How to Strengthen Supply Chain!

Strengthen Supply Chain

The need to strengthen supply chain cannot be overstated; it’s vital for efficiency, profitability, and reputability against competitors. 

However, the chain must be streamlined to avoid wasting time and money. This means making sure every aspect of the process is working as it should, including logistics and operations, suppliers, and the internal team.

Evaluate your current supply chain

Conducting frequent supply chain audits will allow you to monitor your processes to pursue growth. You can use the data produced from analytics reporting to monitor things such as inventory, shipments, and fulfilment accuracy.

These figures may also demonstrate the reliability of various suppliers in your chain, allowing you to make sure you’re working with the best at every stage of the process. By having a grasp of the latest information, you can stay compliant with all your legal requirements to remain transparent.

Historically, there may have been ample time to fulfill orders. Nowadays, customers expect a much quicker turnaround. Orders come through more often and expectations are high. This means you may lose custom to your competitors if you can’t meet demand. To do this, you have to anticipate orders, rather than respond to those in the process of being fulfilled.

Increase supply chain visibility

In many sectors, trade is influenced by external factors, so you need to be able to react to changing markets or unexpected events. If working knowledge of your supply chain isn’t thorough and up to date, you may struggle to action quick decisions. It’s therefore crucial that you keep everything under high visibility with regular review. Doing so means you’ll also be able to spot any inefficiencies before they spiral.

From a people point of view, you need to create good relationships with suppliers along each stage of the line. This requires shared reporting systems and excellent communication. Make sure every major and minor manager along the chain has access to your personal business cards that display your contact details clearly. This way, 

Automate where possible

Managing the details and figures in your supply chain is a convoluted and difficult procedure, which only gets more involved the bigger the business or the more your operation grows. 

Trying to monitor, produce, and process everything manually is quite a cumbersome method, although it may be traditional. Worse still, on the rare occasions you keep hand-written records, this can be detrimental to your ability to track your operations consistently. Likewise, you may find it negatively impacts accuracy to perform tasks one by one, leading to errors. 

Take advantage of the latest technology as a more sophisticated method of automating processes, thereby reducing the risk of human error. After all, one small mistake may have a ripple effect that impacts your entire chain, operations, and cash flow. As your business expands, you’ll find automation crucial to maintaining proficiency and quality.

 There are many benefits to automating your supply chain:

  • Optimise employee resources: Things like data entry, in particular, can be a serious drain on time. When you reduce the amount of time your employees need to spend at multiple points in the chain, you free up their time for more advanced tasks. 
  • Reduce communication time: Having a single source of truth makes your accounts more efficient by keeping everything clear, transparent, and synchronised. This means you won’t need to spend as much time soliciting, chasing, and confirming information.
  • Improve customer experience: This may make the difference between you and your competitors: if your employees are able to spend their time perfecting your offering, you’re likely to retain customers with a smoother service.
  • Better health and safety: Using machinery to reduce or support manual labour in a warehouse can have a positive impact on health and safety protocols. As well as being quicker, incidents will be fewer. 
  • Stay relevant: By using the latest in technological developments, you stand the best chance of remaining competitive. Currently, virtual reality (VR) is finding its way beyond gaming and into the warehouse environment. The latest VR headsets can show an employee the location of an item and track how long it takes to go between products. You can later use this data to monitor efficiency.

Go green

With so much awareness of climate change and environmental issues, many customers are making known their expectations for suppliers to endorse greener processes. In Europe, around 51% of potential customers report a reluctance or refusal to purchase goods in packaging that knowingly damages the environment.

Consequently, it makes sense that reducing your carbon footprint will keep you reputable and competitive. Opting for eco-friendly materials in packing and offering carbon offset options demonstrates that you take a global view of your supply chain and invest in what your customers care about. 

As biodegradable options may be more expensive, you can offer these at a premium. This way, offering environmentally friendly packaging has the potential to be profitable as well as forward-thinking.

Strengthen Supply Chain article and permission to publish here provided by Bronwyn Linkhorn. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on October 25, 2022.