Providing a space that connects companies in the manufacturing industry, contributing to the resilience and sophistication of supply chains

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In recent years, there have been a growing number of incidents such as natural disasters and trade friction that cause production and logistics delays around the world, disrupting supply chains. We are in an age of uncertainty, in which the future is hard to predict. Companies need to build resilient supply chains while at the same time being environmentally conscious, working toward the goal of carbon neutrality. That is why Toshiba Digital Solutions has launched Supply Chain Platform. This supply chain platform connects companies within supply chains, enabling them to visualize and effectively use data in order to provide new value by promoting digitalization and leveraging data services. Let's look at just what Supply Chain Platform is, what benefits it offers, and what its future holds.

Companies are being called on to make their supply chains more resilient and transparent

Natural disasters such as earthquakes and heavy rains. Geopolitical risks and trade friction. Cyber-attacks targeting companies and critical industrial infrastructure. These and other factors are causing disruptions to supply chains.

The COVID-19 pandemic of the past few years has highlighted the risks posed to business continuity by personnel shortages, material shortages, logistics delays, and the like. For example, in the manufacturing industry, running out of just one component of completed products will bring production to a halt. Indeed, due to the recent semiconductor shortage, manufacturing plants that built products such as computers and automobiles were forced to temporarily downscale or suspend production.

At the same time, decarbonization efforts are being accelerated in order to combat the environmental problems caused by global warming. Many countries are working to achieve carbon neutrality, reaching net zero emissions of greenhouse gasses such as carbon dioxide (CO2) by the year 2050. Studies are being carried out from the perspective of achieving carbon neutrality on a global scale, not just in one's own country. Companies are being called on to reduce not only the greenhouse gas emissions of their own production activities, but also those of their supply chains, from upstream to downstream. Furthermore, the rise of ESG (environmental, social, and governance) investment is also making it important for companies to act responsibly by implementing carbon neutrality measures and disclosing information about these activities to stakeholders.

For many companies in the manufacturing industry, ensuring the resilience and transparency of their entire supply chains in the midst of this unpredictable business environment has become a pressing issue. They must coordinate not only with their primary suppliers, with whom they do business directly, but also with their secondary, tertiary, and other suppliers.

A strategic procurement solution developed based on Toshiba's own issues and expertise

Toshiba Digital Solutions is working to address these customer issues through its digital evolution (DE) and digital transformation (DX) activities.

DE is a Toshiba term that refers to achieving operational objectives such as process improvements and cost reductions by applying digital technologies to existing value chains, optimizing them and making them more efficient. Information such as data gathered through DE and various business models is aggregated and used to create a platform that connects companies and diverse services to produce new value. This is Toshiba's approach to supply chain DX.

We are devoted to ongoing DE, and we will continue to flexibly respond to changes in the business environment, refining our DX so that it can provide greater value to the market.

Let's look at some of our DE and DX initiatives that support our customers' supply chains.

Strategic Procurement Solution is our DE strategic procurement solution, which we have been offering since the year 2000*. Strategic Procurement Solution was based on DE tools developed for refining Toshiba's own procurement operations. It is being used by many companies, both inside Japan and overseas, such as buyers in manufacturing industries such as the precision device, automobile component, and process industries, and by the suppliers that work with them. The companies that have used Strategic Procurement Solution have praised it effusively.
* This includes solutions that were predecessors to Strategic Procurement Solution

Strategic Procurement Solution is used as a communication platform for buyers, enabling the sharing of various information between them and their suppliers. It is also a solution that supports strategic procurement activities by leveraging the information that is accumulated by the platform. Users can select the functions they need, such as electronic quotation functions that aid in cost rationalization by taking into consideration component cost structures, or business continuity plan (BCP) management functions for reducing procurement risk by rapidly assessing the impact of disasters when they occur.

DX is achieved by combining and analyzing the procurement-related big data accumulated in Strategic Procurement Solution with information such as data regarding procured material shipping. The goal is to make the entire supply chain more resilient and sophisticated, ensure transparency, and create new value that contributes to the addressing of social issues such as carbon neutrality.

DX using a platform for "connecting," "visualizing," and "spreading"

Until now, major corporate buyers have managed their supply chains by managing suppliers individually. When managing supply chains using this tree structure, which extends from upstream to downstream, the exchange of information is compartmentalized, with each company only sharing information with the companies it deals with directly. Because of this, for example, calculating the total CO2 emissions for an entire supply chain requires the buyer to ask its primary suppliers to conduct their own studies. The primary suppliers must then ask their secondary suppliers, who in turn ask their suppliers, in a cascading sequence. Each supplier may also be receiving inquiries from multiple buyers, and will have to respond to each of these inquiries.

