Depending on a complex set of processes, supply chains often involve a range of people spread across multiple locations. In order to be successful operations hinge on the right people doing the right things, at the right time, in the right place. “Until recently, it was difficult to track the activities of personnel at each stage,” says Kit Kyte, Chief Commercial Officer, Checkit.
“Checkit is an intelligent operations management platform that puts guided digital assistants into the hands of frontline teams in the form of a mobile app. The app prompts, guides and tracks their activity and feeds that data back in real-time to a dashboard for managers. Insight from workflows is combined with data from sensors (such as temperature and humidity monitoring) to provide a picture of what’s happening, create a digital audit trail and enable discrepancies to be identified and fixed quickly.”
Smart Manufacturing and Supply Chains
Kyte explains that historically, smart apps to support productivity, efficiency and collaboration have only been available for those in offices. “Mobile technology changes this by empowering deskless workers in the supply chain with digital tools that instruct them on best practices, recognise their good work and reduce the burden of manual checking and reporting. At the same time, it helps managers gain a level of visibility and control over frontline operations that haven’t been possible previously.”
The Key to Strengthening Supply Chains
“Visibility is key to strengthening confidence in the supply chain,” comments Kyte. “Technology to help monitor the condition of goods, particularly refrigerated, frozen or fragile items, is fairly well developed now. But there hasn’t been the same attention on supporting and recording the important work of people in the supply chain. By encouraging best practice and generating proof of compliance – with time, location, bar codes, personnel and photographs attached – there can be more trust.”
COVID-19 and the Digital Supply Chain
“The roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines has put a new level of focus on the cold chain,” comments Kyte. “Temperatures have to remain consistent at all times to maintain the safety and efficacy of vaccines. The requirement applies at all stages of the supply chain - stretching from warehouses to regional distribution hubs, vehicles, hospital cold rooms, freezers, fridges in GP surgeries and even out to people’s homes – as care moves increasingly into the community,” adds Kyte.
“Items like vaccines pass through a lot of stages, overseen by a lot of different people, on their way from the manufacturer to patient. You need to know there was consistency throughout that time period. Monitoring is essential. Historically, temperatures were checked with min-max thermometers and recorded with pen-and-paper – and there are some instances where that’s still happening. The next stage in this evolution was the introduction of data loggers, which give a retrospective indication of a temperature breach,” continues Kyte.
“Automated monitoring was a breakthrough enabled by the internet and wireless technology – giving us continuous real-time monitoring from any location, immediate notification of changes, analysis of trends and precise, digital compliance reporting. Now we’ve moved into a fourth phase of cold chain management technology – with process management tools that provide a complete picture. These tools prompt, guide and track the steps taken by teams of staff, wherever they are located, according to standard operating procedures. We can see what happened, where and when, in incredible detail.
“So the incredible vaccine innovation we’ve seen has been matched by technology innovation in the supply chain. We’re able to provide a level of insight across the supply chain that simply wouldn’t have been possible just a few years ago,” concluded Kyte.