A strong supply chain is one that can run as well when challenges arise as it can when times are good. It's easy to keep a supply chain efficient when suppliers are delivering on time and warehouse procedures are running with high productivity. According to Supply Chain and Demand Executive, the true measure of a good supply chain is not only efficiency, but also responsiveness.
A responsive supply chain is one that can quickly adapt to unexpected interruptions. Like a basketball team with a deep bench, supply chains need a backup plan to keep productivity high. This does not only mean having a short list of new suppliers, but having steps in place for all interruptions, including ways to access finances, share work among warehouses and manufacturing facilities and have well-defined organizational roles.
New Tools Create a Digital Platform and Increase Responsiveness
Supply Chain and Demand recommends harnessing tools that can track supplier commitments and manufacturing status, as well as ones that can monitor real-time product flow in the warehouse. Many new solutions can help manufacturers and distributors achieve this:
- Advanced Data Collection: This is key to improving responsiveness because a company can not formulate alternative operational measures without access to data that provides managers with a clear view of how the supply chain is running.
- Inventory Control: Ensuring accuracy with inventory can greatly improve a company's ability to respond to changes. Voice picking software can reduce the errors made by warehouse employees in the racks, ensuring that inventory counts are correct. For companies that must run a lean inventory due to space constraints, this is critical.
- Mobile Data Collection: This adds collection points to the supply chain and can also help track data in more locations. Mobile data is very helpful in the event of a recall and to improve inventory.