Tag Archives: Data Analysis


Since Covid people who never heard the term “supply chain” have become painfully aware of what it means and how deeply it impacts their lives. It doesn’t take a viral pandemic to create supply chain disruptions. A factory fire, a natural disaster, or resource scarcity — everyday occurrences — can all lead to items disappearing from shelves.

The recent formula shortage was largely due to a single factory being temporarily shut down.

Product shortages can be a significant hardship for families all around the world. In this article, we talk about how data mining can add stability and predictability to supply chain management.

First, What is Data Mining?

Data mining is the practice of looking at large quantities of information already stored in a database to retrieve new insights from it. Basically, it’s the process businesses use to create actionable knowledge. In the context of supply chain management, the data could pertain to anything from consumer habits, transportation routes, product development, or resource excavation.

Every single action that takes a raw resource out of a mine or jungle and turns it into a product on your shelf creates information. More information than any human (or, for that matter, any room of humans) could ever examine in two lifetimes.

With data mining, data processing, and data analysis, that information can be tamed and channeled toward productive means.

Supply Chain Threats

What variables currently threaten supply chain management? Because there are so many steps taken to turn raw material into a physical product, many variables can interrupt the process. Perhaps there is a storm that halts excavation. A viral outbreak that pauses work at a factory.

Disruptions in the transportation sector. Maybe the demand for a product is so much higher than anticipated that it becomes impossible to manufacture it at an appropriate pace.

All of these scenarios can lead to supply chain disruptions. Through data mining, however, many of them can be mitigated or avoided outright.

Understanding Supply

Let’s say (with unfortunate accuracy) that there is a recession projected to sweep through the country in the not-so-distant future. Naturally, financial downturns can have a significant impact on the way people shop.

But how can stores and supply chain managers use this information to make sure that there is plenty of the things people need and a relatively modest amount of things that will go largely ignored?


Using historic shopping data, supply chain managers can get a vivid forecast of how people are likely to behave during the next recession. This might mean deemphasizing the production and supply creation of luxury items and focusing more on putting staples on the shelves.

Fleet Management

The transportation industry is an enormously important component of supply chain management. Using IoT (internet of things) and data, fleet managers now enjoy unprecedented control over their routes. Maps, even GPS-driven maps, tend to be relatively limited in how granular they get. Route recommendations mostly factor in distances. Even programs that account for speed limits, etc. do so for the benefit of personal vehicles.

Trucking is a different animal. Does this route include a short overpass that the truck will need to detour to get around? Maybe the road winds, requiring a large vehicle to slow down to a crawl.

With historical route data, mined through telematics technology (sensors, mostly) fleet managers now get automated reports that recommend the best routes for their trucks. These recommendations not only factor in arrival times, but can also be calibrated to make recommendations most likely to preserve the condition of the vehicle.

Transportation companies run more efficiently. Products arrive at their destinations on time. It’s a win for everyone.

Adjusting the Chain

In a post-Covid world, one needn’t stretch their imagination to imagine a scenario where something could go wrong within a supply chain. Delays and shortages can happen after only a single break in the chain.

With data, supply chain managers can make reasonable forecasts about potential disruptions, and plan accordingly. Already, the supply chain management industry has moved toward keeping a healthy supply of alternative production lines — often closer to home — so that they can pivot immediately into new solutions when problems arise.

With robust access to data, supply chain managers can receive quicker insights as to when they should reach for these solutions.

The result? Fewer disruptions, and significantly more consumer stability.  No more months and months of waiting for a new refrigerator or oven.

*This article is written by Andrew Deen. Andrew has been a consultant for startups in almost every industry from retail to medical devices and everything in between. He implements lean methodology and is currently writing a book about scaling up business. You can follow him on Twitter @AndrewDeen14.

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No manufacturing company can reach its full potential unless its people and assets are kept safe. Any accident, no matter how small, can seriously interrupt workflow and hurt a business’s ability to meet its production goals. This is why manufacturers must be diligent about creating a culture of safety within their organizations. Beyond establishing and promoting basic safety behaviors and procedures, investing in workplace automation could greatly improve the overall well-being of your industrial operation.

For example, robots can complete the same task thousands of times a day without becoming bored or inattentive, which can decrease delays caused by mistakes or distractions. Automation also means that human workers reduce their risk of suffering injuries due to repetitive strain.

Another advantage of automated technology is accident prevention. Autonomous forklifts and other self-driving machines can avoid collisions and other mistakes often made by human operators. This means work can continue with fewer interruptions and employees are able to stay on the job without injury.

