Stability and Visibility for Inbound Warehousing
By: David Sherman – Lean Logistics Specialist
For firms today, a universal struggle is the synchronization of inbound shipments with inbound warehousing activities, as well as outbound warehousing activities. Creating a level volume flow (shipments, as well as materials) allows for firms to maintain stability and visibility throughout their supply chain network.
What does it take?
In order to attain stability and visibility within the supply chain network, immediate customer demand must be understood at a part level under an implemented pull system. Understanding customer demand (voice of customer) is paramount to a successful stabilization within the supply chain. As demand is understood, each step within the supply chain can begin to reflect the actual demand. Once actual demand is determined and planning becomes universal, this allows for visibility within the supply chain network.
Why is visibility important?
Visibility is important in many different arenas within the supply chain. More importantly it allows customers, suppliers, manufacturers, and the like to better understand, in real-time, where parts and information is at any given moment. This visibility within the network then allows for planning decision to reflect accurate and real-time information in order to ensure the correct decision(s) are made. Visibility also gives the customer a level of comfort knowing: which parts have shipped, at what time/day, to which location, and in which quantities. This level of visibility allows for a more level flow of not only shipments and materials but also information (in either direction).
What problems can occur?
Initially, obtaining visibility within the supply chain network will require some higher levels of collaboration. This effort will contain items such as, supplier development training, supplier cultivation, as well as planning sessions to understand what it will take to level flow inventory (shipments) etc. Collaboration between parties is not always clear and can cause confusion. Ensuring that open lines of communication are established, along with plans for visibility, stability and sustainability for each party are determined early in the process is the key to determining the goals of each firm are aligned, in order to attain a more successful relationship. Visibility issues can arise when communication breaks down between parties and key pieces of information (or materials) are lost. When this happens, the ensuing actions to determine the missing information (materials) can create unnecessary stress on the parties involved, potentially straining the relationship(s). Another potential pitfall with visibility and stability ventures within a supply chain are compliance from all parties. Ensuring that each party is dedicated to pursuing the same goals in regards to fulfillment of each party’s needs (customer demand) is critical to garnering a successful venture of stability and visibility within the supply chain. Each party must be aware of the risks/rewards involved with each step to ensure that critical mistakes are not made.
It is essential for supply chain networks to employ visibility and stability with their shipments, processes, and information. These actions will lead to a more well rounded, lean and agile supply chain that can help grow with the needs of the customer(s) involved. In part, it is key that all parties have the same desires in mind for a stable and visible supply chain. What is your firm doing to work with its supply chain partners to obtain stability and visibility?Share