Material Handling

Building Resilient Supply Chains

Resilience is about more than just avoiding interruptions

Navigating modern supply chains takes more than just efficiency and speed. Supply chain disruptions can come from many places, from common market volatility to global geopolitical tensions, and the ability of a business to prepare for and respond to these disruptions is key to long-term success and sustainability. A robust supply chain is not simply about avoiding interruptions, it is about ensuring that your operations can continue when interruptions inevitably occur. Achieving robustness is a journey that will vary from company to company, but we can lay out some foundational ideas that can apply to many, if not most, manufacturing operations today.

Foundations of a Robust Supply Chain

A robust supply chain is characterized by its flexibility, visibility, and adaptability. These qualities enable businesses to respond swiftly and effectively to unforeseen challenges, be they sudden spikes in demand, supply shortages, or logistical hurdles. The goal is to create a supply chain that not only withstands disruptions but also adapts and grows stronger from them. This requires a comprehensive approach:

Diversification and Flexibility

Diversifying suppliers and logistics partners reduces dependency on any single source, mitigating the risk of crippling shortages. Flexibility in operations allows for quick pivots in strategy, whether adjusting production schedules or exploring alternative transportation routes.

This also includes diversifying your AVLs (approved vendor lists) to include more alternate parts whenever possible. When a preferred manufacturer part number becomes unavailable, it is so much easier to simply find one of your alternates when they've already been vetted and selected.

Enhanced Visibility and Communication

A transparent supply chain, bolstered by clear communication channels, ensures that all stakeholders have real-time access to crucial information. This visibility is key to coordinating effective responses to emerging challenges. Supply visibility also applies to a manufacturer's current inventory levels. If you aren't sure of what you have on hand, it is that much harder to ensure that your suppliers can provide what you need in a timely manner.

Predictive Forecasting

Not every manufacturer has the luxury of knowing what they have to build years, months, or even weeks in advance, but whatever information you do have can be critical to providing accurate forecasts of your material needs. Your material forecasts are invaluable to your suppliers so that they can provide you with their own supply forecasts. Many suppliers are able to employ predictive analytics in order to foresee potential supply chain bottlenecks, especially when dealing with global events that can have ripple effects on component supply chains down the road.

Smart Storage as an Amplifier

The above strategies can be crucial to building an effective supply chain, but when you introduce modern Smart Storage Solutions into the mix the benefits become amplified, and the strategies become easier to implement.

Realizing Flexibility through Automation

Smart Storage Systems automate mundane processes like accurately tracking the details on each individual package. This makes it simple to pick, store, and track all your different manufacturer part numbers, dates and lot codes, customer- or vendor-owned inventory, and anything else you need to manage. By handling these tracking processes for you, Smart Storage allows you to achieve maximum flexibility without introducing time consuming and error-prone manual processes.

Enhancing Visibility

By tracking the details of all of your packages, you automatically gain the benefits of visibility over your material. By simply being able to see exactly what is in your smart storage at this moment, what has been recently picked, what is in your feeders, and what is expected to return, you can have confidence that your inventory numbers are as accurate as possible. This confidence allows you to make smarter decisions about upcoming jobs and material orders.

Adaptability through Data and Communication

The visibility you gain can be shared with your supply chain partners to provide key insights into your inventory levels at any given time. As your levels change over time this data, combined with your order histories and projected needs, can be used by you and your suppliers to examine trends and identify inefficiencies in your material flow and possible areas of improvement in order to maintain adaptability as your business needs and market conditions change.

Wrapping Up

Building a robust supply chain is a complex, multifaceted endeavor that goes beyond mere risk mitigation. It's about creating an ecosystem that is resilient, responsive, and adaptable. While strategies like diversification and analytics lay the groundwork, the integration of smart storage solutions acts as the linchpin, enabling businesses to achieve the agility and efficiency required to thrive in today’s unpredictable market. In this light, smart storage is not just a tool for optimization but a critical component of a resilient supply chain strategy.


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