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How to Improve Visibility in your Supply Chain
Visibility is more important than ever for supply chains. The past two years have been marred by unprecedented disruption, caused by a perfect storm of component shortages, trade disputes and the coronavirus pandemic.
This disruption has significantly decreased availability and increased the lead times of many products, which can be very damaging to your business. In this blog, we will be looking at how to improve your supply chain visibility to improve efficiency and better control costs.
What is supply chain visibility?
Supply chain visibility allows the tracking of components, sub-assemblies and products in transit and at every point in their journey, from supplier to manufacturer to end user. This provides a clear view of inventory as well as supply chain activity, which is especially important in times of difficulty and disruption so that all parties are kept informed and up to date.
Improving your supply chain visibility allows better customer service, inventory management and cost control, while also mitigating risk. Below are some steps you can take to improve visibility in your supply chain.
1. Identify pain points and define your goals
The first step to improving supply chain visibility is to assess where your lack of visibility is hurting the business the most. This could be inventory management or it could be customer satisfaction. From here, you can begin to define your goals for increased visibility and what success will look like in measurable terms.
2. Make sure shipping information is available to all internal teams
Everyone across your internal network should be able to access shipping data so that each department has a good idea of what is being spent and how best to make future purchasing decisions.
3. Build a network and keep open communication with suppliers
We’ve spoken in previous blogs about the importance of having a good relationship with your suppliers and aligning your business goals. Work with your suppliers to establish vendor guidelines and set up a regular check-in process in line with their production schedule. Open communication is mutually beneficial; after all, your success means more business for them too.
Invest in good technology
You will need to ensure you have the right digital platform in place that connects all parties and is easily accessible if you are to achieve complete visibility in your supply chain. This will likely mean investment in new technology, which you will need to choose based on the pain points and visibility goals you have defined, as well as the arrangements you have made with internal teams and external partners.
Automation technology such as track and trace systems, smart sensors and RFID technology can help to boost efficiency and easily communicate data to all parties.
Set up regular reporting processes
One sure way to improve visibility is to manually check-in with all parties at specific points in the product journey. Ask each team or partner what challenges they are facing and what information they need to achieve efficiency. Use this information as the basis for a regular check where you can exchange information with all parties.
This will also allow you to react and make changes when things are not working, or if disruption strikes and disables or slows certain processes, while keeping everyone in the loop and keeping business goals aligned.
Improved visibility can yield many benefits for your business and all the parties within your supply chain, but it relies on a continuing open dialogue and transparent exchange of information.
If you are looking for a proactive supply chain partner, why not view our services?