“Oh no!” lamented the owner of a US-based SME (small-to-mid-sized) manufacturer. “Our supplier in China can’t fulfill our order until next month. We’ve been buying from them for ten years. What do we do now?”
This dramatization is all too common, especially for small businesses. With labor shortages, natural disasters, unruly weather, port congestion, war, and a global pandemic, supply chains have been greatly affected over the past several years. Large companies can reach out to their tier-two suppliers to get supplies and products they need to continue manufacturing and fulfilling orders. But small companies are left in the lurch.
The remedy is two-fold; adopt visibility technology and align with a resource to find new suppliers quickly and safely. Visibility tech now exists, enabling tracking of an open PO’s fulfillment. Using this software allows for proper planning and, if needed pivoting to a new supplier long before the expected ship date.
Finding new sources of supply is always challenging. Vendor site visits, prototypes, and samples may become impractical when time is short and tensions are high. Supplier websites may look respectable, but some are false fronts owned by fly-by-night companies. Soon, digital platforms will arrive to save the day. These platforms will vet a vendor and permit a buyer to evaluate multiple suppliers on quality, cost, and delivery. Once a choice is made, everything from PO to delivery will be affected seamlessly without human intervention.
Let’s expand on this two-prong approach with the following tips for mitigating supply chain disruptions.
- Use a Transportation Management System (TMS). Many companies spend millions on freight and lose hundreds of thousands of dollars due to inefficiencies, non-optimal mode selection, and discrepancies. A TMS helps businesses create greater operational efficiencies and lower costs. A TMS provides rate comparisons, tracking, and tracing shipments, secures capacity, books freight, and manages shipments.
- Eliminate the Black Holes in Your Supply Chain. Black holes appear in the supply chain when multiple systems are used to manage the supply chain. Using a single supply chain management system ensures you get a holistic view of the supply chain from beginning to end. Plus, having a single integrated ecosystem eliminates silos and creates a single source of truth.
- Make Your Visibility Data Valuable. Data is the lifeblood of a business, but you have to do something with the data to gain value for your organization. First, you have to gather the data from disparate systems, clean the data to ensure accuracy, mine the data for deeper insights, then use the data for continuous improvement of your operation.
- Connect ML and AI to analysis. If you connect machine learning and artificial intelligence features to your data analysis, your systems can learn to make better decisions. For example, suppose you are shipping two orders to the same location. With AI/ML, you can “learn” of alternative opportunities, such as combining the shipment into a bigger load for better rates. Or you can “learn” which lanes are more congested at a specific time of year, then use alternative lanes to eliminate any delays in arrival times. The more you know and the deeper you go into your data, the more resilient your business can become by identifying disruptions and mitigating their impacts.
- Optimize Your Supply Chain Network. Supply chain optimization allows businesses to improve efficiency and performance. By optimizing your network, your business learns the optimal combination of production or manufacturing facilities and distribution centers or warehouses in the supply chain. Supply chain network optimization matches supply and demand to create a supply chain network with the lowest operating costs.
- Choose a marketplace of vetted suppliers to purchase supplies. Using a supplier marketplace, small businesses gain access to suppliers they may have never done business with. A supplier marketplace is a network that allows buying organizations and vetted suppliers to efficiently maintain a list of contracted goods and services. Suppliers offer their products for sale, while buyers purchase products from various vendors.
- Use a SaaS-based platform. With a supply chain management system based in the cloud, small business users can put their operations in a similar competitive equilibrium as larger companies. SaaS platforms are easy to use, require no IT support, and can easily be upgraded quickly. Cloud-based systems cost less, require little infrastructure investment, are scalable, and are easy to implement.
- Optimize transportation planning to improve the customer experience, increase operational efficiencies, and lower costs. Small and mid-sized businesses can increase asset utilization, speed deliveries, and contain costs by optimizing their transport plans.
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) face many of the same supply chain issues as large companies – supply outages, labor shortages, tight transportation capacity, port congestion, and more. Yet, larger enterprises can deploy multimillion-dollar software applications to guide everything from sourcing to warehousing to overcome these challenges. SMEs remain stuck in yesterday, using a myriad of disparate systems and archaic methods. SMEs need similar tools to be competitive, yet SMEs struggle to afford or even understand these technologies.
The BrillDog Supply Chain Management System will unstick the stuck. Shippers can perform their day-to-day tasks in less time by automating manual processes, leaving them more hours to focus on profit-making activities.
If you’re interested in learning more about BrillDog and its services, visit www.brilldog.com