The complexity of a manufacturing supply chain can make operational oversight difficult to achieve. As organizations expand into new markets and add new components to the supply chain, it will be increasingly challenging for business leaders to monitor activity at a granular level. The inability to perceive operations within a given warehouse could be disastrous for a manufacturer as bottlenecks at one facility could cause costly delays down the supply chain.
One method of coping with enterprise sprawl is to fragment operations into smaller components so regional managers can take the reins. Industrial supplier Grainger recently took such an approach, announcing that it was restructuring its business to foster greater operational focus.
Such drastic and potentially disruptive changes could be entirely unnecessary, as manufacturers may be able to equally benefit from a more simplistic operational upgrade. Manufacturing Business Technology contributor Alan Nicol recently argued that business leaders should not be so quick to completely overhaul the enterprise when an incremental upgrade could produce considerable results.
"Is there a limit to how much improvement can be accomplished from existing processes? Sometimes there is, but not always," Nicol wrote. "The limits are often fairly easy to immediately see if you look for them. If you can point to something in your process that you aren't willing or able to change, usually a capital investment or a policy, you are pointing at the limit to potential improvement. If you can change every element of the process, there is no reason why you can't optimize it."
Instead of completely revamping the structure of an organization, manufacturers may benefit more from implementing a robust supply chain management solution. OATSystems senior director Chris Forgione explained in a recent Manufacturing Business Technology article that mobile data collection devices can help both warehouse managers and C-level officers better track shipments and inventory movement. In addition, these resources can immensely improve enterprise asset management efforts, allowing business leaders to monitor their operational investments and ensure they are returning sufficient value.