SCM refers to a set of approaches that are used to integrate suppliers, manufacturers, warehouses and stores, so that goods are produced and distributed in the right quantities within the right time scope. SCM activities can either be simple or complicated depending on the size of the business and the number of goods being sold to customers. Technological requirements in the manufacturing, health, and retail industry are more or less the same with very minor differences. In all the industries, SCM aims at ensuring full end-to-end visibility of information from the suppliers, distributors, and customers (DeAngelis, 2010).
In the manufacturing industry, more technology is required to ensure the availability of inputs needed for production, minimize costs of manufactured goods, and ensuring supplier and customer integration. In the health care industry, the technological requirements for SCM are more complex because there is a wide range of products and services that make up patient care. SCM technological requirements in the retail industry are also complex because retail is a highly variable business. Retail demand for products and services fluctuate throughout the year, and so the industry has to work extra hard to ensure that products arrive on the shelves in the most effective manner despite the demand fluctuations. Despite these minor differences, technological requirements for SCM in the three are similar in that they all want to control product quality, inventory levels, timing, and costs.
Appropriate software tools for each industry and client
Each industry can therefore use various software tools that could help in SCM. The SBS seating manufacturer requires various components such as frames; electrical parts (heating and comfort features); padding; and leather sewing (final assembly). The manufacturers would therefore use multiple processes in order to join all the components. An appropriate software tool that could help the manufacturer harmonize these processes is that can automate the whole manufacturing process so that there are minimal processes. Such software could also minimize defects in seat production and also increase the quality of the final product. Another appropriate software tool that the company could use is an improved business accounting software from the basic accounting software it currently uses. Such a tool would also include other financial functions like inventory control, CRM and ERP.
MLD Hospital has little or no specific technology tools pertaining to inventory management and so the most appropriate software tool to use would be business management software that which can integrate all business processes into one solution. The software could manage inventory control, CRM, billing, or purchasing. Another appropriate software tool would be specialty hospital software that would help the hospital track information needed to optimize inventory control. Such software would manage all aspects of physical inventory, including ordering, receiving, performing physical counts, or even tracing usage and defects. The two software tools would help the hospital to manage and optimize its inventory (DeAngelis, 2010).
Walton’s Department Store is mainly interested in providing low cost products and is relying on technological innovation to optimize costs. An appropriate software tool for the store would be price optimization software. This software would enable the store to align everyday prices so as to maximize revenue and margin. Another software tool that is appropriate for the department store is the Merchandise Planning and Optimization software that would help in determining what products to put on shelves, how to determine prices, and what to promote so as to maximize sales while minimizing expenses (Oracle 2014).
Non-software technology that might be useful
Apart from the software technology tools, the three businesses could also use non-software technology to help in optimizing costs and efficiencies. For the SBS Seating manufacturer, motor vehicles could be used in moving the various components required in manufacturing seats. Vehicles could be used to replace employees who are hired to move parts from one production area to another. Vehicles will be able to carry more loads faster and cheaper from one location to another compared to human beings.
For Walton’s Department Store a non-software technology that might be useful in optimizing costs and efficiencies is one that reduces the manual processes. For instance, robots could be used to replace cashiers and store attendants. The retail industry mostly relies on the staff to perform all activities. However, robots could replace some of the employees and particularly cashiers. This could reduce staffing costs as robots are cheaper and could perform more work than humans. Robots can also perform multiple tasks like checking for item prices and creating receipts. Even though the initial costs of getting robots will be high, robots can help in optimizing costs and efficiencies (Vel, & Mosavi, 2010).
The hospital could use robotics to enable cheaper operational costs. The hospital could use robots or machines with different degrees of robotic automation to help reduce costs and make operations more efficient. The health care industry mainly relies on health care personnel to provide services to patients, and this could be quite costly. Robots can therefore be used to conduct simple operational tasks or even provide new ways in which health care providers could interact with patients beyond the bedside interaction. Robots can also be used to replace employees at the hospital and perform operational tasks at reduced costs (Lee, 2013).