I interviewed Kerwin Everson who discussed Five Ways to Lift Supply Chain Productivity with Visible Data.
It’s good to speak with you today, Kerwin, and I’m looking forward to hearing your views today on the topic of five ways to lift supply chain productivity with visible data. Can you start by providing a brief background of yourself?
Sure, thanks, Dustin. We’re happy to do this. My name is Kerwin Everson, and I am a global practice leader or SME, subject matter expert, for supply chain solutions with RMG Networks. We’re headquartered in Dallas but we have global offices around the world. Supply chain solution is just one of the solutions we offer to visualize data and employee communications.
Thank you. Can you talk about what it means to lift supply chain productivity with visible data?
Well, one of the things we like to say, Dustin, is anytime you’re in the supply chain space, they have a wide array of data. They are rich in data, whether it’s parts produced, products picked or packed or shipped. The data exists everywhere but, typically, it’s in a system, it’s in a report somewhere. What we try to do through our visual supply chain is extract that data and put it where decisions can be made in real-time. One of the things we likened this to is, most of today’s supply chain is similar to going to a sporting event without a scoreboard. They don’t have the data visible that workers, managers, supervisors, and executives can see in real-time to provide the real-time metrics needed to meet goals for the day. That’s what visual supply chain will help them do; they’ll get a productivity lift just by knowing exactly where they stand at the moment and what they need to do by the end of the shift to meet their goals.
Why is it important?
Well, it’s important for a lot of reasons, but, typically, what we find in today’s supply chain is we see what we call a lot of business silos. One department doesn't know what another department’s doing; one plant doesn't know what another plant’s doing; one distribution center is not speaking to another; in some cases it’s even supplier not talking to manufacturer. Visual business intelligence is important to help. The number one thing it does is eliminate these business silos; so, it provides information up- and downstream of the supply chain so that one area can know exactly what’s happening in another. That’s just one of the reasons it’s important. I can go into all five of these, but you may want to slow down and ask questions in between, or would you just prefer I tell you all the reasons it is important?
Yeah, I think it would be interesting to hear the five ways.
That first one, really, visual business intelligence eliminates business silos. Secondly, we say that visual supply chain utilizes real-time performance management. If we’re relying on yesterday’s data or last week’s report, we kind of liken that to managing in your rearview mirror. Imagine the improved decision-making if you knew exactly where I stood right now and I wasn't relying on a report that was an hour or two hours old or tells me what happened this morning. Typically, that’s what we see in today’s supply chain: corkboards full of reports, thumbtacked up there. That’s kind of the second way. The third way is that we have experienced that visual performance management improves employee morale. There are lots of supply chain enterprises that pay employees based on incentive-based pay; the more you pick or pack or ship, the more we’re going to pay you, but then they don’t provide that scoreboard, as we talked about earlier. The employee wants to do a good job, and they’re the ones who will help you make a difference, but you have to provide them that real-time information; that’s vital to doing their job better and improving their morale.
The next thing that supply chain digital signage can do is increase efficiency and productivity within the supply chain. I already mentioned data’s everywhere but, usually, it’s manually updated. What’s amazing—I’m sure most of your supply chain audience who might be listening to this knows, they’re well aware of the Hawthorne effect that you can increase a worker’s productivity just by singling them out or managing or measuring a specific metric that is important to them. What we find in visual supply chain is that you get what you measure, whether you’re looking for an improved safety metric or quality or accuracy of orders or parts per minute or pieces per hour; whatever it is, you’re going to see an uptick in efficiency and productivity by visualizing that data and doing it in real-time. And then, finally, we think that visual data prominently displayed in real-time can actually raise your profit margin.
Everything we’ve shared up to now really translates to the bottom line: If we eliminate silos and have better communication between departments, if we increase, employee, engagement and morale, if we improve the corporation’s metrics and efficiency in productivity or safety or quality, all of this translates to ROI, Dustin, and we have real examples and case studies of customers that have seen 20 percent improvement in production levels or 5 to 15 percent in picking and packing in a large distribution center. The examples are certainly there, and we want to help customers visualize their supply chain data, not just post another report with day-old metrics.
Do you have any final recommendations?
Well, one recommendation I would give to anybody listening to this is to look into that whole concept of visual supply chain. Some of your manufacturers listening might call this visual factory. The point is, the more that you get the information out to where decisions are made, the closer to the decision being made, real-time information allows you to make real-time decisions. My suggestion would be to look at visual, digital signage as a solution to some of the roadblocks and hurdles you’re having to get through in your supply chain by relying on old data. RMG Networks, it’s certainly one those companies that we would hope you would look to when you’re trying to visualize your digital signage and put your metrics in real-time, up on scoreboards, on dashboards, on desktops, or even on mobile devices; we can help you with all of that.
Thanks, Kerwin, for sharing these views on improving supply chain productivity using visible data.
Thank you, Dustin. I appreciate the opportunity. We’ll look forward to more conversations in the future on other supply chain topics, but thanks again for your time.
About Kerwin Everson
Director, Global Accounts - Global Practice Leader
Supply Chain Solutions at RMG Networks