Over these past months, I’ve been penning multiple commentaries on incidents of supply chain disruption and risk.  These incidents have involved natural disasters, events related to specific products, such as product contamination, as well as failing suppliers.  If you click on the subject of supply chain risk management in the Categories panel to the right, you can browse up to 80 Supply Chain Matters posts providing commentary on this topic.

In my supply chain risk management workshop, I include a specific section addressing what technologies are appropriate to address supply chain risk identification, visibility, and mitigation. I do this for two specific reasons.  First, my belief is that many organizations are in the very early stages of development of an overall risk management process framework,  and thus do not have a full context for where technology can facilitate a risk management process.  Second, many supply chain technology vendors are hyping their applications as the answer to risk management, but not all technologies are appropriate. There are all sorts of dependencies ranging from scope of overall network integration, depth of functionality, or the existence of accurate or appropriate data.

With so many product contamination and recall incidents of late occurring within the consumer goods industry, I had the recent opportunity to speak with iTradeNetwork (ITN).   This vendor claims upwards of 5500 customers, and operates a trading network that connects consumer goods manufacturers/suppliers with distributors, brokers, wholesalers, retailers and restaurant chains. Geographic presence is in the U.S , the European Union, Canada and Australia.   The iTradeNetwork addresses business needs, ranging from inventory visibility, supply chain quality, or helping to collect product rebates.  Of late, the folks at ITN have been fielding more interest in product traceability needs, namely the ability to alert the chain to quality alerts, product recalls, or the ability to rapidly trace back to origin the supplier source of certain products.  ITN recently announced its Food Safety and Traceability Resource Center to provide a resource for food companies for food companies to stay abreast of the latest information.

Since ITN has already built its network of industry trading partners, providing added visibility information can be an extension of the network, without the need for on-boarding additional players. While there are at present no branded supply risk management applications, my sense is that all of the components are in place to roll out a more comprehensive visibility-oriented extension of risk management visibility.

As I continue to explore this area, I will from time to time pen additional entries on an interesting technology that I believe can make a contribution toward management of risks.

Bob Ferrari