From Survival to Growth Mode with Supply Chain Best Practices
As we close in on the three-year mark since the pandemic began in earnest, we have begun to see the long-awaited shift from survival mode and putting out the latest fire to execution of key initiatives to mitigate future risk. Alongside risk mitigation, we have begun to see a number of clients take the overall approach to integrating cost savings within their risk mitigation initiatives. The result? Businesses are becoming more efficient and able to support growth in their respective companies through supply chain best practices.
The top three initiatives Rockfarm sees shippers focused on to mitigate risk, while positioning their supply chains for growth, include visibility enhancement, technology integrations and nearshoring. Each initiative contains a commonality that secures the supply chain against supplier and resource challenges while driving their cost to serve lower. The memories shippers hold dear from the past three years are still smoldering as embers. As a result, the visibility of the supply chain in motion has become a central theme for shippers.
Order Life Cycle Visibility
Order life cycle visibility goes deeper than the issue date of a purchase order. Today manufacturers, distributors and retailers alike are seeking greater visibility of the supplier’s “supply chain,” in order to identify an issue before it becomes a disruption factor. As a result of those efforts, the need to increase the visibility of the shipment life cycle has been a leading supply chain enhancement for companies. Gaining visibility to key metrics that include on-time shipment pick-up for each leg of a shipment’s journey is critical to see if there is a larger issue percolating upstream in the supply chain. Shipment visibility integrations have increased significantly with third-party integrations as well as direct connections with carriers, forwarders and non-asset providers alike.
The Implementation of a TMS
In addition, TMS technology providers are recognizing the need for multi-leg shipment visibility across a swath of transportation providers with heavier investment in development as well as acquisitions. The result is companies have an array of centralized visibility platforms to plug into and a direct connection to their carrier base to enhance shipment visibility.
Technology integrations have been a focus for supply chain best practices over the last two decades. Integrations in transportation, warehouse and order management software with a company’s ERP are commonplace. What has begun to take hold is dynamic integration whereby the reliance on technology to create efficiency becomes a much greater force in the company.
Transportation management systems are no longer viewed as being a tool for shipping, but rather a complement to the company’s ERP that eliminates touch points through workflow automation. Once this approach is embraced by executive leadership, the value plays less into the traditional rate value and leans more toward cost efficiency. Mitigating resource challenges and one source of information within the ERP as the transportation management system integration provides the shipment lifecycle visibility to the organization.
Foreign Direct Investment in Mexico
Since the NAFTA agreement was signed in 1993, Mexico has been a strategic trading partner with U.S. companies. Today, the partnership is growing stronger as more companies look to tap into Mexico’s manufacturing capacity. Strategically, utilizing Mexican suppliers shortens shipment transit times and reduces the geographic footprint of the supply base.
The inventory challenges during the pandemic heightened the sense of awareness of our supply network in Asia and its inherent challenges. Foreign Direct Investment in Mexico is growing since the pandemic with new participants including China. For the U.S., a strategic plan to engage directly with Mexican companies is critical to maintaining the visibility of its supply chain.
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By Brad Stewart
As a co-founder of Rockfarm, Brad drives our business development efforts and delivery of our promise. An Arizona native, Brad enjoys spending time outdoors in his home state with his wife and family.