Whilst ‘supply chain visibility’ may not be the first item on the wish list of those within the retail, distribution and manufacturing industries, chances are that ‘reduced lead times’ or cost-effective operations’ will be.
In real terms, these more commonly sought-after business goals may only be achievable when supply chain visibility is adopted and embedded within the organisation. With today’s consumers requiring multi-channel options to purchase, instant availability updates and super-fast delivery times, it’s difficult to see how organisations will be able to successfully operate without it.
The very best way to keep lead times to a minimum (and protect valuable customer loyalty) is to predict demand, ensure sufficient stock availability, have a quick and easy method of locating, picking and packing and finally have planned delivery options to get the goods to the desired location without delay. The logistics involved in bringing these steps together seamlessly is going beyond the capability of traditional stock management, warehousing and transport practices.
From a cost-effective point of view, there simply isn’t the time or resource available within the average organisation to have many of the tasks carried out manually. Warehouses have increased considerably in size, the number of different goods being stocked has ballooned and the tolerance for manual error within the monitoring, picking and packing of goods has decreased dramatically. And when it comes to deliveries, transport costs need to be managed by smart scheduling – reducing the number of vehicles on the road, the length of journeys they are making and the volume of unused space within each at any point in time.
Supply chain visibility is achieved with a combination of technology, software and connectivity. Handheld data capture devices, mobile printers and EPoS hardware on the ground transfer real time data to those who need it and the information is shared across the network to give immediate access to the data required for order fulfilment. With demands predicted and promotions accounted for, there are no nasty surprises to disrupt product availability and goods leaving can be scheduled onto existing, planned, optimised routes which not only keeps transport costs to a minimum but also reduces environmental impact.
And the efficiencies don’t end there. The incorporation of condition and performance monitoring of the hardware itself means that servicing maintenance and replacement can be predicted and planned, minimising emergency failures and the costly downtime associated with them.
At PLM Global the supply, repair and maintenance of handheld capture devices, mobile print and EPoS hardware is our business, so it may be easy to think that we are somewhat biased on the subject of supply chain visibility. The truth however is that it is difficult to see how any business within retail, distribution or manufacturing can meet increasingly tough consumer demand, environmental responsibilities or regulatory compliance without adopting – and fully embracing – this practice.
If you would like to know more about the options open to your business then get in touch, and we can talk through your requirements!