Designing digital supply chains for the future

Entec is working closely with the University of Portsmouth under the government-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme to develop a digitally integrated MRO supply chain, where procurement demand is managed on the basis of intelligence and data collected digitally.

Chris Cullen, Entec’s Technical Manager – 3 PMRO Projects, is spearheading the project.

“The KTP scheme is in place to help business and academia to collaborate on projects that improve ways of working. In this case, the University of Portsmouth is helping us to investigate condition monitoring techniques that will support demand creation and order placement,” he explains. “By taking information about procurement patterns across multiple sites, we will be able to take a more holistic view of procurement costs and evaluate the most-cost effective options for the customer overall, rather than on a site-by-site basis. For example, the cheapest component may not necessarily be the best choice once costs of shipping over distance and carbon impact is factored in. The role of this digital technology will be to optimise procurement sourcing, improve efficiency and save costs.”

The vision is for customers’ demand data to be mined and held in a ‘command centre’ at Entec, so that Entec can respond to MRO requirements on a site and region basis, first identifying the best supplier and ensuring quality and cost parameters are met, then placing and consolidating the order.

One of Entec’s major customers in the global alcoholic beverages sector will be taking part in the pilot study, although Chris is quick to confirm that the resultant knowledge and digital systems will be transferable from the beverage sector through to FMCG and customers in other sectors.

“We are very excited about the project,” he says. “It’s early days yet, but we believe this innovation has the potential to deliver massive benefits to our customers, cementing long term partnerships while supporting delivery of their long-term goals for efficient and sustainable supply chains.”

Entec is also working with the University of Portsmouth on developing a commercially viable 3D printing technology, which would enable Entec to print off parts to order locally to site, thereby reducing tied capital, shortening delivery time and cutting shipping costs – while further reducing carbon emissions.

Clearly, while these are separate projects, they are tightly linked in helping Entec create cheaper and smarter digital MRO supply chain solutions for customers in the near future.