The supply chain can be considered the heart of a business. The raw materials used for production are obtained through the supply chain. Deliveries of finished products to customers and end-users also go through the supply chain. The supply chain is also that part of the business in which suppliers and providers transact with the internal teams and processes, and can thus have an impact on its efficiency and productivity. It’s the process that moves business capital from procurement, then production, sales, and then on to delivery and revenue generation.
There are quite a number of opportunities to further improve the efficiency of supply chain networks in various types of business operations. To pinpoint those areas of improvement, business owners should take a close look at their data reports to identify the gaps in their processes. In financial management, for instance, you can pay less in fees as a global business by using some of the alternative points of sale (POS) software applications and payment facilities currently offered in the market.
Here are four ways in which you can improve your company’s supply chain efficiency.
1. Enhance Visibility And Visualization
One of the most important things to consider when improving your supply chain’s efficiency is to increase the visibility and visualization of your supply chain. Creating a visual representation of your supply chain logistics and processes will allow your teams to visualize exactly where your products are headed. This would also help them identify areas that might be running into some issues or in need of fine-tuning.
For example, a beverage company can use visualization software to track the status and location of raw materials which are headed for delivery to the production plant. In the production process itself, the team can monitor the plant’s output to see if regular quotas are being met.
When the products are finished, the company can use visualization to monitor the fulfillment of orders for later marketing purposes. They can also use visualization software to track the location of delivery trucks and vans and optimize delivery by coming up with better truck fleet dispatching and routing workflows. They can even find out if there would be ways to make use of the backload by instructing trucks to pick up raw materials or other supply items before returning to the warehouse. This will result in further improvement of the cost and time it takes to transport raw materials and deliver finished products.
2. Automate Your Workflow Tasks
Another way to improve your supply chain efficiency is to automate repetitive tasks and duplication processes. Automation also helps reduce the number of workers needed for the business to operate and work hours for orders processing.
For example, in a knowledge production firm, some of the work done by editors can be automated with the use of digital tools designed to detect grammar and spelling errors. With further advancements, AI-based applications could be used as substitutes for human editors handling more complex tasks. This would enable companies to reduce idle time, achieve greater efficiency, and save on operational expenses.
The use of automation would also help attain uniform standards in workflows and speed of processes. For example, the invoice, delivery labels, and shipment bar codes of an online store are automatically printed once a purchase is made through an eCommerce platform. An application linked to the platform then sends a message to the fulfillment center to schedule the package for pick-up by the forwarding team. The only task that would have to be handled manually is putting the order label on the package.
3. Automate Your Warehouse Operations
Warehouse handling and operations could greatly benefit from automation, as software and robotic equipment can be used to handle most inventory-related tasks. For instance, you can use either bar codes or radio frequency identification (RFID) to identify, mark, and locate a specific box or product. If a product has to be retrieved, robotic mobile pallets and retrievers could go to the shelf where the item is located. It would then reach for the item and place it in its cargo hold.
This kind of warehouse management technology is already being used in the warehouses owned by some of the largest eCommerce platforms. In fact, more advanced systems can even place an order for replacement stock as soon as the inventory stock is retrieved by robots.
4. Use Analytics To Continuously Improve
Another move that would immensely improve your supply chain efficiency would be applying analytics in studying your supply chain. Analytics will help you come up with an objective evaluation of how efficient your business operations are, making it easier to identify the gaps and bottlenecks in your supply chain and logistics processes.
In a production setting, management can use analytics to identify which specific tasks are taking up too much time. They can use analytics reports to evaluate whether there are roles and functions which are just duplicating the output of other teams. They can use it to assess whether some layers in the production process do not directly create added value and do not contribute to the bottom line. They can also use data on the idle time of their workers to assess whether there are too many people in one department and consider cost-cutting measures.
You’d also be able to come up with strategies on how to continuously improve based on the findings in your analytics reports. The advantage of analytics is that it uses reported data instead of forecasted or predicted data. It’s not based on the educated estimates of production analysts even though such estimates may be based on established engineering formulas. Going back to the beverage production plant example, analytics can measure the time it took for production to finish from the time it received the orders.
There are a few key opportunities for companies to further improve the efficiency of their supply chain. If implemented properly, these supply chain enhancements not only help speed up production and reduce operational expenses but also improve customer/client relationships by being able to consistently deliver high-quality products and services.
I am Tristan who loves to ride and spend time with my jenny (horse) and my love Mark. After completing my graduation, I have been working as an accountant in a private firm in Cologne.