Apple imparts surprising supply chain lesson


chainIt is no secret in the enterprise world that Apple has a strong supply process. It has been granted top supply chain honors several times, meaning that experts can look to the company for inspiration in their own supply chain management efforts.

EBN's Bolaji Ojo recently reported a surprising finding from the advanced Apple logistics organization. The tech giant did not achieve its market dominance through becoming complex and adding more processes. It is successful because its processes are simple.

Learning to slim down

Ojo found that Apple has become successful in part by making sure its product line is laser-focused. It sells a few devices, each with a specific purpose and all united by things such as general construction and design methodology. Everything Apple makes can be built using similar factory setups and parts imported from the same places. While Ojo cautioned that such a setup could be more susceptible to natural disaster than other companies' processes, he also stated that even widely spread electronics supply chains are liable to disruption if one part supplier is prevented from shipping.

Understanding risks is another of the virtues Ojo ascribes to Apple supply leaders. He stated that the firm is extremely proactive in inspecting and overseeing possible disruption risks in its system. Supply chain bosses realize the effects that their decisions have had on the organization and have taken steps to make sure that risks are manageable.

A model apart

Those hoping to emulate Apple should know that its strategies and structure are far from normal. Logistics Viewpoints' Steve Banker recently outlined the list of differences from the norm and whether these come across as strengths or weaknesses. Some of the weapons in Apple's arsenal, for example, are only available to big companies. It is indeed an advantage when the firm can buy massive supplies of flash memory and dent rivals while helping itself but, as Banker indicated, that is not a widely-available tactic.

Another of Apple's advantages that others may wish to copy but be unable to is its ability to easily drum up demand for its new devices. Baker pointed out that when a new piece of Apple hardware emerges, the firm never has to estimate or wonder what the initial demand will be. It is nearly given that desire for the product will match whatever manufacturing and shipping can muster.

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