Richard Martin, CEO at Requis, discusses the firm’s cutting-edge supply chain management platform that is revolutionising supply chain visibility, accessibility and efficiency for energy companies around the world.
What is the function of the Requis platform and how does it add value for both Worley and the wider, global energy sector?
Requis is a next generation supply chain platform (SCM) that redefines how the enterprise demand chain and supply chain integrate throughout project and asset lifecycles. It’s not about demand or supply, but rather about the value that is generated across both chains. In fact, they are not actually chains, but rather an integrated network of participants who engage through Requis services centered around industry-standard data sets including asset catalogues, inventory, surplus and 3D printing. Although the term ‘supply chain’ may continue to be used, Requis is more aptly referred to as a value network platform.
Services such as procurement, vendor management and catalogue management are completely reimagined and integrated with other services such as rapid sourcing, access to 3D printing and a global surplus marketplace. All these services and more are available to the entire network of vetted Requis participants, all from one, secure platform.
The synergies with Worley are immense and, selfishly, we cannot be more fortunate in having them as a strategic investor, a trusted partner and a lead customer. Worley’s industry leadership and credibility extend Requis’s reach by providing unprecedented access to resource, energy and chemical customers who have already begun to engage with Requis today.
In a general sense, what are the key drivers and aims of enhanced SCM in the energy sector?
When I played baseball, I remember asking my coach if I should work on my hitting, fielding or running, and his answer was: yes! My point is, there are a number of priorities thrown at supply chain professionals: reduced costs, increased agility, reduced cycle times, reduced waste, reduced surplus, etc. But, based on recent customer interaction, I’ll simply state efficiency as the key driver of an enhanced supply chain.
Efficiency is driving many changes and investments in the market, and having an effective approach to supply chains is growing in importance. Understanding the inventory of your own company before going out to market can have significant cost savings and creates a much more streamlined approach to stock management. For some of our customers, stock visibility is a huge benefit from using the Requis platform. This allows companies to keep an appropriate level of stock and manage their inventory effectively.
If I had to call out another it would be competitive differentiation. If you can manage your supply chain better than your competitor, that means you can do it faster, for a higher margin, with better quality. And in response to faster, higher and better, my coach would say: yes!
What are the biggest challenges facing effective supply chain management in the energy sector, and what steps can companies take to overcome them?
I believe there are two big challenges to effective SCM in the energy sector. The first is simply making sure it is a real priority. There can be many competing priorities for a business, but ensuring the supply chain is thought about and managed is key. This is something the industry is starting to recognise. Supply chain roles are increasingly growing in importance within organisations, with more and more taking up seats in management teams and meetings.
The second is the inherent disconnected nature of the energy demand chain and supply chain. I refer to this as the Amazon problem. Where do you go when you are looking for something or need to sell something? Think of the retail space before Amazon, or even eBay for that matter. This divided dynamic leads to inefficiency from procurement through management, disposition and finally scrapping. It has led to warehouses and yards full of surplus with limited visibility. This is where the Requis platform comes in.
By connecting the players in the supply chain to the same platform with standardised asset data and services, enterprises are opening themselves up to a whole new world. Enterprises can work with their existing suppliers in what we refer to as a Virtual Private Value Network (VPVN) and/or consider new suppliers, or consider supplier or operator surplus that is in the Requis Global Marketplace. They can even have visibility into their own surplus for reuse instead of buying assets they already own. They can compare prices, they can see how a supplier or customer is rated, they can use analytics to gain insights into their procurement or supplier, and can gain insights into their sales. The benefits are extensive and significant. None of this would be possible without a supply chain ecosystem comprised of a mesh of thousands of one to one relationships.
How have new technological innovations facilitated the development of solutions that enhance visibility and traceability across supply chains?
I believe the Requis platform is a great example of new technology innovation driving enhanced visibility and traceability across the entire supply chain and throughout the entire lifecycle. One of the underlying building blocks of the Requis platform are standardised asset records. Where industry standards exist, we will look to adopt them, where gaps exist, we will seek to contribute towards the establishment of standards. Our vision is to have that asset record created at birth and have this same asset record gather information throughout the lifecycle of an asset until end of life. This would incorporate other technologies such as IoT, for example, and it would ultimately be a great application of blockchain. The result is something I’d compare in North America to the CarFax: essentially allowing you to pull the entire history of a vehicle from its initial sales tracking - geographically, operationally and commercially - even though it has had many owners. Going a step further in the Requis platform, even the details of the transaction that led to the change of ownership of an asset are fully auditable.
What do you view as the most promising emergent technologies for improved supply chain management in the energy sector?
When I think about the potential for an emerging technology, I consider the value of how the technology can optimally be applied, tempered with the probability of that scenario materialising. Flying cars had tremendous promise in the 50s. Separately, I think it’s a mistake to think of these independently or in silos, rather than think of what application or solution holds the most promise and accept that it will incorporate a combination of these technologies. I’m more interested in the problem and resulting solution then a specific technology. That said, I’m a tech geek, I’m a great believer in automation, I like things to be automatic. In that regard I’m a fan of IoT, AI and data. Requis will play a significant role in gathering asset lifecycle data and using that data to ensure enterprises are achieving a maximum return on assets by enabling them to follow the path of highest economic return.
How do energy customers, both professional and commercial, stand to benefit from increased sustainability and ethical practices across energy sector supply chains?
I think the best way to approach the question of sustainability is by considering the counter argument. By definition something non-sustainable is doomed to end, and as a result, sustainability seems like the only viable path. Attitudes are changing across the industry towards sustainability, reducing waste and elongating the life of assets and components. This new way of thinking is impacting the supply chain. For me, it’s less of a focus on circular economy or linear economy but more on how we can establish a high-visibility supply network that creates economic incentive for the participant to adopt new, sustainable behaviours.
Looking forward, how can powerful SCM platforms enable energy companies to adapt to legislative changes around the world pertaining to reduced reliance on fossil fuels?
I believe reducing reliance on fossil fuels is one of those topics that everybody nods to in agreement, but the real challenge is achieving that within other political constraints such as providing reasonable energy costs, with safe energy alternatives. Nuclear, for example, is clean and inexpensive but carries a perceived safety risk that eliminates it as an option in many countries. A platform like Requis can help by making the supply chain more efficient, driving the reduction and reuse of surplus assets globally. It can connect non-fossil fuel participants in a new value network that drives the deployment and adoption of alternative energy assets. This new value network could circumvent existing inhibitors and enable a more direct system of subsidies and incentives to reach a critical mass of clean energy production. This is an important topic, and the Requis team is motivated to help in any way we can.