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Reimagining Supply Chain Management from Edge to Cloud

supply chain management solutions

Today’s manufacturers have embraced digital supply chain management solutions like enterprise resource planning (ERP) software, manufacturing execution systems (MES), and warehouse management systems (WMS), which solutions have increased efficiency and saved them time and money. But some serious challenges remain.

For one thing, the digital supply chain management technologies used by manufacturers are often difficult to integrate, resulting in fragmented solutions. Moving critical data from one system to another—and then turning that information into manufacturing plans and schedules—often relies on inefficient, time-consuming manual processes.

It’s also hard to obtain real-time data from production facilities—a crucial piece of the puzzle for managing and optimizing supply chain management. “Gathering data from the factory floor is notoriously difficult due to the high computing requirements,” says Kun Huang, CEO at Shanghai Bugong Software Co., Ltd., a software company offering a manufacturing supply chain management solution.

Recent advances in edge computing help companies like Bugong deliver comprehensive edge-to-cloud supply chain management solutions for manufacturers—and early results have been extremely promising.

The key to integrated digital #SupplyChain management is an edge-to-cloud #architecture. Shanghai Bugong Software Co., LTD via @insightdottech

Supply Chain Management from Edge to Cloud

The key to integrated digital supply chain management is an edge-to-cloud architecture. This requires both computing capacity at the edge and data pipelines to move information around—either between internal systems or to the cloud for further processing.

Bugong’s solution is a good example of how this works in practice. At the edge, industrial computers gather real-time production data and deploy intelligent production scheduling systems. These devices help manufacturers forecast capacity, optimize processes, implement lean management, and respond to unforeseen order changes or production issues immediately.

Industrial data systems like ERP, MES, and WMS are then linked together through a kind of digital pipeline—and are joined to the cloud as well. This facilitates free flow of data, both between internal systems and to powerful cloud processing software. In addition, it eliminates cumbersome manual data transfer processes.

In the cloud, a dashboard unifies supply chain data for visibility, analytics, automation, and decision-making. This enables round-the-clock monitoring, automated alerting when an unexpected event occurs, and rapid responses to emergencies or production changes.

A system this complex, especially when it is deployed across multiple sites within a manufacturing business, will naturally require significant edge processing power as well as flexible implementation options. Intel technology was crucial in bringing Bugong’s solution to market. “Intel processors provide a reliable, versatile, and high-performance platform for edge computing,” says Kun Huang. “We found them an ideal foundation upon which to build a supply chain management solution.”

Supply Chain Management Solutions Deliver Real-World Results

The architectural details of edge-to-cloud supply chain management solutions may seem a bit abstract. But their integration, automation, and real-time response capabilities confer a wide range of practical benefits.

On the level of day-to-day operations, managers can calculate supply chain capacity and customer demand—and plan accordingly. That allows factories to commit to rational delivery times and make data-driven decisions about expedited delivery requests or on-the-fly change orders. They can also constantly monitor production status for potential problems or delays. The result is improved on-time order metrics, fewer missed opportunities, and happier customers.

For medium-term planning, comprehensive supply chain management solutions offer valuable data analytics and decision-making support. Plant managers and logistics teams can formulate optimized logistics and purchasing plans to streamline shipping and improve procurement of materials—reducing transportation costs and helping to avoid supply interruptions and inventory backlogs.

And as a long-term planning aid, these systems can be used by business decision-makers to gauge overall supply capacity, determine when production capacity needs to be scaled up, and decide if measures such as outsourcing are warranted.

Bugong has implemented its solution in several manufacturing enterprises, and the results have been impressive. Company officials estimate that the integration of different data systems alone can reduce interdepartmental communication costs by up to 50%. The technology also appears to scale well in real-world scenarios. In one large-scale deployment, Bugong set up a collaborative supply chain planning solution for a production line with more than 300 machines and 1,000 complex production processes involving more than 100,000 component parts. The system was robust enough to cope with the attendant heavy computational and data transfer requirements. Bugong reports that it was capable of processing around 5,000 orders—and all of their associated data—in less than 10 seconds.

A Blueprint for Industrywide Success

Software-based systems like the one developed by Bugong are inherently adaptable and flexible. Unlike so-called “lighthouse” smart factories, which are built primarily for demonstration purposes or to suit narrow use cases, these solutions are created to be copied and implemented by others. This opens the door for OEMs, solutions providers, and systems integrators to develop custom solutions that meet their customers’ needs—and to get new products and service offerings to market faster.

The prevalence of ERP, MES, and similar systems demonstrates that manufacturers value the efficiency enhancements that digital solutions can provide. Integrated, edge-to-cloud systems offer a whole new level of advanced management capabilities that will prove attractive to business decision-makers in the industry.

“Comprehensive digital supply chain management is a huge win for everyone in the industry,” says Kun Huang. “These solutions will help enterprises complete the digital transformation of their production processes, create new business opportunities for OEMs and SIs, and improve the efficiency and profitability of the manufacturing sector as a whole.”

This article was edited by Teresa Meek, Editorial Director for