Supply chain issues have hammered the US and really the world at large over the last two years. In fact, supply chain disruptions have become the “new normal.”
The good news is that there are steps you can take to insulate your fleet from some of these issues. In this post, we will discuss some of the most common supply chain issues and what you can do to mitigate their impact on your business.
1. Understand the basics of supply chain management
Supply chain management is the process of coordinating the flow of goods and materials from suppliers to customers. In a typical supply chain, raw materials are sourced from suppliers and then transported to manufacturing plants, where they are transformed into finished products.
From there, the products are delivered to warehouses and distribution centers, and finally to retailers or end customers. The supply chain management process includes a number of activities, such as sourcing and procurement, transportation, inventory management, warehousing, and customer service.
By coordinating these activities, businesses can ensure that goods and materials are delivered in a timely and efficient manner. In fact, effective supply chain management, one study notes, can result in a 5-10 percent reduction in overall operational expenses.
2. Identify potential issues with your current supply chain
One of the most important aspects of supply chain management is troubleshooting. After all, even the best-laid plans can go awry, and when that happens, it’s important to be able to identify the problem and correct it as quickly as possible.
Fortunately, there are a few steps you can take to troubleshoot your supply chain management process. First, take a look at your data. Are there any patterns or anomalies that stand out? If so, those may be indicative of a problem. Examples of this might include a sudden spike in transportation costs or a sharp decline in customer satisfaction surveys and feedback.
Next, reach out to your suppliers and customers. Did something change on their end that could be causing issues? Examples of this might include a change in their production process or a new shipping restriction.
Talk to your employees. They may be able to give you insights into what’s going on behind the scenes and help you identify potential problems.
Finally, review your internal processes. Have any new procedures been put in place that could be disrupting the flow of goods? By taking these steps, you can quickly get to the bottom of any supply chain problems and ensure that your business continues to run smoothly.
3. Implement solutions to improve your supply chain process
If you’ve done the hard work in No. 3, then you should be in a good place to tackle the solutions. A good solution to drops in customer satisfaction might include developing a list of targeted questions and sending it out to those signed up on your email distribution list with some incentive for responding.
Rising transportation costs? A good solution might include finding a new, more efficient shipping partner or route. Once you’ve implemented a solution, it’s important to monitor the results and make sure that they’re having the desired effect. If not, don’t be afraid to go back to the drawing board and try something else.
The goal is to always be improving your supply chain so that your business can run smoothly and efficiently. Supply chain management is an ongoing process. As your business grows and changes, so too will your supply chain. That’s why it’s important to do periodic reviews, even if you’re satisfied with where you are. Doing so will make sure that it’s still meeting the needs of your business.
4. Train employees on the new or improved supply chain process
The constantly evolving nature of the supply chain means that you should be prepared to constantly train and retrain your employees on workflow. Some specific tactics that can be used to facilitate this process include holding regular training sessions, providing printed materials and online resources, and offering incentives for employees who successfully complete the training.
Furthermore, you must realize that informal training can be as effective as formal. That is, make sure you’ve got the right people in those first-contact positions who are good at ensuring employees take the proper steps to manage their role in the supply chain (aka “on the job training”). By taking these steps, companies can ensure that their employees are up-to-date on the latest supply chain practices and procedures.
And don’t forget to celebrate your successes
The drive to be better is always a good thing. But don’t forget to slow down and celebrate your successes along the way. This helps your employees feel appreciated and part of the whole. It also gives you an opportunity to deepen relationships with vendors and customers along the way.Are you taking a second look at your supply chain regularly? One of the most impactful areas to consider is your vehicles and equipment. Ensuring that they are always properly running and ready for action is perhaps the strongest link in the supply chain, and we can help you keep it strong. Contact J&A Fleet Maintenance today if we can help you maintain the dependability of your vehicles and equipment on your terms.