How to Improve Supply Chain Efficiency? X Best Practices

Supply chain optimization is one of the most critical challenges faced by modern companies. Enhancing the efficiency of logistics processes directly correlates with increasing a company’s competitiveness in the market. This article provides some suggestions on how to improve supply chain efficiency and boost company profitability.

A supply chain is an integrated network of units, processes, and activities designed to produce, transport, and deliver products from raw material to the final product. It encompasses various stages, including raw material sourcing, processing, production, storage, transportation, and distribution, up to the sale to the final consumer.

In the context of logistics, supply chain management refers to coordinating and optimizing these processes to increase efficiency and reduce costs. Technologies, data analysis and conclusions, as well as advanced methods of planning and monitoring implemented processes or their changes, play a key role here.

What Are the Types of Supply Chain?

There are several basic types of supply chains in logistics, including:

Direct Supply Chain: The simplest form, where the manufacturer delivers the product directly to the customer. For example, sellers of agricultural products who offer their goods directly on the market.

Indirect Supply Chain: In this case, additional intermediaries, such as wholesalers or retailers, appear between the manufacturer and the customer. This is a commonly used model in traditional trading.

Multi-channel Supply Chain: The company uses several distribution channels simultaneously to reach the customer. For example, a company can sell its products both in a physical store and online.

Integrated Supply Chain: Close connections and cooperation between individual supply chain participants are key. An example would be a company that collaborates with both suppliers and customers on a partnership basis.

Global Supply Chain: Operates on an international scale, with parties involved (producer, supplier, wholesaler, retailer, customer) located in different countries.

Optimization of Logistics Costs and Processes: Challenges

Nowadays, supply chains face numerous challenges that require not only advanced management but also process innovation and a flexible approach. So what challenges does modern logistics face?

Supply Chain Complexity: Globalization and the growing number of partners make supply chain management increasingly complex.

Balancing Costs and Efficiency: Companies aim to minimize costs through outsourcing and optimization, but they also need to ensure the quality of services to avoid discouraging customers.

Adaptation to Market and Technological Changes: The dynamic development of technology requires companies to constantly adapt and invest in new solutions, such as special software (ERP, WMS, TMS) or even artificial intelligence (AI).

Sustainable Development and Social Responsibility: More and more companies recognize the need to operate in accordance with the principles of sustainable development, which includes caring for the environment and ethical treatment of employees and partners.

What Is Supply Chain Optimization?

In practice, supply chain optimization is a complex task requiring both strategic thinking and the ability to adapt to changing market conditions. It also demands deep knowledge of logistics, management, and information technology.

What Is Supply Chain Optimization Based On?

Supply chain is based on several fundamental elements and strategies aimed at improving efficiency:

Supply Chain Warehouse: Effective inventory control allows minimizing storage costs while ensuring product availability for the customer. 

Efficient Transport: Optimization of transport types and transport routes affects the speed of deliveries and reduces transport costs.

Technological Integration: The use of advanced data monitoring and analysis systems allows for better planning and anticipation of needs, as well as a faster response to problems.

Presenting Customer Value: The ultimate goal is to provide the customer with a high-quality product in the shortest possible time and at the lowest possible cost.

In practice, optimization may require introducing organizational changes, investing in new technologies, or reorganizing relationships with suppliers and partners. It is a continuous process that demands regular analysis and adaptation to changing market conditions.

Ways to Optimize Supply Chain

What can be done to ensure that the supply chain operates efficiently and does not generate excessive costs? Here are four proposed solutions.

1) Measure Supply Chain Performance Using KPIs

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) allow you to analyze various aspects of your supply chain, enabling informed decisions and identification of areas for improvement.

Choose appropriate KPIs depending on the industry and company goals. Some most common KPIs to consider for measuring supply chain efficiency are:

  • Order accuracy rate
  • Warehouse efficiency
  • OTIF (On-Time In-Full)
  • Inventory turnover
  • Cost per order
  • Perfect order rate
  • On-time delivery rate
  • Fill rate

Regularly monitor and analyze them to react quickly if any irregularities are detected. Based on the analysis of KPIs, take appropriate actions to optimize the supply chain. Don’t be afraid to make changes and test new solutions.

2) Monitor the Flow of Information, Products, and Financial Resources

Physical flows are a primary source of costs in the supply chain. Improving transport and storage processes can reduce these costs. Actions may include optimizing transport routes, using cross-docking, switching to pallet combining, dock leveler springs and reducing the amount of consumables used for deliveries.

Modern technology solutions offer numerous opportunities to optimize information flows. Effective collection, analysis, and visualization of data enable the company to make data driven decisions contributing to operational improvement. Answers to questions about cargo location, means of transport, and delivery time allow for the optimization of the entire supply chain.

For companies operating internationally, control of financial transactions, including payments and orders, with effective currency exchange management is crucial.

3) Modernize Your Supply Chain with Technology Solutions

Modern technologies play a pivotal role in optimizing the supply chain by enabling better management of information necessary for effective control of physical, financial, and information flows within the organization.

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems facilitate the integration of information from various company departments, contributing to better coordination of activities and optimization of information flow. ERP systems group various functions, such as order management, invoice management, human resources management, or logistics, resulting in better control over organizational processes.

Transport Management System (TMS) software is used to manage and optimize the flow of products in the distribution chain. TMS enables the calculation of transport plans, ensures transparency of goods transportation, optimizes transport routes, and automatically informs customers about the progress of their orders. TMS systems also help monitor metrics for transportation consumables and optimize drive times and delivery plans.

4) Revise Your Purchasing Policy

Many experts in logistics recommend adopting a strict purchasing policy. When choosing suppliers, don’t just focus on costs; consider product quality and delivery times as well.

After receiving the delivery, carefully check the product quality. If you notice any defects or discrepancies, don’t hesitate to contact the supplier and file a complaint.

Monitor delivery times, and in case of delays, communicate with the supplier to find out the reason for the delay and get information about a new delivery date.

Long-term cooperation with suppliers is also a good solution. It can contribute to a better understanding of the needs and expectations of both parties, leading to improved product quality, shorter delivery times, and lower costs.

Summary

Supply chain optimization is a key element of every company’s operational strategy, where the main goal is increased efficiency and competitiveness in the market. Through the effective management of logistics processes, monitoring key performance indicators, and fostering strong relationships with suppliers, a company can achieve substantial cost savings and enhance customer satisfaction.