Collaboration And Communication In The Downstream Supply Chain

Terminal owners and operators managing a downstream supply chain require close cooperation with trusted partners to operate efficiently. The supply chain includes wholesalers, suppliers, buyers, carriers, and terminal owners. All play a part in modernizing processes that will maximize prosperity and success.

Revenue growth, efficiency, profitability, and avoiding costly delays all depend on close collaboration between each link in the supply chain. This often requires digital modernization. One of the most significant challenges involves accurate and efficient data sharing.

As an established leader in the energy sector, DTN is strongly positioned to help you increase collaboration and digitization across the supply chain. It can help you improve collaboration between your downstream partners with next-level data sharing.


Problems facing collaboration and communication and how they affect the downstream supply

Outsourcing can introduce the problem of new failure points along the supply chain. The resulting fragmentation in both the upstream and downstream supply chain can make product delivery uncertain. Arriving at the correct location, at the time expected, and at an affordable cost are all vital goals your organization must achieve for success.

Digital modernization efforts to streamline collaboration have traditionally been overlooked, particularly in downstream supply chains. The oil and gas industry, generally speaking, has been slow to embrace digital modernization.

In addition, legacy information systems are not designed to share information effectively, due to technology decisions made independently of other partners at each link in the supply chain.

How can collaboration and communication between partners along the supply chain be significantly improved? Let’s look at three ways.

Refinery with Computer data

1. Proactively resolve problems

The key to collaborative success is to make communication between each link in the supply chain as seamless as possible. Through digital modernization critical data needs to be automatically routed to where it can improve operational intelligence. Although the importance of digital modernization is evident, many organizations have not yet found a platform they could embrace fully.

When we say the “importance of digital modernization is evident,” what do we mean? What objectives/benefits could be achieved? They may include some or all of the following:

  • Improve operational efficiencies
  • Improve customer experience
  • Improve business continuity
  • Improve employee experience
  • Acquire actionable insights to respond quickly to market changes
  • Improve collaboration/communication with supply partners
  • Upgrade/consolidate legacy IT infrastructure
  • Improve data insights and analytics
  • Eliminate conflicting data between supply partners
  • Create a single source of accurate information

Proactively resolving problems should also involve implementing a supply chain management strategy with a specific goal. That goal is to fully integrate critical processes from the end-user back to suppliers and help your company prosper in a dynamic world.

This integration may involve the sharing of:

  • Resources
  • Assets
  • Facilities
  • Processes
  • Information
  • Knowledge

If the flow of information between partners in the supply chain is streamlined, this will positively impact logistics planning, lead times, and costs. Increased transparency plus the active sharing of relevant data and knowledge will allow supply chain partners to more readily respond to unexpected developments that affect normal operations, such as volatility in oil prices.

Hands pointing at laptop screen

2. Maintain one version of data/information

In order to be trustworthy, there must be a single source of information through the whole supply chain. This is only achieved through the transparent sharing of relevant data. Exchange of critical information between partners in the supply chain results in each conducting more efficient operations.

There can be no successful collaborative endeavors between upstream firms and downstream without adequate information sharing. Immediate, automated data transfer helps decision-makers properly manage supply chain operations and synchronize decisions. Automated data transfer benefits include:

  • Reduction of costs caused by errors that result in schedule delays.
  • Reduction of uncertainties about supply and demand
  • Simplification of complex decision-making scenarios
  • Transparency of information
  • Increased overall profitability
  • Increased customer satisfaction

The problem of fragmented and contradictory data is only overcome when your organization digitally modernizes. Those data obstacles can be overcome by automating data entry and distribution. Suitable software applications ensure that one source of truth is maintained and accessible in real-time by all parties in the supply chain.

Fuel Storage Tanks

3. Receive status/process updates

Using the right digital tools allows visibility and clarity across the supply chain. This means managers can monitor activities and receive continual status and process updates.

Why is this so important? The monitoring of shipments and the receiving of accurate and ongoing status updates is vital to the continuing success of any business. Missing a scheduled delivery date has expensive ramifications.

All parties in the supply chain must monitor the flow of product at each stage of the process to protect their margins; thus, the need for reliable and real-time information.

Solving the supply chain puzzle calls for the right solution that supports your digital modernization efforts using operational insights. Your business depends on operational intelligence to make confident decisions that improve your bottom line and reduce risk.

To that end, our Partner Insights solution is a collaborative, digital platform that streamlines data collection and distribution, customized to your operation. 

It safely and securely integrates data into existing business processes and ensures quality and consistency. It is flexible and easy to use, drastically reduces turnaround times, and enables fast, secure inter-enterprise data sharing and coordination.

Partner Insights increases collaboration between downstream oil and gas supply chain partners by streamlining the collection and sharing of critical data required to load fuel at the rack.