8 Supply chain basics.
1. Improve Communication
What would happen if you ordered a large shipment of inventory in order to take advantage of a deal but forgot to tell the distribution center? If the proper information had been passed on in a timely fashion, overtime and last minute reaction would be avoided.
2. Understand your Operation In-Depth
Go through your everyday operations by mapping out the process flow completely. If this hasn’t been done yet, it will take an inordinate effort to map everything out; but it will pay off in the future. Once you have this built, it’ll be easy to maintain over time; but more importantly, it’ll allow you to visualize the whole process from start to finish. Does the current process map efficiently represent the process?
3. Recognize that You are in the “People Business”
You might not think it but logistics implies that you are in the people business. The job is not just about mapping out processes and optimizing them to your KPI’s; it’s also about team work.
Related: 4 Team building activities for any company
4. Focus on Internal Customer Service
There are two types of customers, internal and external. If you are part of the supply chain, you depend on several departments and several departments depend on you.
For instance, IT, Maintenance, Human Resources are suppliers to Operations. If IT doesn’t support with good systems or a fault tolerance plan, operations will fail. If maintenance doesn’t maintain a sorter and it goes down, Operations fails.
5. Remove the Barriers to Success.
Ask and listen. Barriers of success are simple issues that could change everything by tweaking one little thing; generally speaking executives are unaware these barriers exists, but associates know exactly what they are.
Some examples are:
Broken $150 printer in supervisor’s station. Supervisor was copying screen to paper. (Inefficient)
No batteries readily available. The IT control freak insisted on keeping extra batteries in his office which takes 15 minutes to get.
Associates tools weren’t organized well, creating a 30 minute search at the beginning of each shift.
Constant issues with the second shift because the first shift didn’t set up second shift for success and vice versa.
7. Take Advantage of Fresh Eyes!
Don’t let your ego get in the way. Although one should practice ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’, there is always room for improvement. Maybe something isn’t broken, but if by making some simple changes you can shave off a couple of steps in the process, why wouldn’t you consider it? Particularly if this change implies a substantial increase in productivity.
8. Stop Paving over Cow Paths!
Cow paths are natural paths that are created from frequent passerby’s, in this case, cows. Just like the previous point, there is no need to keep doing things because ‘it’s always been this way’. Listen, evaluate and apply (if applicable).