The Post-COVID Supply Chain: Achieving Both Agility and Performance via AI

October 2, 2020

The Post-COVID Supply Chain: Achieving Both Agility and Performance via AI 

Introduction

Enormous inefficiencies in global supply chains can be prevented with breakthrough AI capabilities from Conexus. Many enterprises in our current global crisis are discovering that their supply chains aren’t nearly as agile as they appeared. Statistics from a leading ‘product sourcing and discovery’ company indicate that initiating a new buyer-supplier relationship requires six months and 128 distinct tasks. Most of these tasks exchange or integrate data.

Department of Commerce research explains this waste and friction: the supplier and buyer likely have their catalog data on different platforms and data organizations, leading to “significant cost inefficiencies for suppliers who interface to multiple portals to support multiple industries.” Establishing relationships is, by necessity, a largely manual and telephone based process. The same Department of Commerce report projects that automating a solution for a single supplier using existing technology would require over 200 million by-hand mappings between concepts of the supplier and buyers.

How can suppliers and buyers share the necessary data quickly and easily—without divulging more than they need to?

Conexus’ CQL platform automates this process in unprecedented ways, using AI to identify potential errors and misunderstandings in advance. When integrated with existing data feeds, data stores, and processing capabilities, Conexus CQL provides suppliers and buyers clear data at every stage in supplier onboarding. The Dept of Commerce was an original sponsor of Conexus CQL, as Conexus CQL is the only known solution to this problem. Conexus enables searching for specific suppliers by capability and capacity with better, ontology-based query techniques. Evaluating supplier performance expectations and benchmarks from conformance information speeds negotiations and order processing.

 

The healthcare supply chain shows the power of Conexus CQL

 

The Challenge

Our current news comes with stories where the simplest materials – small medical bottles to hold swabbed samples – are missing. Changing from East Asian suppliers to North American suppliers is now critical, and expedient, for many participants in the health care and industrial bases. The challenge for many enterprises is to execute processes to identify and bring onboard new suppliers to meet new demands for products in a timely way.

For large North American based healthcare consumers, identifying a supplier in a global market can be difficult with different languages, capabilities, and even nomenclature. Identifying a supplier in a North American market can be difficult because flexible manufacturing and additive manufacturing techniques change capabilities.

 

Getting the Data You Need—Quickly and Accurately

Viewed as a data-driven process, the paperwork and other exchanges to onboard a supplier are easily described—but hard to perform. Conexus works to speed up identifying and onboarding a new supplier by focusing on this data-driven process.
Identifying suppliers is about having the data to understand capabilities, capacity, competence, and conformance. Identifying a supplier of bottles requires finding a North American plastics processor that could produce small bottles even if they aren’t yet.

Conexus CQL can connect the data held by the North American consumer to match potential suppliers. Once these data needs are met, the acquisition process can move to onboarding the supplier.

In this example, data from the supplier needs to be coded into the supply chain software for types of products – including small bottles – that the supplier could produce: batch volumes for economic order quantities, lead times, pricing tiers, and volumes per month. Quality requirements (including defect rates, lot tracking, and delivery performance) must also be captured in data, as well as conformance with ISO, FDA GMP, and other standards.

These data transcriptions and transformations are terribly difficult to automate. Conexus CQL functionality ensures that the data is present and ready to go without further cleaning or preparation.

 

The Challenge—and Solution—at Scale

When high volumes – tens of millions of bottles are required in a short term – the process of supplier onboarding happens again and again. Across many products, many suppliers, and many possible means of performing the same function (would the right kind of plastic bag work instead of a bottle?) the data complexity increases.

By automating the matching of data elements from external data sources to the buyer’s local databases, Conexus allows the buyer to identify new sources quickly: all they need to do is search their own database. The qualification process to query/quote, negotiate terms, and initiate a production order becomes much faster.

Conexus reduces risk (creating easy access to compliance data), enables agility (via capacity to shift suppliers for North America), efficiency (low friction in acquisition paperwork), and compliance (reduced unknowns late in a supply process).

 

Summary

By allowing supplier data to be queried using terminology from one’s own catalog, Conexus CQL enables searches and data processes that are not feasible with existing software suites. Conexus CQL allows you to reason using your own terms, for example to determine the capability of a large bottle supplier to potentially supply small bottles that you know will work for you. Conexus gives you confidence in the likely availability, production lead times, and quality performance that will get you the tens of millions of small bottles you need when you need them. Thus, Conexus CQL allows you to settle—rapidly and confidently—on the supplier that is quickest, cheapest, and most reliable.

 

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