Adapting Supply Chains: Navigating Trade Regulations and Embracing Automation

Manufacturers’ responsibilities today extend far beyond simple product production. With supply chain globalization and continued business growth evolving in the industry, it is critical that manufacturers have a comprehensive view into the entire chain to reliably track each product all the way to its final end-point. Furthermore, to ensure a competitive edge into the future, manufacturers must move beyond the scope of the supply chain as it is now, identify forthcoming trends and obstacles, and understand their roCurrently, global trade regulations require manufacturers to understand country-specific rules and regulations that include ensuring products have appropriate licenses, and paperwork filed with the appropriate governments agencies. Automated and integrated trade solutions provide a seamless method for tracking product lifecycles as products are shipped to different locations and also demonstrating a comprehensive history of the product at each moment throughout the chain. Having the technology to track the product closely and without time lapses allows manufacturers to see a product’s journey in its entirety from product production to customer delivery, which is essential for compliance.

The strongest business outcomes are powered by a holistic view of the supply chain and mature understanding around the value of automated processes. Automation and integration provide heightened efficiencies and a global view of the chain, which in turn allows manufacturers to drive costs down and focus squarely on accelerating and optimizing the business. Manufacturers then reduce manual effort while increasing visibility and activity, thus keeping the global view top of mind.

Need to Adapt

Moving forward, it’s important to note that there are several prominent trends and obstacles manufacturers likely will face as the industry evolves. For example, adapting to trade regulations will be an ongoing battle. Regulations are likely to be increasingly demanding as governments continue to increase their scrutiny. As a result, focused assessments and fine structures may result in heavy penalties. In the future, manufacturers will benefit increasingly from maintaining flexibility and learning to adjust to market changes. We recently have seen changes to the Dodd Frank Act, for instance, in relation to conflict materials. By fostering a nimble chain structure that can adapt quickly to the new regulation, manufacturers can avoid fines and penalties, or more importantly, loss of licenses or status that will increase difficulty for foreign trade.

To ease adaption to evolving regulations, technology will continue to play an important role in how manufacturers optimize and automate processes. For example, updated software can centralize all of the automated, integrated activity to paint a picture of the end–to–end processes and their associated costs and audit trail. With multiple, time-consuming and complex processes automated to a central task, manufacturers can decrease costs and increase both efficiencies and accuracy. A cloud-based solution that allows corporations to integrate applications into a global infrastructure is another example of a technology-driven solution that empowers manufacturers with a comprehensive view of the supply chain.

Analyze This

As technology continues to evolve, so does the type of data collected. Analytics are becoming an increasingly important tool for manufacturers to make better informed decisions based on the data that can be collected throughout the various phases in the product lifecycle. For example, the calculation of total landed costs is a key tool in pulling together total costs of procuring a product. Using advanced analytics, manufacturers can pull together data from freight costs to duties to determine which vendors are most efficient in sending products from Point A to Point B. Additionally, mobile applications are driving this trend by empowering manufacturers with immediate access to data. For example, compliance checks can now be completed using a mobile device, which in turn, empowers employees with the ability to check on the status of products on a more regular basis at their convenience.

Every market will continue to have its own set of trade regulations across various industries. While new and emerging markets will require compliance in each specific market, understanding the processes associated with global trade today will drive effective supply chain management for manufacturers. By proactively adjusting the chain forward-looking manufacturers, now and on a continuous basis based on needs, will ensure further success and positive business outcomes.les in driving business outcomes.