Tag: supply chain management

From Pickaxes to Pixels: The New Era of Digital Mining

In our rapidly advancing global economy, the digital transformation of commodity supply chains represents a critical pivot towards greater efficiency, transparency, and sustainability. In a recent episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I delved into this subject with Andrea Aranguren, CEO of MineHub. Our discussion illuminated the profound shifts and strategic imperatives driving this transformation, underscoring its far-reaching implications.

The traditional commodity supply chain model, often mired in paper-based processes and manual interventions, faces numerous challenges. Inefficiencies, lack of transparency, and environmental concerns are just a few. However, with the advent of digital platforms, there’s a clear trajectory towards more streamlined, transparent, and sustainable operations. The merger of MineHub and Waybridge, as Andrea Aranguren discussed, is a prime example of this shift, focusing on enhancing trade management for crucial commodities like copper and aluminium.

The significance of this digital shift extends far beyond mere process automation. We’re talking about a fundamental transformation in how supply chains operate. For instance, according to a report by McKinsey & Company, companies that aggressively digitise their supply chains can expect to boost annual growth of earnings before interest and taxes by 3.2% – the largest increase from any business area studied.

A compelling aspect of digital transformation is its role in enhancing sustainability. Digital supply chains enable precise tracking and reporting of environmental impact, a critical factor in an era where ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) compliance is becoming a boardroom priority. For example, blockchain technology, increasingly adopted in supply chains, offers traceability and transparency, crucial for verifying sustainable practices and ethical sourcing.

Overcoming resistance to this digital shift, as Andrea noted, is challenging yet essential. Traditional industries often exhibit a reluctance towards new technologies. However, the tide is turning. Leaders like Codelco demonstrate the tangible benefits of digital integration, from considerable cost savings to operational efficiencies. Such examples underscore the potential of digital platforms in transforming supply chains.

The broader industry context also points to an increasing move towards digital solutions. According to a Gartner report, 87% of global companies will invest in robust supply chain resilience, focusing significantly on digital technologies. This investment is not merely for efficiency; it’s a strategic move to build robust, responsive, and responsible supply chains.

Looking ahead, the digital transformation in commodity supply chains isn’t a mere trend; it’s an evolving ecosystem. We’re likely to witness further market consolidation, with integrated digital solutions becoming the norm across various commodities. This evolution is pivotal not just for business efficiency but for driving global trade towards a sustainable and transparent future.

For a deeper dive into this critical shift in supply chain management, I encourage you to listen to the full episode of our podcast.

In conclusion, the digital transformation of the commodity supply chain is a strategic imperative. It’s about adapting to a world where efficiency, transparency, and sustainability are not just valued but demanded. As industry leaders, embracing this transformation is not just beneficial; it’s essential for future success and resilience.

The Pivotal Role of Technology in Enhancing Environmental Health and Safety

In the realm of Environmental Health and Safety (EHS), the winds of change are blowing strong and steady. As the host of the Digital Supply Chain podcast, I recently had the privilege of delving into this topic with Donovan Hornsby, Chief Strategy Officer at Benchmark Gensuite. Our conversation showed the profound impact that technology, particularly AI and data management systems, is having on EHS practices. This post aims to share some of these insights and explore the transformative power of technology in EHS.

Tech-Driven EHS: More Than Compliance

The traditional EHS model, often compliance-driven, is being fundamentally redefined. We’re transitioning from reactive to proactive strategies, with technology at the forefront. Consider, for example, the use of AI and machine learning. These tools can analyze historical incident data and predict potential hazards, allowing organisations to preemptively address risks. A study by McKinsey suggests that AI could reduce workplace injuries in manufacturing environments by up to 20%.

AI and Machine Learning: Game Changers in Risk Assessment

One of the most compelling takeaways from my conversation with Donovan was the pivotal role of AI and machine learning in EHS. These technologies are not just about compliance; they’re about preemptively identifying and mitigating risks. By processing vast datasets, AI can uncover hidden patterns and correlations that might escape human analysis. For instance, predictive analytics can forecast equipment malfunctions or system failures, thus preventing accidents before they occur. This approach is not just about hazard identification; it’s about creating a safer, more informed workplace.

IoT and Wearable Tech: Real-Time Monitoring and Safety

Another technological marvel reshaping EHS is the Internet of Things (IoT) and wearable technology. During the podcast, we didn’t delve deeply into IoT and wearables, but these technologies are worth noting for their impact on EHS. Devices equipped with sensors can monitor environmental conditions like toxic gas levels or extreme temperatures, alerting workers and managers to potential dangers. Wearables can track physiological data, warning of fatigue or other health risks. According to a report by Verdantix, the use of wearables in EHS is expected to see significant growth, highlighting their value in real-time safety monitoring.