That is why we have developed a networked supply chain platform that connects companies. The constituent companies in the supply chain use this platform to share and relay information. In the event of a disaster, for example, companies within the supply chain can share information, which rapidly reaches other related parties on the platform. If companies receive inquiries from multiple buyers, such as supplier management-related requests or requests to investigate CO2 emissions, the suppliers can respond to all of these inquiries at once simply by sharing information. Of course, it is important that each company on the platform be able to control which companies they share information with and what information they share with them (Fig. 1).

Our goal was to provide companies with this kind of information-sharing space in the form of an open platform that supports their business activities by enabling them to effectively utilize diverse services and accrued data. This will make entire supply chains more resilient and create new value. It is a platform that connects companies, visualizing various information and situations, and spreading the utilization of data. By doing so, it frees major companies from the need to handle all supply chain management in-house, on their own. We launched this Supply Chain Platform in October 2022 (Fig. 2).

With Supply Chain Platform, companies connect on the same level and urge the unconnected companies they work with to connect as well, forming a supply chain network. Each company on the platform can share and relay information of their own accord. This promotes greater communication between companies, and the information collected from companies on the platform makes it possible to visualize the situation within the supply chain.

We are also coordinating with various partners to provide companies that use Supply Chain Platform with various services that support their business activities. Let's look at three of the services that are already being provided through Supply Chain Platform.

* CO2 visualization service
We have achieved this service through a partnership with Zeroboard, Inc., which provides the zeroboard cloud service for calculating and visualizing greenhouse gas emissions. Companies that join Supply Chain Platform can use this service to visualize their own CO2 emissions and the emissions of their entire supply chain, compare them with those of other companies, and share them with others.

* Matching service
We are partnering with Linkers Co., Ltd. to provide a partner-matching support service aligned with the objectives of the manufacturing industry. For example, when companies want to search for low carbon emissions materials to aid with their carbon neutrality efforts, or when they want to change from using metal to using plastic in order to make their products more lightweight and reduce costs, this service helps them search for and investigate new partners with the materials, technologies, and expertise they need.

* Online comprehensive general liability insurance
We are able to offer this service thanks to our partnership with Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Company, Limited. The service enables users to take out comprehensive general liability insurance policies tailored to the manufacturing industry online, via Supply Chain Platform. In manufacturing business activities, it is widely known that what is important is not simply the pursuit of efficiency in day-to-day production activities, but also the creation of a system that can maintain the same level of productivity even in an emergency situation. Companies can use this service to do everything from getting insurance premium estimates to signing up for insurance policies online, more seamlessly than in the typical policy contracting process.


We are also working with various other partners to expand the range of business support services offered by the Supply Chain Platform, such as using weather and disaster information to automatically issue disaster alerts and investigate the impact of disasters.

Spreading the cycle of value generation and ecosystem through Supply Chain Platform

All kinds of information are actively shared on the Supply Chain Platform, and as this information is accrued, we are looking at ways to use the information in valuable services that will serve as assets for users. The data that is accumulated in Supply Chain Platform can be used to create new value through analysis services that help improve operational efficiency, insurance services, and other financial services." We will continue to build partnerships with a wide range of companies to develop new data services that will expand the scope of data usage across company lines.

Service providers and service users will both enjoy the benefits of this cycle of value generation as communication between companies produces raw data for entire supply chains, and this accumulated data is used to provide services with added value. This has the potential to create an even larger open ecosystem based on Supply Chain Platform.

In the future, we want to combine these services with quantum transformation (QX) to instantly perform analyses and simulations of complex supply chain networks, enabling real-time usage of high precision data.

Companies using the Supply Chain Platform connect to each other, actively sharing and relaying information to visualize conditions across entire supply chains, use services that support their business activities, and effectively leverage accumulated data. The platform helps meet the manufacturing industry's needs for more resilient, sophisticated, and transparent supply chains.

Toshiba Digital Solutions will continue to identify the challenges and needs of the manufacturing industry, continuously developing supply chain-related services together with partners so that it can provide new value to its many customers.

  • The corporate names, organization names, job titles and other names and titles appearing in this article are those as of November 2022.
  • Other company names and product names mentioned herein may be trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.
  • Our Supply Chain Platform is not currently available for purchase outside Japan.