What to Look for When Addressing Supply Chain Disruptions

The pandemic disrupted several facets of nearly every business dealing with international trade. Many businesses became fragmented, and cross-departmental communication issues mounted to such an extreme measure that eventually C-Suite employees needed to intervene.

When you’re dealing with large companies, higher management exists to aid in restoring efficiency and resiliency to businesses and their supply chain. While they may not be carrying out the day-to-day tasks, they are the ones responsible for equipping workers with the necessary resources and information to act in the most beneficial manner.

The biggest issue that threatens the structural integrity of a business and its objectives revolves around information management. That includes correctly reading warning signs when suppliers are struggling, understanding the consequences of not acting correctly, and deciding how to best restore lost resiliency.

The issue with information management in supply chains is that it’s rarely visible. The information needed to act upon is often hidden in the data, essentially out of site unless someone is intentionally looking for it.

The task of finding this information, deciphering through it, and relaying what is useful almost always falls on management teams. Here are some things to be on the look out for in the midst of supply chain disruptions:

Lost in a Sea of Data

Important information can be difficult to find in the first place, but often times even after it’s found, it gets lost again. Between customer and carrier communication, cross-departmental work, and the several parties involved in a single supply chain project, data that’s crucial to the success of a project can slip through the cracks as easily as an unimportant email notification.

Essentially – it’s not always the case that accessibility of information is the issue. It’s often the protection and provision of information that creates disruptions.

Management’s focus should be on figuring out why data slips through the cracks. Often, it’s because information is unstructured or unclear, buried in documentation, in the wrong context, or misdirected through data linkages.

When these data management issues aren’t addressed, they actually amplify issues in the future. Poor data management becomes the “norm” and useful data is thrown into a sea of meaningless notifications, essentially creating a “data landfill”. The only cure to it all is to create an enterprise level data management process and tool that standardizes the company’s approach to data collection, organization, and use.

It’s important that management push their teams to connect supplier management and optimization systems, enterprise resource planning, the location of manufacturing bills of materials, CAD models, and product lifecycle management applications. Often, the most critical database missing is the one used to manage standard classifications, critical geometry, and performance capabilities and material characteristics about parts and components.

This information needs to be made visible to all in the organization, and prioritized appropriately and chronologically for the necessary projects it’s related to.

ERP Management

Another huge issue businesses face in enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a failure to manage important data for ordering raw materials and components. Total replenishment lead time (TRLT) is a good example of this. It includes purchase periods, time to manufacture, and transit times. If these times aren’t management and tracked carefully, shortages and inventory spikes can skyrocket.

Manufacturing Bill of Materials (BOMs) are generated through enterprise resources planning (ERP), and their job is to pinpoint each component, the quantity necessary for each stage of manufacturing, and tons of other important information. When the necessary data for a project magically disappears from an ERP database, it comes back around as a Bill of Materials error. That leads to last minute changes, reworking, substituting parts, production setbacks, and failed delivery schedules.

Looking Ahead

If you’re interested in starting a conversation like this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to one of our team members! We would love to hear about your current shipping processes and help devise a strategic approach to reducing your shipping costs and increasing your company’s efficiency. In addition, we have our weekly market updates that provide relevant freight news, updates, and developments across the industry.

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