A supply chain is defined as a system or a network of people, information, resources, organisation, or activities which are involved in making sure that a product reaches the client or customer from the supplier.
There are many key parameters when it comes to a supply chain. Some of the most significant ones are as mentioned below.
- Production Planning
- Production Scheduling
- Material Planning
- Demand Forecasting
- Material Procurement
- Preservation of raw materials
- Transportation Planning
- Dispatch Documentation etc.
Significance of a Supply Chain
Whether large or small, the supply chain plays an important role in an organisation. It provides better revenue growth to the business. It makes sure that a product reaches the customers on time and in the right condition. A poor or inefficient supply chain can cause a business to shut down.
The modern supply chain has reached a new level with the introduction of IoT, AI, and machine learning. It has become data-oriented. The digital transformation that is taking place has changed the way supply chain works. To improve delivery, accuracy and reduce costs, the supply chain has become more of a data-oriented process.
In any business involving the delivery of a product from one point to another, there are possibilities where the delivery may not be on time, or the product is not in stock. Data visualisation is something that can help a business to point out where the issue is generated from within the supply chain and will help you counter the same.
Data visualisation can be called the graphical presentation of data and information by using visual elements like maps, charts and graphs. Data visualisation tools give a convenient way to view and understand patterns, outliers and trends in data. It helps you to analyse large quantities of data and create data-driven choices. What makes data visualisation such a promising technique is the fact that it grabs a person’s attention not through theories but with the visual aspect.
Data Visualisation Techniques
Supply chain management has a variety of factors, from market planning until last-mile delivery, which all can be made perfect with the use of data insights.
Many organisations make use of charts regularly. However, some do not know how to make the right chart. There are three different kinds of charts:
- Pie Chart
- Bar Chart
- Line Chart
With proper usage of charts, you can visually show the differences, profits and losses, dynamics and varying proportions of individual elements with ease.
Maps are used by various industries to show the routes, position of relevant objects or elements and also to map out areas. Some maps can show the geography, building, website layouts and more.
Some of the mapping systems commonly used are dot maps, flow maps, cartograms and heat maps.
In Plots, you can allocate more than two data sets in a 2D or 3D space. It is utilised to explain the relationship between the parameters given in the plot and the sets.
There are various types of plots, like bubble plots, scatter plots and box plots.
Matrices and Diagrams:
Matrices are data visualisation techniques that are used to check the correlation between numerous data sets that are continuously changing and updating.
When diagrams are considered, they are used to show complex links and data relationships.
Data Visualisation Tools
Data visualisation tools are software that is used to make it easier for companies to create a visual image or representation of large data sets.
This tool is mostly used by companies that need the use of maps. The leaflet has a library of maps for mobile as well as desktop use. It is said to have all the necessary mapping features which most developers look out for.
Being an enterprise-level tool, E-charts provides a smooth run on mobile devices and PCs. It is also famous for being compatible with almost all new browsers.
It has a set of analysis tools that help organisations to get better insights.
It is used for visual data analysis. Tableau is a business intelligence tool that helps users to distribute and create shareable and interactive dashboards, showing densities, trends and changes of data in charts and graphs. It can connect to relational data sources, big data sources and files to process and get data.
Advantages of Data Visualisation
- Lowering time and costs: Using the right software can help you in reducing the time taken for your organisation and the third party that you rely on when exchanging valuable information. This means better productivity and more uptime, which in turn helps in being cost-efficient.
- Promotes company growth: When there is better communication with the help of data visualisation, the workflow of the organisation or company also works effortlessly with lesser mistakes. Using this technique will help you to decipher what all the large data means, thus enabling you to understand it without having to waste any time.
- Proactive services: If deliveries are made after the promised date consistently, it is pretty easy to lose valuable customers/clients. By using the supply chain visualisation technique, it allows users to instantly see the data, despite the data coming in from different systems. By possessing accurate and fast data, information that is easy to manage, professionals in supply chain management can take essential measures to inform the customer that orders might be delayed and when the next scheduled time will be.
- Ready to promise: It is not an easy task to have products available twenty – four – seven. Hence the customer has to be made aware of the next best reasonable time when the product can be delivered. This is not always feasible when the supply chain has separate systems for inventory management, planning and execution. Supply chain visualisation combines data from many sources and makes it available in a single source. It presents it effortlessly in an understandable and readable format so customer service agents and customers have practical expectations about when orders will be dispatched. Having detailed shipment information helps develop customer satisfaction, which in turn helps boost revenue from repeated order requests.
- React to supply and demand changes: Deciding on what changes are to be made in supply or demand is one of the most complicated issues in the supply chain administration or management. Managers of supply chains must be able to see open purchase requests/orders alongside open sales requests/orders to settle on a plan of operation. If deliveries are overdue, deciding which order can be stalled or can be redeployed by seeing the rest of the open orders, thus making decisions simpler. It is a prolonged process with possibilities of errors and is considered cumbersome – even if the information is processed electronically. With a real-time supply chain data visualisation technique, users should not have to squander time by combining data from various systems into a spreadsheet to view what is possible.
- Prepare your supply chain for efficiency: Being ready to tackle any situation is a great advantage that comes with the use of supply chain data visualisation techniques. By using this technique, companies have the chance to prepare themselves for maximum efficiency. Here the supply chain managers get to see other suppliers and sources so that they can compare the overall cost or the effect on the increase or decrease in demand and also what steps can be taken for all the planned promotions.
There are various tools for data analysis and data visualisation. These vary from intuitive to obtuse, from simple to complex. Not every tool is appropriate for every person seeming to learn visualisation techniques and not every tool can scale to industry or enterprise purposes.
Another thing to keep in mind is what kind of data visualisation you want to use, depending on the customers and the company itself. Once you know the kind of customers you deal with and the kind of people who work in the organisation, the right tool can be used for the best results.
Also, remember that sound data visualisation principles and skills will transform specific tools and products. When you are learning this skill, focus on the best applications in the industry and explore your style when it comes to dashboards and visualisation.
Data visualisation is not going away any time soon, so it is essential to build a framework or a base of storytelling, exploration and analysis such that you can take it with you despite the software or tools you end up using.
In the future, with the introduction of AI, data visualisation is going to take different forms. Companies that rely on the supply chain will be positioned for growth and competitiveness by using machine learning to draw predictions that make sense from all the data that is gathered along the supply chain and then deliver it using a data visualisation interface. Hence, among various other things, data visualisation can help us be honest when we say our companies are green and our operations are running clean.1