What Is A Supply Chain?

Posted by Jonathan Davies on 7 Jun


whyyourbusinessshouldinvestinerp.jpegIf you run a small or medium sized manufacturing business, keeping your supply chain in shape should be an ongoing concern. All manufacturing businesses have in puts, processes and outputs, and the supply network includes all of these elements. Supply chains show how each product passes from suppliers through to the production line, retailers and consumers. It's vital to ensure that every link is solid, and that your chain works as efficiently as possible.

Find and Manage Suppliers Efficiently

Suppliers are the partners that you choose to deliver raw materials and components for the products that you make. Their reliability and the quality of their products can make or break the business prospects of manufacturers, so it's essential to select them wisely.

It's also vital to create systems that enable you to manage and monitor relationships with them effectively. Supply Chain Management tools can allow firms to assess how reliable their suppliers are, considering factors like late deliveries, costs and defective goods. Sometimes suppliers let their standards slip. With the right management tools in place, you can quickly see if this is happening and make the changes needed to avoid disaster. 

Coordinate Relationships Between Businesses

Supply chains almost always involve more than one business. In fact, for complex products, they can involve five or more different firms, and all of them are part of the same process. This means that they all have an incentive to work together to ensure that the end product is successful.

However, coordinating suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers isn't always easy. Supply systems can often seem incredibly fragile when you think about the different links, and what can go wrong. But with the right IT systems in place, modern firms can provide every participant in the supply chain with the information they need. Manufacturers can keep track of both inputs and outputs, and fine tune their processes accordingly.

Inventory Management is Vital

Warehousing is one of the key parts of any supply system. This is the stage where manufactured goods and raw materials are stored, picked and delivered to customers or the production line. Because of this, inventories need to be slick, well designed and responsive to changing demands.

Modern supply processes can rapidly adapt to changing market conditions. When customer demands shift, warehousing managers can quickly change their stock levels and distribution systems, allowing new products to come on line quickly and without major disruption. Using tools like process manufacturing, firms can ensure that product lines can change, while the quality of the products remains the same.

Customer Service - the End of the Supply Chain

The end of the process comes when products are delivered to consumers. At this stage, a uniform, high quality product should have been delivered to wholesalers and retailers. Marketing teams should have been actively seeking out new customers, and retaining loyal customers so that the supply chain can consistently create value.

Customers are not the end of the process though. The chain may have ended, but information from customers is invaluable. If they start switching to other products or start complaining about the quality of your product, this needs to be transmitted along the chain so that issues can be addressed. With the communication and analytical tools included within Enterprise Resource Management packages, this kind of information transmission is easy.

Managing your supply chain doesn't have to be stressful. With ERP packages like WinMan, you can take charge of the whole process, from ordering raw materials to designing products and selling them to customers.

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Topics: supply chain

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