Supply chain interruptions can happen quickly, sending current operating procedures up in the air. Industry trends can quickly send demand soaring at a rate faster than niche supply chains can accommodate. For example, industry website Composites World reports that an adoption of lightweight materials among the marine, automotive and aviation industries could double the demand for composite materials by 2015.
Such trends not only suggest possible interruptions for the composite supply chain but also all the manufacturers and distributors that rely on the materials for production. Because of the massive trickle down effect, managers need to watch for possible interruptions to their own business that could be caused indirectly. In the global market, an earthquake in China can quickly impact the supply of materials to a company in the U.S.
It's important that managers have a short list of alternative suppliers that can quickly fill a void left by an unpredicted interruption. Furthermore, they must have the ability to control and identify failures in their own operations.
Data Collection Technology Prepare Supply Chains for Demand Changes
The use of barcode scanner software and data collection throughout the supply chain can help managers identify current and future slowdown in production. Automated data collection can identify if a company is dangerously close to operating capacity by measuring how much productivity is affected by small changes in daily demand.
If there are predictions of large increases to demand within the industry, managers will know that changes need to be fast in order to keep up. Inventory control is also improved when managers have access to real-time data collection that can provides up-to-the-second updates on how material is moving throughout the warehouse. Instead of taking days to adjust to a change in demand, it can take only hours.