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Regular Industry Development Updates, Opinions and Talking Points relating to Manufacturing, the Supply Chain and Logistics.

5 Steps to Improve Your Business’s Supply Chain

30-Apr-2018
5 Steps to Improve Your Business’s Supply Chain
The complexity of supply chains is increasing with each passing day and exhibits more uncertainty, risk and volatility than the past. Some challenges every supply chain faces is fluctuating customer demands, lack of visibility and collaboration amongst various teams across the supply chain.

A high performing supply chain assures of increased business profits due to quicker client deliveries, improved inventory and shorter supply chain management. It prevents decaying of the products and improves the financial health of the company. Let us look at 5 stages to optimize supply chain management, streamline various processes associated with it and increase its overall performance.

1. Planning
This involves a wide range of activities. You must first decide on your operations strategy— whether to manufacture a product or component or buy it from a supplier. While planning, you must ensure that you align your supply chain strategies to business strategies. Demand forecasting is another thing to consider at this stage. While it is next to impossible to accurately predict what the customer would want in the future and how the demand can fluctuate, it is important to be able to forecast future demand of any product you are selling. Hone the forecast ability as it can be the differentiating factor between successfully rolling out a product or suffering a dent in the brand image due to product shortage. Plan for surges in demand and periods of lull. Planning and forecasting properly will help in handling demand surges in a better way and help in adding and retaining customers. Meticulous planning skills can assure that you can deliver the goods in a timely manner, whenever and wherever the customers want.

2. Procurement
Once the planning is done, you need to procure the raw materials and components for your product. Procurement refers to the acquisition of goods and services at the best possible price, at the right time, in the right quantity. You need to work with the inventory team to ensure that the procured materials are tracked and monitored properly. Use the tracking software to do so as it is will help you identify the quantity of inventory you have along with its location, available raw materials, etc. Encourage your employees to log all the information pertaining to procurement and inventory accurately and regularly. Create routine inventory assessments to help you track the inventory and use relevant technology to help you achieve high efficiency, like using industrial weighing scales to better the weighing process. When you use outdated weighing techniques, you could be compromising the accuracy and efficiency. When you incorporate the latest weighing systems, you get seamless weighing operations and improved productivity and efficiency.

3. Production
This stage deals with scheduling of production activities, product testing, packing and release. You must manage the rules for performance, store all the necessary data and maintain regulatory compliance. Standardizing all the processes would lead to a successful supply chain. Not only will it increase the efficiency but also help you save time and money. Since you would be having a standardized system of tools, the accuracy will increase, miscommunication will reduce and teamwork would be strengthened.

Implement lean practices as well to ensure that the supply chain doesn't run rich and wasteful. When you focus on having continuous improvements, you can identify various opportunities to reduce waste and streamline work. Lean methods also help in reducing overhead and identify ways to make and package products better, which leads to less breakage and a lowered rate of returns.

4. Deliver
Delivering the product comes next. It comprises all the steps that include processing customer inquiries, selecting distribution strategies and transportation options. It is critical to manage the warehousing as well as inventory efficiently. Consider route planning and see if changing the route or mode of shipments can be more benefitting than the current strategies. This stage also includes warranty or trial period, receiving invoices and payments from the customer or retail sites, and managing the import and export requirements for the finished product.

5. Return
A supply chain strategy can be called successful if it has an efficient returns management system. Manage the returned defective products, identify its damaged condition, authorize the returns, schedule the shipments of the products, replace defective products and/or provide refunds. Better return management will also reduce waste and identify the factors that are consistent with product problems. Implement industrial weighing scales to weigh and track the returned products. Returns also include “end-of-life” products which refers to products that are at the end of their shelf life and those which are not viable for marketing, selling, or promoting.

Following these five essential stages meticulously will ensure a healthier, faster and more productive supply chain. Which means you get to enjoy more profits and a stellar reputation.

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