Epicor's Andy Coussins Drives Resilience in Manufacturing

Andy Coussins is the Head of Epicor’s International Business & Executive Vice President. Here He Discusses Navigating the Supply Chain Landscape with AI

In 2018, software development company Epicor wanted to rebuild its international business after a period of heavy declining growth and attrition rates. Steve Murphy, CEO at Epicor, came to Andy Coussins to see if he was ready for a challenge. Together, they knew that they could turn the business around to deliver strong growth, with focused supporting teams who had faith in their products. Now, Coussins is the Head of Epicor’s International Business and the Executive Vice President.

“My role involves heading up international teams, managing customer and partner relationships, facilitating Epicor’s continued growth and its expansion into emerging markets and developing economies, as well as seeing through key international acquisitions,” he says. 

Epicor is a global provider of industry-specific software which works hand-in-hand with customers in the building supply, distribution and manufacturing industries to create industry specific solutions and services designed to enable a world of better business.

“Year after year, our customers’ implementation of Epicor solutions has demonstrated how we can help enable them to innovate and achieve their business goals.”

Epicor’s products and services have proven themselves to be the backbone to overall business growth in the manufacturing and distribution sectors. The company provides leaders with vital insight into business operations, enabling them to make better decisions faster and automating otherwise manual tasks to free up employee time - valuable to a growing company with a stretched workforce.

“Epicor helps organisations gain actionable insights to optimise and automate their business flows and drive time-to-value,” adds Coussins. “It does this through its data-first strategy that allows customers to integrate both internal and external data sources and interpret signals and indicators both within their business, and across supply chains.”

Epicor’s Industry ERP Cloud portfolio, grounded in contextual business intelligence, also facilitates collaboration with suppliers and partners by providing unified communication channels and enabling data sharing. This promotes better coordination, resulting in more responsive and streamlined business operations.  

“Our customers across the Make, Move, and Sell industries are strengthening their critical operations with the flexibility, scalability, and security that a cloud model provides,” says Coussins. 

Resilience is key when it comes to supply chain management

Supply chain issues continue to dominate headlines, as business operations bear the brunt of logistical challenges triggered by extended global events, such as the Red Sea crisis, which has had an impact on crucial shipping routes. 

In the past, global supply chains were established with the goal of ensuring that products reached their destination precisely when needed to fulfil customer expectations. This ‘just-in-time’ approach however, meant that if there was a disruption either at home or abroad, a plant could be brought to a standstill and disable a manufacturing facility, especially for SMEs that may only keep up to five days of inventory. 

“These global events which have disrupted supply chains over recent years have exposed the inefficiencies of the ‘just-in-time’ model and shown that resilience is key when it comes to supply chain management,” asserts Coussins. “Companies have since been shifting their mindset towards more of a ‘just-in-case’ model, which encourages decision-makers to predict potential challenges in the supply chain, plan ahead, and adequately prepare to effectively handle future disruptions and the challenges that accompany them.”

In order to strengthen an organisation’s entire network, Coussins feels that it is of vital importance to be able to identify any weak links or threats from manufacturing, distribution, shipping and receiving, due to the interconnected role they play, and potential impact if they break. 

“Priority supply links can then be strengthened and a robust plan put in place to minimise any supply chain shocks,” he advises. 

Disruption isn’t a question of if, but rather when it will happen, and a resilience strategy can optimise up-time from operations to finance. 

Technology such as cloud-based platforms, AI and IoT all enable real-time visibility, predictive analytics and automation. As a result, new ways to make, move, and sell better than the competition can be seized.

“For manufacturers, such technology means better visibility into demand, including fluctuations (whether seasonal or unplanned), live inventory to maximise efficiency and the ability to rapidly change whom to source from before supplier disruptions turn into production disruptions,” says Coussins. “For distributors, warehouse and shipping operations can run smoothly with real-time insights across all routes and channels for operational efficiency and improved customer satisfaction.”

AI-enabled data supply chain strategies can transform industries

An AI-enabled data supply chain strategy can transform industries, by automating processes and reducing time-consuming labour intensive tasks. This allows humans to give attention to the things that really matter when it comes to decision-making and increasing business growth and productivity.

“The potential of AI is limitless,” asserts Coussins. “It plays a crucial role in establishing essential data connections across departmental silos, automatically analysing diverse business data and creating actionable insights to elevate operational performance.”

A notable illustration of AI's impact can be seen in the case of low-code/no-code solutions, which substantially increase workflow efficiencies. These solutions offer automations or 'recipes' that can seamlessly orchestrate human or machine tasks into an end-to-end digital flow. 

“By automating time-consuming manual processes on the shop floor, workers gain additional time to focus on other critical aspects of the business and develop higher value skillsets,” says Coussins. 

This can help companies to develop their resilience, as supply chain disruptions persist.

“Industries leveraging ERP systems that are designed to integrate AI seamlessly can swiftly analyse vast data volumes, transforming it from a mere record-keeping system into an organised system of actions,” adds Coussins.

This shift from data generation and collection to strategic and well-informed execution is key to elevating a company’s approach to information management, analysis and security. All of which are vital components for future-proofing supply chains and driving digital transformation across the manufacturing and distribution industries.

“An AI-enabled data supply chain gives businesses the intel needed to scale production accordingly, adapt to any sourcing problems in real-time and make faster decisions to minimise disruption.”


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