3 Ways to Leverage Supply Chain Visibility
Why Visibility is Important to the Supply Chain
Visibility is a necessary component for supply chain operational success. The supply chain includes all processes from the delivery of raw materials from suppliers to manufacturers, through the creation of the product, and delivery to the end user. The complexity of each process requires proper planning and organization to ensure accuracy. Visibility is all about the data – and how that data is used to accurately supply and deliver. This key part of supply chain operations supports functions such as transportation, fleet, and warehouse operations. Here are three ways in which visibility into operations supports supply chain processes:
#1 Visibility Reveals True Organizational Processes
Awareness of the organization’s processes is crucial for creating and maintaining an optimized supply chain. With the right systems in place, employees can be more productive because they can more easily track and locate materials needed for manufacturing, order fulfillment and planning. This data will also provide information that can be used to track and manage operational expenses and forecasting. Increased visibility ensures accurate planning and management of inventory and deliverables.
#2 Provides an Opportunity to Improve Performance Levels
A significant benefit of visibility into your supply chain is being able to identify areas that require improvement so workflows can be streamlined and become more efficient. This not only benefits your organization and employees, but it creates a higher level of satisfaction for your customers and gives suppliers an opportunity to better serve your business. This can take the form of providing materials in a timelier fashion or provide better pricing on material that can be ordered more frequently or in greater quantities, for example. Gaining insight on gaps in the process offers a better chance to improve and bring greater overall efficiency.
#3 Keeps Customers Satisfied and Loyal
One often overlooked benefit of supply chain visibility is the ability to keep customers satisfied and loyal to your organization. Supply chain visibility allows you to streamline processes and avoid bottlenecks, resulting in a faster, more efficient order fulfillment process. Without the ability to anticipate inventory levels to accurately process orders, or to pick and pack orders correctly to ensure on-time fulfillment, your team will spend more time backtracking and managing returns instead of correctly shipping orders out the door. The labor and expense needed to correct mis-ships can add up to thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars per year. Not to mention the impact it could have on repeat business.
Tools to Enhance Supply Chain Visibility
If your processes lack the visibility needed to improve worker productivity and increase order accuracy, it’s easier than you think to make changes. There are reliable systems (software and hardware) that integrate seamlessly with your ERP to help you reduce the load on your employees and deliver accurate data for greater consistency in operations.
Mobilize Your Workforce: Providing workers with handheld, hands-free or vehicle-mount computers or rugged tablets reduce the number of steps employees have to take in the process because they can view pick lists, enter data without re-locating to a workstation, view inventory levels and communicate with co-workers. It also provides them with up-to-the-minute information on item location, order requirements and more.
Drill Down to the Details: The right tracking software can make all the difference when it comes to supply chain efficiency. Although your ERP can do a lot of heavy lifting, it may not offer the ability to provide the level of detail needed to improve key performance indicators like cycle time and demand forecasting. The ability to generate dashboards and workplace analytics means you can be more proactive in bringing accuracy and efficiency into daily workflows.
It’s a Matter of Now
If you’re feeling the squeeze of today’s supply chain struggles, you’re not alone. This hiccup, brought on by the pandemic, has brought greater awareness overall of the societal and economic changes happening in our world. Consumers already expect order accuracy and immediate delivery, and now demands are even tighter with threats of short supply and longer lead times. The success of your business depends heavily on being able to plan properly, fulfill orders on time and correctly, and deliver quickly.
You’ve got to get it right the first time, or there may not be a second chance. At Barcom, we work with small and medium-sized businesses every day who struggle to free themselves of manual, paper-based processes or upgrade outdated, sluggish equipment. Today’s technology is faster and smarter than ever, and those who automate are continuing to be successful. Incorporating automation tools are decisions that pay themselves back in a matter of months, not years, making it a worthwhile and necessary investment.
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