If you can see it coming, you can fix it faster

Posted by Sam Pearson, on November 17, 2016

How aftermarket supply chain analytics can create an insight-driven advantage

For today’s supply chain to approach optimization, executives must be able to anticipate problems, not simply react to them. That’s a difficult proposition if companies don’t have windows into the right information at the right time. You can’t change something if you can’t see it coming. However, gaining that insight-driven advantage isn’t out of reach. In fact, as products are increasingly loaded with sensors and monitors, the aftermarket is becoming rich in data. It’s no surprise, then, that interest in using business analytics to extract insight is growing. Many manufacturers have found aftermarket analysis to be highly profitable. Now they can see what products or parts are making the most money, what products are being actively used by consumers, and where they might be failing.

Using supply chain data from the aftermarket

With aftermarket data, it’s possible to anticipate and plan for break downs far earlier—before the media becomes interested, and often in time to address performance issues through design changes. Companies can make alterations long before too many faulty issues reach the market in the first place. Case in point: When a large global car manufacturer faced stubborn safety issues, and the sprawling, expensive, unfocused recalls that often resulted, it turned to the discipline of proactive sensing analytics—one in which aftermarket data played a large role.

The company designed a solution for understanding and connecting data across warranty, voice of the customer, and voice of the dealer, ultimately developing an alerts management model for the business. Today, this solution helps supply chain leaders and others rapidly detect and prioritize safety issues—and scope recalls that are faster and more accurate.

Where can companies go wrong?

Don’t operate in a silo. Often businesses work hard to glean and analyze data in one part of the company and the information doesn’t get shared effectively with another. This particular car manufacturer was successful, because many of their leaders were involved. Analytics done right requires a comprehensive set of capabilities that intersect and integrate with multiple functions and skill teams across an enterprise. Otherwise the insight wont turn into the desired action it’s intended to create across the organization. Ensuring analysis is shared enterprise-wise can reveal solutions that should have been transparent but weren’t because the right executives weren’t looking.

It all hinges on how well it’s made in the first place, isn’t it?

Executives have long known that the aftermarket has a role to play in improving product quality from the start, as part of a “virtuous circle” of insight, product development, manufacturing, and service. What’s different now? It’s the increasingly available wealth of data from the field. By applying analytics to this data, it’s possible to improve the information used to inform upstream processes in manufacturing quality, supplier quality, and product development quality. In the end, a higher level of product quality can reduce warranty and recall costs while improving customer satisfaction.

To be successful conducting supply chain analysis in the aftermarket, businesses should not only have the proper analytic tools, but they also should have the foresight to ensure that the insight-driven advantage stretches well beyond their own departments to affect service change for the better.

Sam Pearson is a principal in Deloitte Consulting‘s Supply Chain practice who specializes in logistics and distribution. He has more than 20 years of experience in operational, technology, and strategy roles. His broad cross-industry supply chain experience includes automotive, off-highway, consumer and industrial products manufacturing, agriculture and food processing, oil and gas, and defense. Sam also serves as the Deloitte’s US Supply Chain Analytics leader.


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