Managing Complex Supply Chain Using Real-Time Data

At PCI, we have been able to keep supply chain disruptions to a minimum throughout the pandemic by utilizing these tools.

12 November 2021

2020 and 2021 have been a true stress-test for supply chains all over the globe. As we now know, many have not faired so well. Among the many lessons businesses have learned in these nearly two years, the importance of robust supply chain management is at the top.

Ultimately, protecting and maintaining a healthy supply chain comes down to communication, planning and agility, all capabilities that can be achieved through digitization and real-time data.

Digital Supply Chain Management Tools

Implementing robust, digital supply chain management software allows companies to completely transform the way they run.

A good digital management system will simplify the software landscape and increase IT efficiency and scalability, resulting in accelerated business growth and enhanced productivity.By digitalizing processes, it also allows for greater responsiveness and customer service. Management can receive faster feedback via real-time visibility of key performance indicators (KPIs), so needed adjustments can be made before issues grow.

Finally, digitization allows manufacturers to react immediately to changing market conditions based on real-time monitoring and data forecasts.PCI uses SAP, an enterprise resource planning (ERP) based system. SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain solution offers optimization of demand planning, AI technology for smarter sales order entry and user-friendly dashboards for management teams. SAP also maintains ongoing digital transformation initiatives for warehouse management, supplier network integration and plant maintenance processes.

Greater Communication, Process Optimization and Increased Scalability

Instant, effective communication is key in maintaining a strong supply chain. Manufacturing partners must be able to respond to orders and inquiries from clients quickly and accurately, and have the ability to update manufacturing plans should anything go wrong.

For example, the SAP tool PCI utilizes, SAP Integrated Business Planning for Supply Chain, can run what-if analyses to simulate the impact a new order will have on plans and timelines. With this information, we can give clients rapid feedback.

At PCI, these automated processes have resulted in increased productivity for demand planners and significantly lower risk of manual errors. Supply chain planning can be optimized by better prioritizing demands, allocations and constraints, and operations can scale efficiently as business volumes increase.

PCI also uses the tool to instantly communicate with suppliers in various regions across the globe. While we are based in Singapore (Southeast Asia), we can use SAP to quickly and clearly find out about any urgent issues with our group based in North Asia, and can readily visit should the need arise. In addition, the solution enables PCI to outperform customer expectations. While clients typically ask to confirm delivery dates for new orders within 5 business days, PCI can now commit within just 2 days –2.5x faster than requested.

Increasing Automation + Boosting Visibility = Agile Decision-Making

Staying on top of the supply chain, even in chaotic times, is also dependent on an organization agility. Whether there is a material shortage delaying component production or a global pandemic, a manufacturer must be able to swiftly implement a plan B. PCI has worked with SAP Intelligent Robotic Process Automation technology to streamline sales order entry processes, which ultimately cut the time required to enter a new sales order from 12 minutes to under 1 minute. 95% of employees have seen significant productivity gains.

In addition, PCI implemented a SAP Analytics Cloud solution that provides key performance indicators (KPIs) in real-time via a user-friendly dashboard. This data allows management teams to instantly review company-wide performance and make well-informed decisions more quickly. In this way, a rapid feedback loop is created and can be used to optimize operations and customer service.

The visible real-time data provided by digitization tools also delivers crucial insights for inventory management. PCI is a high-mix, mid-to-low volume manufacturing provider, so we deal with unique and complex products produced in relatively small numbers. Real-time monitoring provides a picture of the right levels of supply and demand for PCI many different SKUs, so the factory can continue to operate smoothly without dealing with excess or lack of product. All of these factors lend themselves to a team that is efficient, organized and prepared to tackle any potential supply chain disruptions.


In an interview with Lectrix CEO Graham Kilshaw,PCI SVP of supply chain and operations David Chan said, “We adopted an evergreen principle... always prepare for supply disruption.”

Even in times of “normal production,” a healthy supply chain depends on remaining sensitive to the market. PCI digital toolkit allows it to do this, using data and communications to anticipate major changes.

In times of shortage, a savvy organization can begin to prepare for a surplus, knowing supply will eventually catch up and result in excess. In this way, it can remain several steps ahead of supply chain hiccups.

Contact PCI to learn more about successful supply chain management.