While marketing and customer service are flashy and fun, your supply chain is the meat-and-potatoes of your business, and it probably needs more of your attention and care. This is especially true if you haven’t updated your supply chain tools in a decade. The supply chain is incredibly complex and requires all sorts of detailed monitoring and management; fortunately, there are all sorts of monitoring and management tools for you to take advantage of. Here are a few major categories of supply chain tools to make your business faster and better than before.
Order processing might be among the supply chain’s most important tasks, so any and all tools that facilitate order processing are valuable. Currently, the cutting-edge supply chain tools for order processing are automated, which eliminates the need for supply chain workers to manually take down orders, send purchase orders and generate invoices — which in turn reduce the opportunity for costly human error.
Bid and Spend
You want to pay top-dollar for experienced supply chain managers because they are familiar with the processes for sourcing and procurement, which can be significant costs. While you can’t eliminate talent, you can bolster their abilities with bid and spend tools, especially ones that automate procurement almost entirely. While automation isn’t always the answer, it can be sometimes.
Having a good relationship with your suppliers is a must, and it is much easier to maintain that relationship when you use supplier management tools. These tools show the history of a partnership and break down how the relationship affects the supply chain. Then, you can use analytics to determine whether it is worthwhile to continue working a particular supplier or whether you should look elsewhere for goods and materials.
Your warehouse is a significant stop in your supply chain, so you need tools to assist in warehouse management. Fortunately, there is a wide selection of warehouse management tools to take advantage of. You might need help with day-to-day operations, or you might prefer a broader view of warehouse activities. Regardless, you can find advanced solutions that are as specific or expansive as you require.
Lean production is a business strategy whereby you only create what you need right now. That might make you stressed — what if you suddenly get a massive order that needs fulfilling yesterday? — but with lean inventory tools, you can remove much of the stress of maintaining leanness and benefit by avoiding costly waste in your supply chain.
Your supply chain is creating overwhelming amounts of data every minute, and you should be able to harness that data to bolster your business. Thankfully, you can — if you utilize demand forecasting tools. These tools take in data on past trends to assist in anticipating your customers’ demand. This helps you maintain lean inventory, and it keeps your customers happy.
Where in the world is your cargo right now? You will always be guessing about the status of your shipped items — and you’ll leave your customers guessing, too — if you aren’t using supply chain monitoring tools to track your shipped items. Tools like these will give you real-time updates on the location and status of your shipments.
Specialized Freight Handling
A step above shipping status tools are freight handling tools, which monitor the treatment your shipments receive as they travel from there to here. You can find sensors that track vibration, impact, temperature, humidity and more, which will help you maintain compliance on perishable goods or identify sources of damage within your supply chain.
Transportation is the final link in the supply chain; it is ensuring that goods get from one location to the next with efficiency and that they ultimately end up in your customers’ hands. Logistics tools take into consideration the size and configuration of transportation vehicles and plan multi-stop trips to all but eradicate waste during shipment and save you money while keeping every item in check.
Not only do you need your supply chain, but you need your supply chain to be the best it possibly can be. The next time you are considering giving your sales force another tool, you should remember the importance of your supply chain and the wealth of tools that could dramatically improve your supply chain workers’ jobs.