Experts discuss key supply chain trends


MP900402960The modern business world relies heavily on supply chain management solutions and best practices to keep operations that are spread out across multiple locations and countries running smoothly. As industries are subject to regulations and compliance standards, supply chains must stay abreast of the latest trends and rules governing practices to avoid costly fines.

Supply chain management solutions enable businesses to keep track of operations and changes in all branches while ensuring compliance with a number of evolving standards in different locations and markets. This capability saves companies time and money, while protecting operations from penalties and boosting overall efficiency.

In a recent discussion hosted by Supply Chain Digest, a number of industry experts shared their insights on what technologies and solutions are being leveraged to improve productivity and enhance growth industry-wide. The expert panel addressed growing trends in the industry and new insights they have gained throughout their many years of experience.

Key trends
Karin Bursa, supply chain expert, explained modern supply chains are reporting renewed focus on demand planning and market segmentation. Companies are looking to improve their forecast accuracy at each level of production and distribution, leveraging supply chain management technology to connect disjointed operations with fluid communications and accessibility. Teams are looking to understand market forecasts through pivotal key performance indicators, driving value throughout the supply chain.

"Analysts have discussed and we have seen how a 5 percent improvement in forecast accuracy can drive double digit improvements in service levels virtually for free," Bursa said.

David Johnston, senior vice president of a supply chain provider, explained how supply chain segmentation creates multiple virtual supply chains, each developing tailored end-to-end processes. These activities support different aspects of the business, but must still work as a cohesive component of the overall model.

"Companies are tailoring their demand management process, production methods, inventory strategies, distribution paths and transportation modes to the distinct characteristics of the products, customer and channels that they serve," Johnston said.

According to Lisa Kustra, a planning expert, demand classification and statistical forecasting is growing in importance for supply chains, particularly companies looking to reduce staff while enhancing productivity. Demand classification helps planners understand high priority items by highlighting high volume and high variability items quickly on exception reports. The data generated from demand classification shows which products should be inspected and improved upon and which are cleared for continued production.