Many people see Supply Chain Management (SCM) as being a well defined process that is in an evolutionary cul-de-sac; it has a system that works well, but has nowhere else to go. However, there are several emerging trends that are making the practice of managing the delivery of goods a much improved dynamic and fast-paced practice. Since the onset of the global village, supply around the world has become a slick operation that is both forward-looking and customer-focused. It is a process in which the customer truly is king and calls the shots.
Supply Chain Industry Trends
Missing a scheduled delivery around the world by one day can be disastrous for the customer and can heavily impact their business. SCM is a field in which time really does mean time, and there is no room for supply chain problems. Because the nature of moving goods around on a worldwide scale has become well defined, it is assumed that there is little room for innovation in SCM.
As companies embrace supply chain management on a global scale the need for communications makes world-wide business a matter of fact, Supply Chain Management has to adapt to these changes and retain the flexibility it needs to operate at this new level. There are a number of key trends that are now driving SCM to become more fluid and adaptable to this changed world.
As demand cycles times drop and customers expect goods to be supplied faster, product turnaround is becoming a major issue in SCM. This means that many companies need to review their demand strategies and construct a cogent and realistic forward-looking plan of not only current product but the impact of new product introductions as well. This needs to be realized by every pertinent department within the company as well as being fed out to suppliers. The need for understanding stock levels and the availability of stock becomes everyone’s task and it is no longer acceptable for non-production departments to remove stock for prototyping at the expense of customer deliveries.
As international business increases, so does the movement of goods, with much of it being carried by sea container, and requires a huge infrastructure centred on container ports. While many developed countries already have a well-managed structure for the exchange of goods, much of it is let down by long-winded and unpredictable customs procedures that can inhibit smooth flow and upset carefully-planned Supply Chain Management administration. If you can’t tell when your goods are due to be released from port, you can’t assign them. Globalization is a notion that businesses can work with authorities, and specialist container ports can become predictable entities and built into the demand plan — taking the uncertainty out of supply from other countries, wherever they may be in the world.
Technology is advancing at a furious rate, and while some may feel nervous at the extent to which we now rely on it, plainly it has enormous benefit and a rosy future in Supply Chain Management. Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) is already an established technology, and with its brand of real-time object tracking, micro-adjustments in movement and supply can be tracked and a constant picture of delivery formed. But automation will go further than the simple tracking of goods, and even now bespoke factories – similar to the warehouses used by Amazon and their ilk – have the facility to pick and dispatch goods with incredible accuracy. Add in automated delivery – even on an international scale – and the dream of constant flow becomes a reality within the supply chain market.
Automation may also take on other forms and the increasing flexibility and sophistication of 3D printers raises the possibility of goods being printed to order within an automated factory. This scenario may then relieve the need to transport the goods international distances, as goods could be printed locally and delivered within a very short time span. Concepts such as this remove the need to hold expensive stock and may take away the requirement to deliver completely.
There are many other ways in which Supply Chain Management may alter to become a fully autonomous process, with an in-built predictability that shortens lead times and delivers goods to the customer exactly when they want it. Far from what you may imagine, Supply Chain Management is a dynamic and fluid process with a rosy future ahead of it.
Pivot International is a product design, development, and manufacturing firm with extensive experience in the medtech industry. If you are interested in engineering a new product or updating an existing product, contact us at 1-877-206-5001 or request your free consultation today.