sector for some inspiration, where there is growing transparency into the seafood we consume. The industry is connecting the fish harvester to the consumer by tracing the seafood’s journey from the ocean right to your plate.

This process begins with applying a unique identifier via tag or RFID to the catch, uploading that information to the cloud, and amending it with shipment information. Once it reaches its destination, the fish story can be presented, giving the consumer a real connection to the harvester. This type of traceability also presents another tool in the fight against illegal and unsustainable fishing. Success requires multiple entities, connected technologies, and an active community of people.

Leaders in construction share many of these same ambitions. Next-gen digital supply chain management solutions are integrating Contractors, Material Suppliers, Haulers, Inspectors, and Owners; and equipping them with the power to limit the number of financial, business, and operational risks they must undertake all the while keeping jobs on track. When everyone is working together, operational transparency and efficiencies drive results to new levels.

Much like growing ability to track and trace the journey of a grilled halibut to a dinner plate, track and trace solutions are available for critical path materials like concrete and aggregates; from source to production to fulfillment, and all the way through to delivery and placement at the jobsite.

Imagine a rolling lab where IoT devices, telematics, and real-time material science measurement technologies work together to provide the assurance that the concrete used for a bridge support or a parking deck fully meets every quality requirement and strength specification. With all the talk about sensor data in finished concrete, what about traceability back to in-transit material properties, production, and ultimately the raw material sources used in the placement of a load of concrete?

Let’s applaud fishing’s commitment to traceability and sustainability. Transparency into the processes and practices of everyone involved equips me to make better and more informed decisions, and together with other consumers, drives more responsible practices across an entire industry. Every day, these same types of dynamic connections are being made on a construction project. Strong links ensure better outcomes for all the stakeholders on a project and ultimately leaves a lasting impact to the communities served by an amazing industry.    

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