It may seem like disruptions in your supply chain are frustrating inevitabilities, but that’s only half true. While they are inevitable, they don’t have to be frustrating. There’s a way to predict and often prevent them. You can also create a system that mitigates disruption when it does happen. The solution starts with visibility: The more transparency you have into each step of your logistics operation, the better you will be able to use it to help you succeed in a competitive marketplace – one characterized by increased consumer demand, shorter lead times, and decreasing inventories.
Many companies find they are profitable and growing in this demanding environment with the help of impressive, new technology that allows them visibility into their supply chain; the ability to capture key data; create meaningful analytics from the information; and then build essential actions into their systems. They often turn to third party logistics (3PL) partners to achieve their visibility goals because they want to focus on their core competency – not their logistics process.
Supply Chain Visibility Defined
Having supply chain visibility means you have the ability to track parts, components, and products – in transit or at rest – from the manufacturer to final destination. The ideal system captures data through new and flexible technologies; makes useful data readily available to stakeholders and customers; gives a clear view of inventory and supply chain activity; and helps create agile, flexible and responsive supply chains.
Implementing such a system is vital because all stakeholders need to know where things are coming from, where they are at specific times, and where they are going. This visibility increases your ability to capture information, and share and predict events and transactions, as well as translate data into useful information. This way, you can create a playbook to manage disruptions and store information for historical record and reporting.
If you can’t see it, you can’t fix it
Many companies find that limiting supply chain visibility prevents their working efficiently and successfully. Whether managing a single- or multi-source supply chain in any industry, businesses without full visibility are challenged by key factors, such as aligning goods’ movement to delivery dates in a cost effective manner, and configuring routes and transportation modes to accommodate products and sources based on locations of suppliers, fulfillment and distribution centers, and stores. Additional challenges they face include transforming sku data into business intelligence; optimizing shipping and transportation via forecasted demand; enhancing inventory velocity to meet specific delivery dates; and complying with increased governmental regulations.
But having visibility for visibility’s sake is not effective unless you can drive down to very specific detailed data needed to make decisions, such as load specific details at a sku level. That said, there’s no question that the ability to mitigate disruption is supply chain visibility’s biggest benefit. With it, you can pre-plan for possible disruptions and react quickly when a situation occurs.
Get the Right Partner for the Right Result
To put the right visibility program in place, most businesses partner with a trusted 3PL with engineering, integration and operation teams. They can help you execute the five vital steps in system implementation:
- Capture – Use advanced technologies to gain visibility across the supply chain
- Analyze – Evaluate where branded and private label products come from
- Design – Set up supply chain routes, material flow and logistics networks to accommodate varying requirements
- Sense – Use advanced analytics, business process and planning technologies
- Structure – Develop structured playbooks or scenarios to know how to comply with rules, regulations, exceptions and practices
The right 3PL partner will help you:
- Respond more quickly to consumer demand
- Expand into new geographies
- Improve productivity and efficiency
At Ryder, we have helped many customers win the supply chain visibility challenge and mitigate disruption. We partner with businesses of all sizes to achieve better production and service uptime; improved customer service; more on-time deliveries; and better inventory control through flexible, customized solutions. That’s how we help make your transportation and supply chains run Smoother. Faster. Smarter. Ever Better.
Authored by Gary Allen
Gary Allen is Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions for Ryder System. He has more than 24 years of experience in supply chain services, product development, solution design, operational excellence, sustainability and partner innovation.