Supply chains are becoming increasingly complex so simplifying them can be a complicated matter. In an attempt to get back to supply chain basics, companies need to scrutinise their processes, from procurement through to storage and shipping.
Here are five quick solutions for simplifying supply chains:
Clear the clutter
With the rapid rise in our ability to collect information, data saturation is everywhere. Sure, data is king when it comes to helping forecast future demand and inventory stock needs but the ability to collect data is not always supported by the ability to filter and manage that data correctly.
Any data collected and held needs to be relevant to the business. Too much data without the infrastructure in place to manage it suggests that companies are collecting data that has little relevance or no meaningful application.
The proper approach is to start with the business objectives and the key questions you want to be answered so you can then seek out the relevant data. Managers need to rid themselves of unnecessary information and establish key performance indicators to facilitate the process of eliminating unnecessary information that is only useful to a few people in the company.
Map out your supply chains to get a sense of how products move. By visually grasping the process flows, you gain an understanding of what information supports these processes and remove unnecessary steps and paperwork to help simplify supply chain activities.
Minimise manual operations
Service delivery automation reduces disruption and offers more cost-effective benefits to simplifying supply chains, including increased productivity and reliability. Automated operations ensure that tasks are not forgotten or run out of sequence, guaranteeing that all activities are successfully performed, that the input data is correct and that any special processing is completed.
By creating an automated or timed service you can reduce the risk of parts and components being lost or misplaced during delivery. This activity will not only reduce the amount of traffic in warehouses but will also speed up processes.
Reduce costly and time-consuming manual handling by ensuring that your warehouse and production areas flow efficiently. For example, have materials receipted close to where they are required for production to improve the flow of work and store finished inventory stock close to dispatch for ease and speed of shipping.
The increased expectations of customers for timely and accurate order fulfilment means that supply chains need to be tightly controlled. Technology solutions allow a greater level of automation and visibility to meet this need and it also helps to reduce clutter and minimise manual handling.
Wireless technology, for example, speeds communication and improves productivity and efficiency. Cloud solutions offer a slew of benefits and are a convenient and cost-effective way to organise and manage supply chain functions.
Leverage the right technology to optimise shipping via software systems that link shippers, supply chain partners and carriers. Connect with customers offering configurable choices and ease of use, enabling them to see where their freight is every step of the way.
Simplify supply chain tracking
A business needs visibility throughout the entire organisation to know with certainty where every piece of inventory stock is located at any given time. Technology makes it possible to know exactly when a delivery will be made, and this certainty makes it possible to adhere to precise manufacturing schedules.
Also, customers will avoid businesses that routinely have out of stock inventory, shipping delays and errors. Therefore, consistent, predictable visibility within your supply chain will allow you to track parts orders, the global availability of individual parts and the location of inventory stock nearest to the customer. Supporting business to communicate faster and more efficiently with customers should issues arise that may affect order fulfilment and service delivery.
Whether you’re a new enterprise or looking at simplifying supply chains currently in play, it’s a good idea to get the logistics down first. There are numerous ways businesses can benefit from integrated and intelligent logistics technology.
As companies and consumers are both exposed to the influence of real-time shipment tracking, you need to implement supply chain technology that provides real-time visibility as well as operational controls from receiving to production, picking to inventory control, loading and shipping to end delivery.
Cloud-based inventory management software integrates with other cloud-based software to allow accurate and timely flow of data. This means that staff can smart decisions to support and expedite inventory receipt, routing and shipping.
Alternatively, companies of all sizes are increasingly relying upon third-party logistic providers to handle supply chain functions including transportation and access capacity. Providers may specialise in certain areas such as warehousing or transportation that allows organisations to reduce the workload of the business by using them as an extension of the supply chain.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.