The Race for Operational Excellence: Supply Chain Analytics

16 August 2020

These days, achieving true operational excellence is impossible without a thorough understanding of your processes and how they relate to the needs of your staff or customers. Lean processes mean elimination of unnecessary work, reducing errors and focusing on what is really important. It is key to keep costs under control and to level production and service up to speed.

Being truly operational excellent requires, apart from the deep understanding of your processes, a grasp of the constraints and prerequisites they are subject to. Operational excellence is all about having a collaborative focus on your customer’s needs, keeping team members positive and empowered, and continually improving the current activities in the workplace. Effective workforce planning, well organized supply chain operations, preventing production lines from breaking down, efficient use of infrastructure, keeping energy consumption under control, workplace safety… Just to name a few examples.

Analytics is one of the key enablers to help organisations achieve these goals. From workforce planning and process optimization to predicting future breakdowns, it’s Analytics to the rescue.  Analytics helps organizations to get actionable insights from data allowing them to reduce costs, make faster and better decisions and to create new products and services to meet customers’ changing needs. Powered by technologies like machine learning such intelligent systems are starting to find a use in just about every industry.

Industry 4.0 and the uprise of supply change digitisation

With the current trend of automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies, also known as Industry 4.0, digitization of the supply chain and supply chain connectivity are on the rise. In fact, the future of supply chain digitization will be driven by data and analytics. Techniques like predictive analytics, the use of open data, geospatial analytics (location intelligence), process mining as well as the recent advances in deep learning are improving the way the entire supply chain makes use of data.

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Using data to achieve operational excellence

In the digital supply chain all processes have one thing in common. They generate a great amount of data. For example, think of order management systems recording purchase orders, planning systems, workforce management systems, trucks with GPS devices or containers equipped with RFID tags. More and more, today’s technological evolution is replacing everyday objects with ‘smart things’: intelligent devices that effectively collect data on a large scale, both on themselves and their environment. They all have access to the Internet of Things (IoT) and take part in the conversation in the digital supply chain.

At AE we understand that the intelligent collection, analysis and use of this wealth of data enables companies to optimise their operational processes and set themselves apart through competitive pricing, better services and products. Together with our colleagues at AE we support our customers by building intelligent supply chain solutions by combining our data science and machine learning expertise with the business knowledge and years of experience in supply chain projects, built on a solid foundation of architecture, the right technology and best practices in software development. In the following weeks we will present some of these intelligent supply chain solutions we have built for and with our customers.

Logistics optimization: Presenting our customer stories

The first case will cover the story of the optimization of the logistics processes and terminal operations using process mining techniques at DP World Antwerp, one of the world's largest container handlers. Next up, e-llis takes the stage, a 4PL- provider of data-driven logistics network solutions including construction, integration, optimization and management of even the most complex supply chains. In this project we developed, together with our customer, a self-service order shipment optimization application.

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We hope you will enjoy reading our customer cases and get inspired by them to win your race for operational excellence. If you are still eager to know more about building intelligent and innovative supply chain solutions after reading these customer stories, you should drop by at our boot at the GS1 Forum 2019 (, the Supply Chain event of Belgium, bringing together Supply Chain professionals from all over the country. At our boot we will bring more interesting Smart Supply Chain stories to give you a kickstart in the race for operational excellence.

Bram Vanschoenwinkel

Written by Bram Vanschoenwinkel

is an AI expert who started his career as a researcher at the Computational Modelling Lab at the University of Brussels and obtained a Ph.D. in Science (Machine Learning, Data Mining). Over the past 10 years, Bram led a team of 15 data scientists offering actionable business insights from data. He is currently Chief Product at Customaite.

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