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Efficient Automation Provides Full Awareness – part one

Published by , Editor
World Cement,

Questions that we challenge

What are some requirements an organisation has to deliver to its customer, employees and stakeholders? What security related issues such as preventing accidents or the theft of goods and demands in respect of transparency, customer satisfaction and efficiency have to be discussed and are under scrutiny from the board of directors each year? Within a manufacturing plant, these questions arise in parts of the supply chain on a regular basis, in particular, in functional areas such as the management office, the delivery registration process, the IT business units and the HR department. Furthermore, plant management and shipping offices for inbound and outbound processes and loading stations have to deal these types of questions.


Accelerated growth and changing market conditions, rising costs of customer satisfaction and keeping high quality standards of offered products and services constrain an organisation to review and restructure its infrastructure in many ways. Often seen and strongly affected by these issues are functional areas where manual intervention is required. Due to deprivation of necessity, lack of knowledge or unknown process asymmetries, it is challenging to know how to restructure and improve processes reasonably and economically.

The bird´s-eye view

Looking at these issues from a bird´s-eye perspective and taking them under surveillance in a generic way, it becomes obvious that we need to address and think about solutions to improve or solve them.

If we keep a close eye on security related topics, such as safety concepts of a plant or the theft of product after a truck has left the plant, most people do not waste much thought on if the delivery reached its final destination. Is this something the responsible stakeholder is fully aware of?

For instance, it is important that your statistics state that no accidents occurred within the past months. But, is the safety concept really a topic any stakeholder gives serious consideration to?

Truck drivers are pressed for time when they conduct business at your plant. Looking at the process flow in the plant, observing their walks from the parking area to the registration office, or how they load their trucks at the loading stations, it becomes obvious how many risks arise during their plant visit.

So, the question is: how can you as a manufacturer and supplier of bulk goods prevent accidents and thefts to protect yourself and your stakeholder? Although some bulk manufacturing plants offer semi-automated processes, such as card dispensers and self-service terminals, the accelerated growth and the combined time pressure and fast-moving nature are factors that make you think if semi-automatic mechanisms are still acceptable. Although the need for some manual processing still exists, it is definitely possible to reduce it in parts of the supply chain.

Fully aware through tracking all

The same concerns arise if we envision how transparent the business processes within our company are in respect to customer satisfaction and efficiency. The questions we should ask ourselves are, for instance: is my invoicing process transparent, efficient and quick enough and does invoicing take place soon after a delivery leaves my supply chain? In addition to the prepared daily ERP and Excel reports, how are we able to monitor all these processes without conducting a daily conference call?

Again, to take the bird´s-eye view to solve the problem objectively, an IT based automation solution provides different options. Many companies work with a web based haulier portal and invest in performance, usability and security to increase sustainability and stakeholder satisfaction to reduce the idle time of trucks and the order/registration management, to improve the planning/plant management and to eliminate redundancies by optimising parts of the supply chain and by outsourcing several entities.

This is part one of a two-part article written for World Cement’s December issue and abridged for the website. Subscribers can read the full December issue by signing in, and can also catch up on-the-go via our new app for Apple and Android. Non-subscribers can access a preview of the December 2016 issue here.

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