Simplifying Supply Chain Complexities

Manufacturing has never been more global, productive, profitable, or vulnerable. Despite tremendous advances in breaking down global barriers and adding efficiency to the supply chain, there are still challenges to move products quickly, safely, and seamlessly.

To appreciate the complexity of today’s global supply chain, consider Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner passenger jet. Each jet is comprised of about 2.3 million parts and about 30 percent come from international suppliers.

The success of Boeing’s supply chain depends on the seamless orchestration of its entire supplier network, and all component parts must arrive at the right time. One mishap and the entire process is disrupted, usually with severe consequences.

Expect Precise Deliveries

A business needs visibility into its entire organization—to know with certainty where each piece of inventory or component part is located at any given moment. Technology makes it possible to know with certainty when a delivery will be made, and it’s that certainty that makes possible today’s precise manufacturing schedules.

A high degree of visibility, for example, would alert you to any number of potential obstacles—from weather incidents to work stoppages to political situations—that could affect your shipment.

Global Challenges

Shipment security is another issue. An important part of the complex supply chain required to build today’s aircraft is ensuring each part is FAA-certified. Plane manufacturers face an ongoing problem of suspected unapproved parts, also known as counterfeits, which the FAA is not always able to intercept.

As a result, manufacturers have to review their suppliers and have procedures in place to certify the documentation and safety of all component parts.

Another challenge in today’s global environment is that many companies resist change and conduct business as usual. So much has advanced with regard to how shipments can be moved around the world. Today’s logistics solutions are much leaner, faster, and flexible than what was possible as recently as five years ago.

Businesses need to be open to new and better ideas. Just because you’ve always shipped products one way, doesn’t mean there isn’t a newer and more efficient way. If you haven’t done a logistics checkup in the past three to four years, you’d be pleasantly surprised to find at least a few new options for moving your goods.

One final obstacle is complying with customs and regulatory mandates. There is no escaping the customs process, but that doesn’t mean you can’t minimize its impact on your supply chain.

A good logistics provider or customs broker will know in advance precisely which regulations your shipments will trigger, and will proactively ensure all paperwork is pre-filed, and all duties and taxes are paid. It will also take advantage of trusted trader programs that give front-of-the-line treatment to members’ shipments.

As technology and innovation enable new options, global supply chains will keep pace and take us to new heights.

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