How to Solve Your Supply Chain Challenges

The Blume Global Team | February 14, 2019

The increasing complexity of international supply chains means that supply chain managers must use a combination of tools, techniques and approaches to meet everyday and long-term challenges. We’ve explored some of the main pressures and demands on the supply chain and in this post, we present some ways to help you manage your supply chain more effectively.

Manage and Drive Down Costs in the Supply Chain

Rising fuel, commodity and labor costs can drive up charges for organizations throughout the supply chain that ultimately get passed on to the end business. Supply chain managers need to understand and control cost challenges.

Visibility of Costs Through Accurate Budget Control and Reporting

Good cost control relies on transparency. All organizations in the supply chain should report on their costs and overheads in a common and centralized way to allow for accurate cost tracking and reporting. This reporting can be linked to financial metrics and provide early sight of cost leakage and other financial issues.

Robust Cost Controls Built Into Contracts and Service Level Agreements

Supply chains work best when everything is clearly defined. Make sure that all contract documents, statements of work and service level agreements (SLAs) make specific mention of costs and cost controls. Build a cost review process into sourcing, manufacturing, logistics and other operations with proper accountability both within third-party organizations and the supply chain team.

Blume Finance enables transparency and granular visibility for freight audit and pay with a smart contract repository, rating management and validation, machine learning-driven invoicing, cost accrual auditing and blockchain-enabled payment and settlement.

Optimize Inventory and Supply Chain Demands Across Multiple Channels

The number of ways that businesses and individuals can acquire goods has increased dramatically. Supply chain managers need oversight across every route to market with accurate demand planning. This will help you to maintain appropriate inventory levels, so channels don’t run out of products.

View All Marketplace Channels in One Place

Managing demand through a supply chain is difficult enough when you only need to look at a couple of distribution routes. Add in third-party marketplaces, ecommerce, wholesale or dropshipping and things become much more complex. Supply chain managers need transparent reporting that shows supply and demand planning across all channels. This allows you to react to demand changes quickly, so you can raise orders and reroute inventory before stock levels become an issue.

Use Predictive and Prescriptive Analytics to Identify and Model Sales Trends

Product demand is influenced by past trends, marketing promotions, competition, new products hitting the market and more. Supply chain managers should model likely future demands using predictive and prescriptive analytics, feeding in historic data, marketing plans, competitor activity and any other relevant information. This will help you plan ahead and order products before there’s undue pressure on inventory levels.

Blume optimizes assets, logistics and supply chains with AI- and ML-driven matching for assets and transportation legs. For LSPs that need to minimize empty container moves and manufacturers that need to streamline supply chain operations, Blume Optimization helps minimize costs, maximize capacity and improve agility.

Improve Quality and Speed in the Supply Chain

Supply chains can always become more efficient. Good supply chain managers will introduce continual improvement initiatives to maximize quality and eliminate bottlenecks and delays.

Introduce Internal Checkpoints and Quality Control

You need visibility of the quality and condition of raw materials, parts and finished products as they move through the supply chain. A combination of independent auditors, quality checkpoints and monitoring devices helps make sure that products are sourced and manufactured to your exact standards. These standards should be clearly documented in contracts, SLAs and other documentation.

Track the Movement of Goods Through the Supply Chain

IoT devices will track goods wherever they are in the world using GPS. This allows supply chain managers to identify the location of goods at any time and can prepare downstream organizations like manufacturers to prepare for receipt and processing.

Build a Continual Improvement Process Into the Supply Chain

Analysis of supply chain data is an excellent starting point for improvement initiatives. Managers can collect data on quality, speed, price or any other key metrics to reduce waste or drive up efficiencies. As you make improvements to supply chain processes, you can continue analyzing data to understand the real-world impact of changes and drive future improvements.

Blume Visibility removes dark areas and provides clear visibility across every move, mode and mile by tracking events, predicting ETA, flagging exceptions and facilitating proactive resolution of disruptions. Unparalleled network visibility and intelligent execution help improve supply chain performance, resilience and responsiveness.

Manage and Mitigate Risks and Issues in the Supply Chain

Risk is a natural part of the supply chain ecosystem. Complex international supply chains can be impacted by issues including:

  • Tariffs, fees and customs processing delays
  • Failure to meet regulatory or compliance demands
  • Port congestion and delays in storing or transporting products
  • Economic, environmental and political risks impacting the free flow of goods

These problems are too big for a single organization to resolve, so it’s essential that supply chain managers have the right visibility, tools and approaches to plan around and mitigate these risks.

Get Early Sight of Potential Supply Chain Issues

Risk management is another area where supply chain transparency is essential. Create “one source of the truth,” a centralized information repository where you collect data from throughout the supply chain. Use this repository to run reports, set thresholds and track metrics closely and identify potential problems before they become a big issue. Use AI and machine learning to query data, set a baseline and spot unusual patterns that might turn into showstoppers down the road.

Create Excellent Relationship Management Disciplines

Supply chains rely on strong relationships with suppliers, manufacturers, logistics and other third parties. Although the governance of that relationship will be captured in contracts and service level agreements, excellent day-to-day relationship management will increase goodwill and help you resolve issues. Clarity and communication through the supply chain will help supply chain managers and other organizations to collaborate more closely.

Plan for Contingencies and Mitigating Actions

Creating backup plans and mitigating actions is essential to a healthy supply chain. Build contingencies into the supply chain like backup suppliers and manufacturers, alternative logistics provisions, overflow storage solutions and similar business continuity planning. Prioritize risks to the supply chain in terms of likelihood and impact and plan for worst-case scenarios. Build mitigating action plans with proper accountability so you can respond to supply chain emergencies quickly.

Blume Logistics creates a robust network for logistics tendering, tracking, event capture, POD verification and settlement initiation. By connecting a global ecosystem of multi-modal carriers to manage every move, Blume Logistics unites carriers—from ocean to rail to long haul—with first- and last-mile drayage for real-time event and cost tracking.

Use the Right Supply Chain Software Platform

If you want to manage supply chain challenges effectively, you need the right tools. A centralized supply chain software platform that integrates with organizations throughout the supply chain gives you the visibility and approaches you need to reduce costs, remove risks and maximize efficiencies.

Blume Digital Platform will help you to:

  • Analyze your supply chain using customizable views, dashboards and KPIs
  • Track contract performance and manage complex transactions
  • Integrate with organizations throughout the supply chain for easier reporting and relationship management
  • Optimize logistics through better asset allocation and opportunities to match loads by time, distance and cost savings
  • Understand costs throughout the supply chain
  • Get end-to-end visibility throughout the supply chain ecosystem

Learn how the Blume Digital Platform uses data to connect trading partners in a collaborative supply chain ecosystem to drive real value and growth for customers worldwide. Our cloud-based platform is open and neutral, and its extensible architecture enables continuous innovation to forge the future of the global supply chain.

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