What Is a Mobile Supply Chain?
The technology-driven digital economy is changing everything about the way we work. As a result, companies are under increasing pressure to not just optimize their processes and supply chains, but transform them to better meet regulatory requirements, gain (and maintain) a competitive advantage and adapt to continually changing business environments that demand more robust levels of visibility, traceability and connectivity.
One way to implement this sort of transformation? Adopting a mobile supply chain, which delivers end-to-end visibility and execution across the extended supply chain by providing mobile workers—regardless of their role or location—with the moment of truth information and control that they need. Field service technicians who work in the oil, gas and mining industries are a prime example of workers who, enabled by mobility, have information at their fingertips that lets them work smarter, faster and safer. Not only can they access critical information like work orders, instruction lists and inspection specifications—they also have the capability to constantly transmit details like labor, parts requests, inspection results and inventory changes to the back office, creating an unimpeded pipeline of information (no pun intended) that gives office workers complete visibility into the job site, no matter where it’s located.
One of the most critical advantages of a mobilized supply chain is that it introduces a benefit-laden mobile optimization to all areas of the business. Consider, for example, asset and inventory management, two ongoing areas of focus for oil, gas and mining companies. By mobile-optimizing the required processes, businesses can not only track the health and performance of their (often expensive) equipment—they can also maintain up-to-date visibility into their assets and inventory, which can enable significant cost savings by limiting equipment downtime and preventing high levels of unnecessary inventory loss.
Mobile-enabled connectivity is also a critical factor when it comes to safety and compliance, two significant areas of focus for any company in this line of work. Rapidly changing compliance regulations, including labor and environmental requirements, demand the continual visibility to quickly and accurately report on these government-mandated stipulations. And because a mobile supply chain introduces higher degrees of efficiency and visibility into the organization, more safety measures—including real-time alerts and the automation of potentially dangerous inspections and processes—can be put into place.
The Benefits of a Mobile Supply Chain
We’ve briefly touched on many of the benefits that companies in the oil, gas and mining industries realize as a result of mobile-optimizing their supply chains. Here’s a more comprehensive list of what mobility can do:
- Real-time asset management and inventory tracking
- Minimizing employee risk through automation and machine-to-machine integration
- Decrease overtime payments by enabling employees to be more efficient
- Metered product dispensing, which leads to faster, real-time order-to-cash cycles
- Track progress (actual vs. projected)
- Provide updates in the field
- File health and safety incident reports
- Fulfill requisition entry
- Enable field service operations
By mobilizing common oil, gas and mining processes like equipment inspections, maintenance, inventory movement, parts requisition, time tracking and compliance reporting, you’ll also gain greater visibility and collaboration so you can ensure effective planning, supply chain synchronization and expense management by having the right parts and people available at the right time.
One of the most compelling arguments for a mobile supply chain is that its implementation doesn’t need to be complicated. Instead, it’s about examining key business processes (and related industry requirements, including corporate transparency, natural resource extraction reporting and environmental regulations) and logically incorporating mobile technology. Machinery could be equipped with sensors that automatically relay diagnostic information back to mobile devices, minimizing the need for manual checks and alerting project stakeholders at the first sign of a problem. The same sort of technology could be applied to other equipment, including pipelines, introducing a layer of automation that frees employees from the burden of time-consuming (and sometimes dangerous) manual inspections.
The list of what’s possible continues to grow, making an increasingly strong case for a mobile supply chain as the new business imperative. When used strategically to address specific business and industry needs, mobile technology can certainly change how we work, even in the most challenging environments—and it’s in these types of locations that mobile optimization has the potential to make the greatest impact.