A supply chain that operates optimally is imperative to surviving today’s logistics environment. A supply chain that runs efficiently means that raw materials and final products flow smoothly from the manufacturer to the customer. Companies that focus on their supply chain management find they are able to maximize the customer experience and have a competitive advantage over other companies.
Streamlining the supply chain leads to benefits such as revenue growth, less inventory holdings, and lower costs.
Here are 10 ways to streamline your supply chain:
1. Analyze Your Current Process. The first step in streamlining your supply chain is to evaluate your current state. What is your company doing now that is working? What is not working? Companies should conduct a high-level business review to uncover issues and bottlenecks. The process of integrating supply chains can determine where problems are occurring along the chain, so action can be taken. This will create a baseline from which to set goals and measure performance against those goals.
2. Improve Communication. Lines of communication, both external and internal, should be kept open so information flows freely along the supply chain. Better communication results in less downtime, confusion, and errors so there is better efficiency. Internally, better communication allows customer service departments to do what they do best—enhance the customer experience.
3. Evaluate Your Sourcing Partners. The ideal partners offer high quality, competitive pricing, and short lead times. It might be difficult to find a supplier that provides all three so decide which of the three factors will make the biggest impact on your business. For example, if quality is most important, find a supplier that has a reputation for producing high quality.
4. Think About Factory-Direct Manufacturing. Communicating with manufacturers directly allows them to understand what you need from them and your long-term goals. The biggest benefit is that factory direct methods yield strong margins. If you do go this route, make sure you get domestic intellectual property (IP) protection from working with an international manufacturer.
5. Take Advantage of Economies of Scale. Is it possible to decrease shipping costs without sacrificing shipping speeds? Working with a 3PL like Red Arrow Logistics can optimize your shipping operation without adding to delivery times. Since 3PL’s get a volume discount, they pay less for shipping and can pass these savings to you, the customer. They also have multiple fulfillment centers to reduce costs by shipping from a facility that is closer to the customer. The customer gets their shipment faster and you pay less for it.
6. Avoid Duplicate Data. Many businesses do not pay enough attention to the value of clean data. Duplicate data slows down networks and increases the time spent managing the data. A database administrator can purge records and simplify data entry and maintenance processes.
7. Add an Integration Layer. Every transaction usually touches several systems including sales forecasts, manufacturing resource planning systems, and financial components. Information needs to be shared by owners, customers, and suppliers. Data integration is usually done through uploads, manual updates, or spreadsheet uploads, but these can be time-consuming and open to errors. An integration layer allows information to move automatically and shared quickly.
8. Utilize Technology to Increase Visibility. Investment in technology is what sets one company apart from another. There are affordable technology updates that can increase real-time visibility along the supply chain. For example, a warehouse management system (WMS) offers transparency at every point along the supply chain to ensure materials are flowing efficiently. A WMS tracks inventory, receiving, shipping, yard, and dock management, and reporting.
9. Consider Blockchain. Blockchain increases visibility along the supply chain by keeping a digital record for each transaction that can be identified, stored, and shared. It tracks deliveries, receipt of goods, contracts, and accounts payable so information is easy to find. Companies performing due diligence will find this fine a superior technology.
10. Automate Through AI. Doing processes, any processes by hand is simply wasting time that could be spent more efficiently. Automation through artificial intelligence (AI) gives an advantage over those not using it. It can run spend analysis reports at any point during sourcing and provide demand breakdowns, market analysis, and supplier performance analysis. For example, invoices can be automatically generated and sent from the supplier’s system and send to the purchaser’s finance department.
Choose a Reliable 3PL Partner
These solutions can all help to optimize your supply chain but working with a 3PL like Red Arrow can put your company one step ahead of the competition. We can help streamline your supply chain so you can respond faster to market changes while boosting operational efficiency.
Your Trusted Partner
At Red Arrow Logistics, we provide expertise and white glove customer service with fast-growing, complex, and high-value supply chains. As the next-generation model of logistics companies, we offer tailored transportation and logistics solutions — from single shipments to complex over-dimensional and international orders.
Red Arrow offers the scale and scope of services including air, ocean, and ground transportation to meet the budget and schedule requirements of the largest and smallest companies alike. If we can be of assistance, please email us at email@example.com or give us a call at 425-747-7914.