Efficiency and optimization are leading points of discussion in board rooms of supply chain and logistics businesses. From improving warehouse operations to reducing shipping expenses, supply chain optimization allows businesses to meet financial goals, improve customer service, and ultimately – increase sales.
The key to optimizing any supply chain is following the practices that reduce the potential for mistakes, allow you to adapt to changes, and better serve your customers.
Here are five of those best practices to get you started on your way to a more optimized supply chain...
Be Agile and Adapt
It might be possible that you operate an unbelievably efficient supply chain. However, what happens when things don’t go as expected? Whether it’s a dependable carrier that has closed unexpectedly or a supplier that is out of raw materials, the key to maintaining an efficient supply chain is having the flexibility to roll with the punches.
The smart logistics company will always have duplicate partners on stand-by that help them fulfill customer orders when they are bogged down under all the volume.
In fact, it’s recommended to always maintain a pool of qualified carriers in multiple modes of transportation. Suppliers and distribution partners should likewise be on standby in case the unexpected happens.
Improve Areas of Supply Chain Strength
When your company has a strength that helps you maintain a competitive advantage, it’s important to build on it.
There are some areas of supply chain management that may be deficient. And while it’s difficult to improve those struggling areas, it is possible to forget about those that operate smoothly. This can lead to problems if you forget to build on your areas of strength.
One thing that many successful logistics businesses consider is upgrading their TMS to include a carrier management system. A CMS is intended to help shippers review the performance of carriers they work with daily. If shipping or certain carriers are supply chain functions where you excel, work with the carriers to improve their efficiency.
In the end, working with your strengths may actually resolve some of your other weaknesses and lead you to a more optimized supply chain.
Consider the Big Picture
There are multiple ways this statement applies.
For those who ship and receive products locally, the key is to consider ways of improving your local supply chain operations. This can be accomplished by looking at the big picture. Consider solidifying partnerships with local customers to ensure you can rely on consistent movement of freight even during the ebbs and flows of the year. In many instances, carriers will work with you to provide discounted rates for daily or weekly pickups and deliveries.
For those that operate internationally, it’s likewise crucial to focus on the big picture. Consider increasing volumes or planning your cross-border movements to include full container loads. This is also a cost-saving solution that can improve the efficiency of your supply chain.
At the heart of efficiency is discovering ways to remove delays. This is where automation in warehouse management can help.
As artificial intelligence and robotics technology has advanced, many fulfillment and warehouse operators have implemented these solutions. Robotics is used for order picking, packaging, and even loading and unloading cargo containers. This helps to reduce human errors and improve accuracy.
Automation is also used with warehouse management systems. When a customer places an order, automated communications are sent via their platform of choice, either SMS text, desktop alert, or an email. Throughout the process, the customer, carriers, recipients, and other parties involved in the freight movement can be alerted to any changes.
Improve Supply Chain Transparency
Supply chain visibility or transparency is a crucial component of supply chain optimization. Each step of the supply chain must be tracked for it to be referred to as End to End visibility. Consumers, advocacy groups, and government agencies are increasingly becoming aware of the importance that traceability plays in protecting the integrity of products and the industry itself.
When data is readily available for everybody to monitor, and access, it improves trust and provides a crucial step to improving communication between all parties.
Supply chain optimization is possible when shippers, manufacturers, carriers, distributors, and all parties involved must work together – with a focus on supporting the end customer with superior service. Another resource available to shippers trying to build a more optimized supply chain is a professional 3PL like Redwood Logistics.
If you’re looking to improve the efficiency of your supply chain or would like to discover other ways of optimizing your logistics network, contact Redwood Logistics today!