Think about tracing the progress of a product. Start at its inception as a group of raw materials, components, and maybe Trinamic Motion Control products. Then follow it through to its manufacture, shipping and delivery to the end user. Most likely, hundreds of parts and sometimes thousands of vendors, subcontractors, regulators and governmental entities combine to form the network that make the process possible. It’s no wonder that bottlenecks and weaknesses occur, underscoring the importance of a strong supply line. But just what does that mean?
Focuses on Data
One of the key advantages of today’s technological supply chain management innovations is their ability to gather and analyze massive amounts of information from all parts of the network with jaw-dropping speed and efficiency. The robust network takes full advantage of this information flow, using it to track and trace items as well as to assess supplier risk and accurately forecast inventory needs. A data-driven approach can drastically reduce bottlenecks, save money and minimize the chances of security threats from risky vendors.
Technology enables your team to track and trace the progress of items as they travel through the network. The same solutions that assist you in forecasting future inventory needs based on past and present usage can also conduct ongoing evaluations of current market conditions. If a threat or significant change is recognized, the software will alert you that your manufacturing or delivery processes may be impacted and will recommend corrective actions.
Your supply network is assailed by any number of natural and human-made forces. These include but are not limited to storms, earthquakes, wars, terrorist attacks, pandemics and fires, any one of which can wreak havoc with your suppliers and has the potential to interrupt your deliveries or shut them down altogether. A strong supply chain is flexible enough to recognize the problem and pivot to accommodate it. Often, that means having a staple of alternate suppliers available to come through in a pinch. However, electronics manufacturers who rely on a single source for certain components may instead need to stockpile essential items in preparation for an as yet unknown future event.
Instant gratification seems to be the order of the day. In a world where consumers want their electronics delivered yesterday, the healthy supply chain will make fast manufacture and delivery a high priority. That being said, however, the organization should not compromise quality to make this happen. Doing so might result in short-term gains when an item reaches the market before its competitors, but it is sure to backfire over time.
The focus on protecting our environment and shifting away from fossil fuels is still in its infancy. However, the use of renewable energy is increasing and will only continue to do so in the years to come. A strong supply chain will need to be compatible with this trend, as will manufacturers. Photovoltaic, geothermal and biodiesel sources will supplant the current ones, and everyone in the network from raw materials procurers to manufacturing and transportation will be expected to tow the line.
Local, state and national governments impose laws that pertain to the safe and efficient production and delivery of products. In addition, industries often create sets of guidelines and requirements addressing security and operational practices. The best-in-class supply network will comply with if not exceed these standards and ideally will be transparent. This means that stakeholders will be able to see into the supply chain so that processes can be monitored at any point from origin to terminus.
A company is only as good as the products it manufactures. By the same token, its products are only as good as the network of entities that produce and convey them to the end user. Making the building and maintenance of a strong supply chain a top priority is one of the best ways to catapult your organization ahead of its competitors.