Firms recognise value of supply chain collaboration 'but many still do not exploit its potential',...

24 December 2015

Around 82 per cent of trade and logistics experts believe cooperating closely with supply chain partners and working together to optimise workflows results in competitive advantages that outweigh the risks, according to a survey.

More than 300 experts from a variety of sectors in Europe and the US were surveyed by software provider AEB and the DHBW University in Stuttgart, Germany, in a study on supply chain collaboration, part of a series on global trade management trends.

Some 87 per cent of logistics experts hoped that through collaboration they would achieve "optimised processes", followed by "knowledge gains" (83.7 per cent) and "accelerated workflows along the supply chain" (81.3 per cent).

A smaller proportion of respondents – between 24 and 32 per cent – cited lower transport costs, shorter lead times and fewer delays in customer shipments as the main benefits of collaboration.

More than half of the study’s participants are already collaborating with customers (57 per cent) and suppliers (55.4 per cent).

Transportation was the most important field of collaboration, with 45 per cent of respondents already working closely with partners and 26 per cent planning to do so.

Between 30 and 40 per cent of respondents also work with other companies in inventory, forecasting and order and capacity management.

The most typical way of facilitating collaboration is through IT platforms, used by 58.5 per cent of respondents, or by agreeing on industry standards (56.9 per cent).

The most commonly cited risks were "loss of control over data" (71.1 per cent) and "unclear responsibilities" (70.6 per cent).

Concern over cultural differences was considered an obstacle to collaboration by 58.9 per cent of respondents.

About half of those surveyed feared close collaboration would not benefit both sides equally. But 87.2 per cent of those already engaged in collaboration saw it as providing a competitive advantage.

Professor Dirk Hartel, head of the department of business administration service management at DHBW and co-author of the study said: "It’s clear that businesses recognise the benefits of collaboration in the supply chain, but many still do not exploit its full potential."

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