I wonder if it’s time to swap ‘just-in-time’ supply chains for ‘efficient and robust’ supply chains. To me, using the JIT descriptor suggests every supply chain process is in perfect lockstep with every other to the nearest minute. That isn’t the case and never will be. Ultimately, someone, somewhere is always ‘holding the baby’.
Driving ‘work in progress’ towards zero, for every component on a bill-of-materials, across every process step—from mining raw materials to soldering parts to a PCB—is a laudable goal. Imagine this could be achieved for a moment in time. A second later, some form of geopolitical, financial or technical change could render it useless.
Instead, what is required is the most efficient, flexible and robust supply chain for every point in time, regardless of the level of unpredictability. Is this achievable? I believe so, due to the widening availability of digital twins and APIs. It’s all about capturing and sharing just the right amount of data, the full length of the supply chain, in real time. I can be sure of this for two key reasons?
Firstly, when I’m not editing Electronics Sourcing I’m involved in the development of digital platforms. Staring January 2023 I’ve decided that future development projects will always be ‘API first’ using, presently, authenticated RESTful JSON technology. Secondly, many of the conversations I had with distribution organisations during my visit to Electronica were as much about data flows as they were about the components themselves.
Trust me, once you have connected two applications via a common interface you quickly discover the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.