How to Improve Supply Chain Visibility

How to Improve Supply Chain Visibility

One of the best ways to enhance the performance of your supply chain operation is to improve visibility. That means knowing precisely the location of products, freight and inventory no matter where they are along the chain.

The advantages are obvious:  besides controlling your shipments and orders in a complex global environment, real-time visibility introduces opportunities to reduce inventory and mitigate risk that could crop up if you are unaware of the status of your freight. 

A global supply chain can be a knotty operation.  Visibility helps remove the knots by improving the speed and accuracy of shipments, putting a clear focus on products and supplies that are in transit or in house and enabling supply chain managers to intercede when kinks show up that will slow progress or increase costs.

There are numerous platforms on the market that help companies establish global supply chain tracking systems.  They can be very effective and – depending on what you need -- very expensive. 

There are, however, a number of direct strategic actions every company can take to improve visibility within the enterprise.

Reduce Complexity:  Look for ways to streamline operations to eliminate as many “moving parts” as possible.  The more efficient and practical your processes become, the more visible they will be.

Eliminate the Silos:  Improve cross-departmental communication by sharing information and increasing internal transparency.  Discuss challenges and opportunities at staff meetings and ask for help and cooperation.  Supply chain visibility improves when everyone in the company has access to the same information.

Improve Internal Metrics Collection and Distribution:  Reduce the lag time between data collection and distribution, or sharing.  A systematic collection and dissemination of information across the supply chain will reduce chaos, mitigate the risk of mistakes and last-minute catastrophes, help establish a close-knit team and ultimately increase visibility.

Enhance Transparency and Cooperation with Suppliers:  As a customer, you are owed complete and timely access to information about your orders and deliveries and all supplier operations that impact your productivity, service levels and profitability.  Look for suppliers who share your philosophy and can enhance the visibility along your supply chain by giving you real-time information about product orders and deliveries.  

“We know that our clients operate much more efficiently — and so do we —when we share information before and during shipments.  We listen to our clients; we closely monitor the movement of all shipments so we can anticipate challenges, plan contingencies and partner with them to make logistics and freight shipment decisions that ensure safety, speed and cost control,” said Chris Cser, ICAT Logistics DTW Operations Manager and Director of International.

“As parts and supplies move through the supply chain, inbound and outbound, our team is positioned to partner with our clients, sharing first hand and in real time the location, condition, progress and disposition of their goods,” Cser said.

“It’s a simple formula -- there is a direct correlation between supply chain visibility and our ability to meet our customers’ needs and expectations.”

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