Supply chains operate with common goals — to move goods or services from production to end user.
But drill down a bit — in this case, literally — and the challenges in managing a supply chain differ across verticals.
To that end, Achilles Information, a supply chain risk and performance management firm based in the United Kingdom, said earlier this month that it has launched an online supplier network for the oil and gas industry.
The company said the network, Oil and Gas Europe, ties together 6,000 suppliers and 148 buyers into what it dubbed a single supply chain spanning the U.K., Europe and the Nordics.
Among the features of the network, data analytics help boost procurement activities and are linked to 20 years of validated information that is, in turn, held by Achilles.
Kevin Alexander, director of procurement solutions at Achilles, told PYMNTS in a written exchange that, in general, online supplier platforms are trying to help resolve procurement/supply chain challenges in the energy sector, “many of which are not new at all” and may be similar to challenges found in other asset intensive, project and capex supply chains.
But in some respects, and beyond the generalities, oil and gas supply chains do have distinct trends in place, he said, such as regional variations in the nature of demand. In one example, in the North Sea, decommissioning is emerging as a sector/service, which Alexander said has its own service requirements from suppliers. In other areas, acquisition activity means the operational landscape is changing.
He said that in seeking to provide a range of services, Achilles pools resources across two existing communities known as FPAL and JQS, and that “all supplier data is validated and the completed supplier profiles are accompanied by additional tools” that include performance feedback and audits.
Alexander contended the Achilles network addresses current challenges in the supply chain, namely firms’ visibility and access to suppliers outside their own immediate borders. In addition, he said, the Oil and Gas Europe analytics dashboard “provides access to data that provides effective and — most importantly — actionable insights.
Achilles is ISO27001 certified and has a rigorous data processing and GDPR policy in place, he said. In terms of data security for the Oil and Gas Europe service, he added, “for individuals to access the service, they need to be member of an organization that is a member of the Achilles FPAL or JQS services (Oil and Gas Europe is accessible via those platforms). All Buyer and Supplier Benchmarking reports produced by Achilles are confidential to the buyer or supplier.”
Asked by PYMNTS about the compliance issues that are in place that can be tackled through a platform model, Alexander noted that “relative to other sectors, there is huge variation in specification requirements across the sector, and I think there is still more the industry could do to align and simplify across different categories and geographies.” He pointed to the IOGP Audit protocol that has been introduced alongside Oil and Gas Europe as one offering that helps firms comply with industry standards.
“In terms of automation,” of at least some functions, Alexander said, “there are obvious benefits that a platform can bring in terms of making data widely and transparently available for all participants. There are also many practical benefits that a platform can bring, which range from events, scheduling and subscription management, all the way through to APIs and data feeds to buyers that can provide an instantaneous signal when compliance lapses.”