Key capabilities for improving supply chain management and avoiding disruptions

     

supply chain management and smarter commerceSupply chains are more complex than ever before, comprising numerous components and extending into foreign territories with greater frequency. In the global economy, a supply line disruption can have far-reaching consequences, causing delays across the entire network. When these delays occur, businesses will be unable to deliver goods and services to their clients or customers, resulting in a significant loss of revenue.

Because of the scope and complexity of supply chain operations, it can be extremely challenging for warehouse managers and enterprise leaders to continually monitor shipments and product movements to great effect. In order to prevent costly service disruptions from occurring, businesses should look to bolster their supply chain management capabilities.

According to recent survey conducted by the Business Continuity Institute, performance issues are a regular occurrence on the supply chain. After surveying more than 500 industry professionals from across the globe, researchers found that three-quarters of the participants reported experiencing at least one disruptive incident with their supply chain operations.

A range of factors were cited as culprits for these events, including:

  • IT or telecom outages
  • Inclement weather
  • Failure of service provision efforts
  • Cyberattacks
  • Transportation delays and disruptions
  • Loss of key personnel

Causing further problems for supply chain operators was a widespread lack of visibility across the entire network. Seventy-five percent of survey respondents said that they did not have the oversight needed to see the full extent of these disruptions. As noted by BCI technical director Lyndon Bird, this glaring operational flaw needs to be addressed in order to strengthen supply lines and improve resiliency.

"This lack of visibility demonstrates just why it is important for businesses to start managing their supply chain more effectively," Bird said, according to Supply Management. "The supply chain can be complex and is only as strong as its weakest link, so with more than four-tenths of disruptions occurring below the tier one supplier, businesses must ensure that all those down the chain have systems in place to deal with disruptions."

Supply chain integration tools alleviate concerns
Investing in a comprehensive supply chain management software package can provide businesses with the visibility and oversight needed to effectively manage risks and respond to circumstances that could lead to delays. With supply chains as complex as they are, a single disruption could affect the entire network. For instance, if a supplier is unable to deliver materials needed to produce a particular good, managers need to identify that issue as soon as it develops so they can begin seeking out a temporary replacement. The earlier company officials receive a heads up about potential operational delays, the sooner they can put the wheels into motion and find alternative solutions.

Stay on the ball with inventory management
A key asset that any sophisticated organization should have in its arsenal is inventory management software. Many operational costs can be traced back to ineffective inventory count practices, such as investing in more wares than needed to fill client requests or simply losing track of entire shipments.

With a reliable inventory management solution, business leaders can more readily track their product movements and ensure that shipments are arriving at their destinations as expected. If certain legs of the supply chain have repeatedly demonstrated an inability to transport wares within the allotted time frame, managers can quickly identify these pain points and take steps to correct them. This technology will also help organizations monitor inventory movements down to the individual crate or pallet, allowing them to track down missing shipments before they are lost for good.

In addition, executives could leverage these tools to trace back the deliveries of certain items that may be subject to a recall. Many businesses have trouble accurately locating potentially compromised products without the assistance of a sophisticated inventory management solution, leading to significant problems when they need to comply with a recall order.

Manufacturing.net contributors Lindsay Themea and Swapan Nag urged manufacturers to employ real-time inventory management tools to streamline their operations and reduce unnecessary costs. By watching product movements as they occur, C-level officers can get a more accurate view of not only how many total units they need to meet demand, but how quickly inventory needs to be replenished. This feature allows companies to better manage their available resources.

"With a real-time inventory reporting auto manufacturers could easily identify a sales trends in each of their key markets, and immediately adjust their production schedules to customize models for dealers in specific markets," the source stated. "This also helps manufacturers decrease under-performing products, or shipping goods to places where they are not performing well."

Keep the line moving with warehouse management software
One area in which many supply chain operations could stand to improve is on the warehouse floor. Far too many organizations take a hands off approach to the management of their warehouses, preferring to take a "big picture" view at the expense of granular oversight. Delays within the warehouse can slow the supply line down to a crawl, driving the need for software solutions that can improve visibility and accountability. With a high-quality warehouse management software tool, business leaders can ensure every component within the supply chain is running optimally.

The many benefits of this technology include:

  • Reduce the amount of time need to pick orders and fulfill client requests
  • Improve the accuracy of inventory orders, leading to a more satisfied customer base
  • Increase the turnover rate of inventory with more efficient processing capabilities

As businesses continue to grow and expand the reach of their operations, their supply chains will only continue to increase in size and complexity. Ensuring that these twisting networks continue running efficiently and disruption-free will be extremely difficult without the visibility and oversight needed to monitor each component of the supply line.

A comprehensive suite of supply chain management software solutions can be immensely beneficial to providing these capabilities and helping officials mitigate risks, reduce unnecessary costs and streamline processes. When running a supply chain operation, business leaders must be certain they have the capacity to keep a watchful eye over every aspect of their organization, from both a holistic and granular level. A single disruption within these environments can have far-reaching consequences for the business, so having total visibility over the entire network is an operational imperative.

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An integrated supply chain is crucial to providing a premier customer experience: