At Pivot, we love the creative side of invention – product engineering, product design, problem-solving through prototyping.

But as anyone who’s taken a product to market knows, there’s a lot more to creating a new product than just the initial burst of right-brain, creative thinking. Once you’ve gotten your invention ready for manufacture, a whole new set of processes begins.

This is usually the point at which many inventors or product developers need a little help. Often, figuring out how to find a manufacturer, secure and move materials, and manage the other steps that are involved in mass-producing a new product feel like overwhelming tasks.

That’s why Pivot offers additional services to help inventors and others move through this often confusing element of bringing a product to market. One of those services is supply chain management. But what exactly does that mean? Here’s a quick primer on what supply chain management is, and why you need it for your product.

What does supply chain management entail?

Essentially, supply chain management is simply the management of the flow of goods or services, including raw materials, products-in-process, and finished products. The entire supply chain begins at the material’s point (or points) of origin and ends at the product’s point (or points) of consumption.

So, for example, let’s say you’ve developed a new, portable solar-powered battery and you’re ready to take it to the manufacturing stage. The various components of the battery may come from different factories in different locations, possibly around the world. Perhaps its most cost-effective to get the actual solar cells produced at a particular facility in California, while the other components are produced in three different factories in China. Then those components are sent to California, where the batteries are assembled and sent on to a distribution warehouse. From there, orders are fulfilled, and your batteries are shipped to customers.

Without a supply chain manager or management system, you or your company would have to make sure on your own that the parts from China arrived in California on schedule and in the right number. You’d have to make sure the fully assembled batteries got to the right warehouse, and that your customers’ orders were fulfilled in a timely manner and that the batteries actually got to the customers they were intended for.

It’s easy to see how this can quickly become a huge task to manage, especially if you don’t have the software, industry contacts, and knowledge of the global manufacturing process that is required to make this process go smoothly.

How does outsourcing supply chain management work?

When you outsource your supply chain management, you essentially get to give all the work of coordinating different manufacturers, shipping companies, and distribution warehouses to a company with the resources and tools to make sure your products are created and delivered on time.

With Pivot, for example, we use industry-standard Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Manufacturing Resource Planning (MRP) software systems. These allow us to manage all the steps in taking your product from prototype to mass production in a single, centralized system.

Since we specialize in helping clients through every step of creating a product, from original conception to manufacturing and distribution, we have deep industry knowledge that we draw on. We have manufacturing resources across the globe that we’ve partnered with for years. These facilities are able to handle both small runs – for prototypes, for example – and ongoing high-volume production, as well as anything in between.

When we manage the supply chain for our clients, we tackle the job from start to finish – and finish doesn’t just mean when the product arrives to you. We are also always there to help deal with any problems that arise, like warranty issues or changes to a product’s specifications.

Could you use some help taking your product from prototype to mass production? Contact Pivot to learn more about our supply chain management services today!