Perhaps one of the most important benefits of workplace automation is the amount of data it provides. With detailed metrics that are compiled automatically, managers can get a clearer picture of their operations. Data can also help administrators identify areas of improvement that can be targeted to reduce the risk of accidents and increase productivity.

Building a safer and more successful workplace requires taking advantage of every tool at your disposal. To learn more about how automation can help you accomplish this goal, take a look at the accompanying infographic by The Numina Group.


How to Increase Productivity and Safety with Workplace Automation


By improving your processes and automating certain procedures, you can create a workplace that is not only safe, but extremely productive. If you’re looking for guidance in buttoning up your operations to be as efficient and secure as possible, contact us today.


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Marketplace pressures have forced procurement professionals to abandon traditional sourcing practices and implement more responsive strategies designed to promote organizational efficiency, agility and flexibility for growth, not to mention cost reductions. For businesses on the outside looking in, it might be difficult to understand how strategic sourcing differs from other long-established procurement practices. Here’s what differentiates truly strategic sourcing strategies from their predecessors:

Data dominates strategic decision-making

In the past, procurement professionals focused on building and maintaining relationships with suppliers. This makes sense on the surface. After all, vendors are more likely to provide price reductions and special services to loyal customers than they are fickle patrons. However, these connections can become problematic. Service agreements might fade over time as casual collaboration usurps formal partnership. This can lay the groundwork for cost increases and significant breakdowns in service delivery.

Conversely, strategic sourcing strategies place more focus on data analysis rather than relationship-building, according to Insight Sourcing Group. Instead of measuring vendor performance via the quality and frequency of personal interactions, procurement teams utilizing this methodology base their decisions on actionable KPIs and regularly review active contracts to ensure adherence. While impersonal, this approach often generates optimal return on investment as it allows procurement teams to partner with high-quality suppliers and therefore strategically source materials based on real-time marketplace conditions. This operational strategy is essential today because of fluctuating raw material prices, according to analysis from analysts at Knoema.

Growth outpaces gain

Stakeholders in most departments normally gravitate toward operational strategies that net quick wins. Procurement professionals are no different – and for good reason. More than 80 percent manage activities that directly affect the bottom line and contribute to company success, analysts for PricewaterhouseCoopers found. As a result, most are under pressure to appease executives who answer to shareholders looking for immediate, demonstrable progress. Unfortunately, quick wins do not translate to sustainable success. Deals made in the interest of immediate budgetary or operational improvement often lose their luster over time and can become budgetary burdens, the organization discovered. Additionally, some vendors draw up contracts in anticipation of this strategy, front-loading potential agreements with discounts or credits that disappear following the first year or so.

On the other hand, supplier agreements developed as a part of strategic sourcing best practices center on short-term and long-term company needs, allowing vendors to provide services that change or scale with the organization. The benefits that come with these contracts tend to unfold slowly, making them considerably less flashy than deals designed to generate quick wins. However, they undoubtedly have a more lasting affect on operations by facilitating extended growth.

Strategic thinking begets bargains

In the past, vendors had the upper hand when negotiating with businesses due, in part, to the fact that few procurement teams spent time looking into alternative sourcing options, Insight Sourcing Group reported. In fact, best practices dictated that procurement professionals solicit a handful of proposals and choose the cheapest out of the bunch. This was, of course, an immensely problematic strategy that not only increased the likelihood of budgetary overrun but also promoted operational decline. The emergence of strategic sourcing has changed the procurement paradigm, allowing organizations to take back bargaining power via strategic thinking.

Today, businesses confronted with unfavorable supplier agreements are likely to look for other arrangements by mining their supply chains for sourcing functionalities that might negate the need for external partners. Sometimes, enterprises decide to keep things in-house and avoid third parties altogether. In other cases, this practice prompts vendors to reassess their original proposed agreements and draft new contracts with more favorable terms. No matter the strategic method of choice, organizations that pursue methodologies centered on strategic thinking can save money and ensure they can bring in the raw materials needed for production.

These are just a handful of the variables that separate traditional sourcing models and strategic approaches, which continue to increase in popularity due to their effectiveness. Indeed, businesses that embrace strategic sourcing can develop sustainable workflows that facilitate long-term growth and keep costs low – truly the best of both worlds.

Here at USC Consulting Group, we’ve been working with organizations in almost every industry for 50 years, helping them transform their operations and adapt to marketplace shifts of all kinds. Connect with us today to learn more about our experience and how we can help your company bolster its bottom line by embracing strategic sourcing.

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