- Supply chain optimization is critical in the face of disruptive market conditions.
- Inventory management in the supply chain, coupled with automated technologies, can help boost efficiencies.
- A mobile supply chain will help deliver better data and increase visibility across all inventory.
The supply chain industry has been significantly altered by globalization, material and inventory shortages, digitization of business operations, and ever-changing consumer demand. In fact, for many supply chain inventory professionals, the biggest challenge is that there are too many challenges.
While developments continue to unravel, there are numerous keys to supply chain optimization that remain relatively constant. Inventory-heavy businesses must consider the cost and implications of these supply chain optimization strategies to mitigate disruptions.
Here are five factors to consider when optimizing supply chain operations:
1. Important Supply Chain Metrics
Data drives good decision-making. That’s why it’s vital to track supply chain metrics from the field to the warehouse floor.
Consider these measurements for tracking materials to generate better supply chain analytics:
- Percentage of electronic data capture (AIDC)
- Granular metrics for high-cost supplies
- Costs of procedures
- Standard product identifiers
The automation of supply chain inventory can help streamline this effort. In fact, automation software has been found to significantly improve key warehouse KPIs. Barcoding and automatic data capture ensure that material movements are collected perfectly and in real-time for your ERP.
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2. Inventory Automation Solutions
Inside and outside the warehouse, automation plays a critical role in today’s supply chain. Real-time inventory data has been directly linked to numerous business outcomes, including:
- Tracking of perishable inventory, such as those used by hospitals or food companies.
- Significant money savings when dealing with tracing expired or recalled products.
- Re-allocation of staff to streamline processes
- Increased visibility into what products are being purchased in what quantity from which suppliers
Despite these use cases, automation of inventory management in the supply chain is still a work in process for many supply chain companies. In fact, only 16% of participants in the RFgen Digital Inventory Report feel their company’s mobile automation systems are sufficient for their current needs.
If data is not captured with mobile supply chain management and standardized, then you aren’t collecting the high-quality data necessary for quality decision-making. Automation technologies and supply chain optimization software drive efficiency, agility, and productivity leading to significant time and cost savings.
3. High-Dollar Products and Procedural Costs
While monitoring supply chain metrics is important to effectively control overhead, granular data can be useful for oversight of high-cost materials. An example of this would be tracking supply cost per case of goods that are used for a specific manufacturing order for a certain customer. Or semiconductors that require tracking by expiration dates and lot numbers.
Automated data collection is especially useful in this respect. The visibility gained by instant material data can inform continuous improvement strategies, as well as financial and supply chain integration. Mobile barcoding and data collection can ensure big ticket items, like equipment and expensive parts, can be found anywhere, anytime.
But this only works if technology is integrated you’re your everyday business processes. Forty-seven percent of Digital Inventory Report respondents cite the need to integrate multiple systems as a key issue. By implementing real-time asset tracking software that easily integrates with business-critical systems like an ERP, supply chain leaders can boost production and manufacturing efficiency.
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4. Industry Standards
As always, one of the most valuable metrics for material handlers in regulated industries is the tracking of unique product identifiers. Not just SKUs, but lot and serial numbers, among others. The ability to monitor these as components or ingredients are used in the manufacturing process is crucial for regulatory compliance.
Doing it by hand is next to impossible. Traceability software automates this process, shielding your organization from undue hardship during an audit or recall. The investment quickly pays for itself – and more.
Benefits include better usage tracking and recall preparedness. Digital automation of the data collection process creates the possibility for truly effective spend analysis, supply chain optimization, and comparative research.
However, the value of this data can only be realized if the data is correct to begin with.
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5. Human Supply Chains
Now, more than ever, supply chain companies are realizing a pressing need for investment in human-centric technologies. Over 70% of Digital Inventory Report respondents cite staffing as a top challenge in this economic environment. People-augmenting technologies like mobile software can lighten the burden for over-stressed frontline staff, decreasing turnover and absenteeism.
But the benefits don’t end there. Extending your ERP with mobility increases productivity per worker while also reducing costs and increasing accuracy and throughput. With labor in high demand, automated solutions can lead to great efficiencies on the warehouse floor.
In fact, one RFgen customer used mobile supply chain software to reallocate work assignments in the face of changing customer demand. The result? The ability to operate more effectively and fulfill a higher number of orders.
Effective Supply Chain Solutions for Your Business
The current economic landscape and shifting market conditions will change the way many companies operate. Implementing automated mobile supply chain solutions may not protect your company from disruption, but it will help you be prepared in an uncertain climate.
Supply chain optimization strategies not only boost efficiencies, but help you do more with less. The result is a more productive, streamlined approach that sets you apart from the competition.