The Supply Chain B2B Systems

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The use of B2B strategies to support company operations is not a new phenomenon. Industries have been using B2B strategies and processes to support the development of their products, services, and partnerships for many years. For example, the aerospace industry has been working with partners in the airframe, avionics, and engine sectors. All of these are members of supply chain groups who co-ordinate design, development, testing, acceptance, production, and maintenance of products and systems.

Other industries are also moving rapidly towards the adoption of supply chain B2B systems. The automotive industry has made huge inroads in this area.

All of these systems are designed to improve the efficiency and the method of dealing with partners in the development, manufacturing, support, and sales cycles. They allow contributors in the supply chain to view status information for inventory, orders, and deliveries within the framework of the production process.

Before the Internet, the benefits of supply chain management were considered high enough to invest in specialized networks and infrastructure to link members of the chain together. The Internet now allows us to connect these groups in a common system at a much-reduced cost, and the need for sophisticated and expensive communication systems is negated.

As many firms have already made the necessary investment to create these interdependent relationships with suppliers and business partners, the Web offers a unique opportunity to further extend and improve these systems.

Companies with supply chains understand the power and relevance of these systems. Companies like Dell have united an end-user focus with a superb Web delivery system. This has worked remarkably web for them, to the point that most of their business is created from online orders. Dell builds new products directly for existing customers' orders, thereby limiting expensive inventory costs and making it easier for them to upgrade and change with technology improvements. They are taking orders for more than $16mn of products online through their B2B and B2C site. In general, companies use supply management systems for many reasons, including:

~ Reducing manufacturing cycle times.
~ Reducing product development, production and manufacturing cycles.
~ Improved sales and delivery timeframes.
~ Reducing inventory.
~ Increasing revenues.
~ Reducing costs of goods.

A wide range of existing supply chain software and systems is in the process of becoming converted to meet Web-based and browser standards, so they can be extended easily' to meet a variety of market trends.


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