A modern supply chain is an ever-changing creature with an eye to constant improvement.
Schools of thought like “agile” and “six sigma” have attempted to create more efficiency without neglecting service, with some amount of success. But you don’t really need to undo all your current tools to keep up with the rest of today’s modern supply chain, you can improve efficiency within your own warehousing and distribution department with some simple changes.
Efficiency is Everything in Modern Logistics
Logistics is all about moving products through the supply chain to the end recipient, often a consumer or retailer. The faster and more reliably you can do this, the better your reputation will be. It’s just that simple. But even if you feel like you’re making great strides, there are probably gaps in your logistics processes.
Try these three ways to improve your supply chain efficiency:
- Standardize procedures. Many smaller warehouses just sort of wing it when it comes to procedures. Sure, there are outlines for the important steps, but the details are often overlooked, assuming that everyone knows how to do the thing in the same way.
A good bet is to go back over your procedures manual and take note of every procedure that isn’t explained. If you don’t have a procedures manual, now is a great time to write one. Make sure everybody receives his or her own copy so there are no excuses for having not learned the material.
- Take advantage of tech. 3PL technology and software that allows you to connect to your entire supply chain are the keys to tomorrow. Sure, it may require a small (or even sizable) investment, but you’ll have the tools to improve efficiency, increase sales and ultimately, you’ll know everything there is to know about an order from warehouse to last mile delivery.
- Source suppliers with collaboration in mind. There was a time when you’d find a supplier, tell them to make something for you (or sell you something they’re already making) and you’d wait for it to arrive. Today, it’s all about collaboration. From choosing appropriate products for your end consumer to routing those products through a sometimes arduous process and an ocean crossing, having a supplier that is more engaged with your business means you both benefit from fewer mistakes, delays and unwelcome returns.
Increasing efficiency also can mean increasing transparency if your supply chain is lacking information in transportation or inventory control. By employing more hardware and software and treating every step as a collaboration, you’re going to see much more efficiency and more team members seeking even more new ways to improve processes.