Perfect vision, all along the line25 April 2012
This month's issue is topped and tailed by articles concerning having sight of your production processes and broader market.
In the news section, we report on a recent study by US company CSC. Working with the Neely School of Business and Supply Chain Management Review, the company finds that the most successful companies are increasingly those that have the best visibility into their supply chain: that is, they knew more than their rivals about customers' sales information, promotional plans and demand forecasts; and their suppliers' inventory, order lead times and delivery dates.
It shouldn't surprise that CSC, as a supplier of analytic and supply chain software, make an argument like this. But it is a argument that is compelling: making use of the best of modern technology to keep on top of your suppliers and customers is key to success, particularly in a world where margins are under everincreasing pressure.
The crane sector can play a role in supporting this type of insight. No crane is ever going to be able to warn you of problems with a supplier, or a sudden surge in customer demand. However, many companies are now offering weighing systems and other forms of tracking that integrate into lifting equipment and can report back to your enterprise-wide software.
That might help you keep control of costs, and maximise profits. The other type of visibility we look at this issue comes in our equipment review.
Around the world, and across industry sectors, standards and regulations demand regular inspection of lifting equipment. Even without these compliance requirments, it is common sense that components that play a vital role in safe lifting should be checked regularly.
The checks themselves are normally reasonably simple to carry out (as one would expect on comparably inexpensive bits of kit). The problem is knowing if a particular bit of kit, our of perhaps thousands on site, has been checked, and scheduling your next inspection.
The equipment described in our equipment review will help with that: RFID chips in hooks can link via handheld readers to company or supplier databases of inspection records, letting inspectors on site instantly see when a hook was last checked and when it is due to be checked again, pulling up documentation and reports as needed. Increasingly, this sort of vision of your business's production and processes will be vital to remaining safe and competitive. Are you doing all you can to keep your eyes open to the potential new technology offers?
Will North Editor