April 2010 | Sponsored | Thought Leaders

Drilling Down Into Supply Chain Data

Tags: Logistics I.T., Partnership

J. Kenneth Hazen is President & CEO, CTSI-Global, 901-766-1500

Q: How can today's manufacturers deal with increasing regulations, demand volatility, and shifting global trade currents?

Hazen: First, recognize that complying with increasing and changing regulations is a requirement. Second, allow longer lead times in holding inventory and making shipments; use expedited service when necessary. Third, placing inventory nearer the customer's location may be needed in some instances.

Also, while using historic data to predict future demand is standard practice, it should only be one consideration of the entire view. A historical forecast may not accurately represent the ever-changing, volatile economy, with its decreased spending, increased competition, and changing regulations. Being able to dive into current supply chain data is a good way to measure current activity and use real-time information for better planning. Having accurate information and the ability to drill down into your supply chain data is key.

Q: How can value chain partners cooperate to create and share efficiencies?

Hazen: Value chain partners can cooperate by working closely and sharing information with their carriers, making timely shipments, and adequately packing and marking shipments.

The key word is partner. You must form partnerships with suppliers and customers. I would bet that most companies are nervous to share some information because they are afraid it will also be shared with competitors. Sharing key information with all parties can lead to decreased waste, increased orders, and new business. Some ways to do this are: sharing key performance indicators regarding business strategy, rewarding compliant suppliers, and focusing on customer service.

Q: Besides automation, what innovative sustainability initiatives also increase efficiencies?

Hazen: The days of relying on uninterrupted delivery of your inventory are in the past. Too many factors can cause shipment delays: the weather, congestion, work stoppages or slowdowns. Also, there is always the possibility of loss or damage to the shipment, no matter how well planned your transportation strategy.

Automation can definitely increase efficiency. Reducing human intervention can bring stability and consistency to certain aspects of business. For example, automating order consolidation, carrier selection, and shipment tendering can save valuable time and money. Automation also promotes clearer data, which provides more accurate reporting.

Some innovative sustainability initiatives that also increase efficiencies include "Living Green" and "Living Healthy."

Sustainability is defined as meeting current needs without sacrificing the ability of future generations to meet their own needs by balancing environmental, economic, and social (equity) concerns. The "Living Green" and "Living Healthy" initiatives seek to satisfy current needs, but with an additional objective of improving the quality of life for all. By embracing these initiatives, companies can reduce both energy and healthcare costs.