Data Management Systems: Centralising EHS Insights

Donovan emphasized the importance of robust data management systems in our discussion. Robust data management systems are crucial. They enable the integration of disparate data sources, providing a comprehensive view of EHS metrics. Such systems not only streamline compliance reporting but also offer insights for continuous improvement. For instance, a unified EHS platform can track sustainability metrics, aiding in a company’s journey towards reduced carbon footprint and environmental stewardship.

The Challenges Ahead

As we advance technologically, the challenge lies in balancing tech implementation with human factors. Technology should complement, not replace, human expertise. Continuous education and training are crucial to ensure effective utilisation of these tools.

The Road Ahead: Technology as a Catalyst for Change

The integration of technology in EHS is a journey toward a safer, more sustainable workplace. As discussed with Donovan Hornsby, these advancements empower organisations to move beyond traditional compliance models, fostering a proactive safety culture.

To explore these concepts further and hear our full discussion, I invite you to listen to this episode of the Digital Supply Chain podcast.

As we navigate this path, it’s clear that technology is not just an enabler but a necessary catalyst for building safer, more responsible business environments. Embracing these innovations is imperative for any organisation committed to safety and sustainability.

The future is not only about meeting standards; it’s about setting new ones.

The New Era of Supply Chain Management: Embracing Real-Time Supplier Data

In the ever-evolving landscape of global supply chains, the accuracy and timeliness of supplier data hold paramount importance. My recent podcast discussion with Stephany Lapierre, CEO of Tealbook, shed light on this critical topic, offering valuable insights into how real-time supplier data is reshaping supply chain management. This blog post aims to explore the significance of continuously updated supplier data, supported by both our conversation and wider industry examples, to illustrate its vital role in building sustainable and resilient supply chains.

The concept of continuously updated supplier data is not just a technological advancement; it’s a strategic necessity. In a world where supply chains are increasingly complex and interconnected, the ability to access current and comprehensive supplier information is a game-changer. It enables businesses to respond swiftly to market changes, manage risks effectively, and make informed decisions.

For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies struggled with supply chain disruptions due to lack of visibility into their suppliers’ operations. A survey by Institute for Supply Management in 2020 revealed that nearly 75% of companies experienced disruptions in their supply chain due to transportation restrictions. This crisis highlighted the need for real-time data to quickly identify alternative suppliers and adapt to changing conditions.

Moreover, continuously updated data is crucial for maintaining sustainable supply chains. With growing emphasis on corporate social responsibility, businesses are under increasing pressure to ensure ethical practices across their supply chains. For example, legislation like the EU’s Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) requires companies to disclose information on their supply chains’ social and environmental impact. Accurate, up-to-date supplier data is essential for compliance and for building a brand associated with sustainability and ethical practices.

Tealbook’s approach, as discussed in the podcast, exemplifies the power of AI in transforming supplier data management. By providing dynamic, detailed profiles of B2B companies, Tealbook enables organizations to enhance transparency, reduce risk, and improve procurement efficiency. This kind of innovation represents a significant shift from traditional, static methods of managing supplier information, which often lead to outdated and inaccurate data.

The impact of real-time supplier data extends beyond risk management and regulatory compliance. It also plays a crucial role in identifying opportunities for cost savings and efficiency improvements. A study by The Hackett Group found that companies with digital procurement platforms have seen a 30% cost reduction and a 50% reduction in transactional costs. By harnessing the power of up-to-date data, companies can optimize their procurement strategies, negotiate better terms, and identify opportunities for collaboration and innovation within their supply chain.

In conclusion, the importance of continuously updated supplier data in today’s business environment cannot be overstated. It is a cornerstone for building resilient, sustainable, and efficient supply chains. For those interested in exploring this topic further, I invite you to listen to my full conversation with Stephany Lapierre on the Digital Supply Chain podcast.

Embracing the power of real-time data is not just a step towards operational excellence; it’s a stride towards a sustainable and resilient future for businesses worldwide.

Securing the Digital Supply Chain: A Candid Conversation with Jon Geater


In this fascinating episode of our podcast, I had the opportunity to speak with Jon Geater, Chief Product and Technology Officer at RKVST. Jon has an extensive background in cybersecurity, having worked in the aerospace industry before co-founding RKVST, a platform focused on enhancing supply chain security and transparency. We discussed the challenges and opportunities in securing digital supply chains, the role of attestations, and the importance of balancing transparency and confidentiality. You won’t want to miss this thought-provoking conversation!

Key Insights and Quotes:

  1. The Importance of Secure Digital Supply Chains:

Jon emphasized the significance of securing digital supply chains – a secure digital supply chain is one that doesn’t get in the way of the business but enables it. He noted that the physical supply chain is being digitally transformed, and the digital supply chain is being cyber-physical transformed. These insights highlight the interconnected nature of supply chains and the vital role of cybersecurity in this ever-evolving landscape.

  1. Attestations: A Powerful Tool for Supply Chain Integrity:

Jon introduced the concept of attestations, which he defines as small, cryptographically signed and tamper-proof statements about the world. He believes attestations can play a crucial role in securing supply chains, as they provide verifiable evidence of the supply chain’s integrity. By leveraging attestations, businesses can improve transparency and trust while minimizing potential security risks.

  1. Balancing Transparency and Confidentiality:

Jon discussed the importance of finding a balance between transparency and confidentiality in the supply chain. He explained that while transparency is crucial for building trust, it can also create security risks if sensitive information is disclosed. Conversely, confidentiality is necessary for protecting proprietary information, but excessive secrecy can hinder trust. Jon’s insights emphasize the need for businesses to strike the right balance to maintain both security and trust in their supply chains.

  1. First Steps Towards a Secure Digital Supply Chain:

When asked where businesses should start on their journey towards a secure digital supply chain, Jon suggested visiting RKVST’s website (rkvst.com) and the Supply Chain Integrity, Transparency, And Trust group’s website (scitt.org). These resources offer valuable information and case studies to help businesses understand and implement best practices for securing their digital supply chains.

  1. A Call to Action:

Jon posed a thought-provoking question regarding motivation for businesses to improve their supply chain security: “What will be the motivator?” He encouraged businesses to think critically about their current approach and consider taking more control over their supply chain risks. By adopting a more digitally native mindset, businesses can better protect themselves from potential security breaches and ensure their operations continue smoothly.


My conversation with Jon provided valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities surrounding digital supply chain security. His expertise in cybersecurity and supply chain attestations offers businesses a fresh perspective on how to secure their operations while maintaining trust and transparency.

Don’t miss this insightful episode – listen to the full conversation with Jon Geater and explore the resources mentioned at rkvst.com and scitt.org. Connect with Jon on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date with his work in securing digital supply chains.

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Can blockchain and the Internet of Things mitigate supply chain reputation risk?

Supply chains are complex, unwieldy beasts, which are notoriously hard to tame, but a solution could be in the offing, using Blockchain, and Internet of Things technologies.

“Mommy, I want to be a supply chain manager when I grow up”, said no-one. Ever.

Supply chain management has to be one of the most difficult, thankless jobs in business. In this globalised age, it becomes increasingly complex, all the more so, the bigger an organisation becomes.

Getting a company’s supply chain right, can transform a company’s fortunes. Witness Apple Computers, a large part of Apple’s resurrection was due to having the best supply chain in the world (as ranked by Gartner for the last 5 years in a row).

Getting you supply chain wrong on the other hand can have serious consequences. Tesco saw €360m knocked off its value overnight when it was discovered that it’s beef burgers were found to be 29% horse meat. Investigations subsequently showed that the horse meat entered the supply chain without Tesco’s knowledge, but the issue still had significant implications for people’s trust in the brand.

In another famous example, taken from the Economist Intelligence Unit’s  Managing supply-chain risk for reward [pdf] report it noted

Nearly a decade ago, lightning struck a Philips microchip plant in New Mexico, causing a fire that contaminated millions of mobile phone chips. Among Philips’ biggest customers were Nokia and Ericsson, the mobile phone manufacturers, but each reacted differently to the disaster. Nokia’s supplychain management strategy allowed it to switch suppliers quickly; it even re-engineered some of its phones to accept both American and Japanese chips, which meant its production line was relatively unaffected. Ericsson, however, accepted Philips’ word that production at the plant would be back on track in a week and took no action. That decision cost Ericsson more than US$400m in annual earnings and, perhaps more significantly, the company lost market share. By contrast, Nokia’s profits rose by 42% that year.

And then there is the issue of conflict minerals. These are natural resources (such as cassiterite (for tin), wolframite (for tungsten), coltan (for tantalum), and gold ore) mined in a conflict zone and sold to help finance the fighting. These minerals are required for the manufacture of electronics such as tablets, laptops, and mobile phones. Coincidentally, Apple announced yesterday that it is now auditing 100 percent of its suppliers for the use of conflict minerals.

How best to gain and enforce transparency into supply chains? Traditionally this has been done with audits, a resource intensive process if carried out correctly.

However two more recent technologies may help significantly improve this procedure – blockchain, and the Internet of Things.

Blockchain, the technology which underpins cryptocurriencies like bitcoin, is basically a cryptographically secure, immutable record of transactions. And recently it has been used to set up and enforce smart contracts for things such as managing community energy exchange transactions in New York, to issue equity to drivers in a cooperatively owned ride sharing platform, and to authenticate users, and manage the billing process when charging electric vehicles in Germany.

If every item in your supply chain is part of a blockchain, then it has a proven provenance. Add to this always-on traceability using Internet of Things technologies, and you suddenly have a robust, transparent, virtually bullet-proof supply chain.

Has anyone rolled this out for their supply chain yet? Not that I know of, but it can only be a matter of time (did I mention supply chains are complex?).


Photo credit Neville Hobson