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The past couple of years has highlighted that manufacturers need to up their game to overcome the many challenges within their industry, including fragmentation, poor visibility, and overcomplicated logistics. There’s also been a rise in the purchasing power of consumers, placing increased pressure on businesses to deliver products that are high quality at a lower cost.

Let’s take a look at what your business must do to ensure your supply chain remains robust, resilient, and adaptable:

  1. Have better cost control
  2. Improve your relationships with suppliers
  3. Enhance your quality control processes
  4. Gain better management over your data
  5. Tighten your security processes

1.  Have better cost control

The result of nationwide lockdowns and Brexit has led to the soaring prices of raw materials, and with the additional pressure of the recent fuel crisis, manufacturers will need to take this into account when ordering more stock. If you have poor cost control within your supply chains, this could lead to:

  • Forecasting issues – if you lack the required visibility of anticipating change within the market and suppliers decide to raise their prices, this will reduce your profitability
  • Lack of flexibility – without analysing productivity and efficiency measures in specific areas of your production lines, you’ll struggle to identify where you can reduce costs, resulting in less flexibility to adapt to new processes

agile supply chain

Businesses can develop a plan to create an agile supply chain, with one that includes their entire network of vendors and suppliers to improve cost control. If any costs have increased within your production lines or sourcing materials, you can identify this by having full visibility of your processes, allowing you to react quickly.

2. Improve your relationships with suppliers

Having a strong relationship with your suppliers increases trust, reduces the risk of waste and errors within orders, and enhances your ability to resolve issues such as delays.

One of the biggest challenges businesses have to overcome with their supply chains is order fulfilment. If a supplier is running late with delivering stock and they aren’t aware of this, for example, it could lead to delays within their production lines. Here are some ways you can prevent this and strengthen your supplier relationships:

  • Give sufficient notice when you need to restock – if you’re noticing an increase in demand for a particular item, notifying your suppliers sooner rather than later gives them time to restock their warehouses
  • Be open with your suppliers - a study found that 70% of supply chain decision-makers experienced disruptions due to the pandemic. Open communication and a level of transparency between you and your supplier provide opportunities for a swifter resolution to mitigate disruptions and strengthen your overall relationship
  • Be reputable and consistent with payments – failing to pay your suppliers on time may mean they won’t be as receptive to your next order as there’ll be no trust in the relationship. Therefore, being consistent and keeping up to date with payments improves the likelihood of building stronger, long-term relationships

agile supply chain

3. Enhance your quality control processes

As we mentioned before, more customers are after products that are higher quality, making it essential for manufacturers to enhance their production lines to ensure any defects don’t go unnoticed. However, due to the number of products produced on a daily basis, this can lead to challenges around traceability and consequently, could lead to damaged reputations from unsatisfied customers.

To overcome challenges with managing quality control, you can hold unscheduled equipment use tests. This ensures your employees are able to use the machinery safely and effectively, allowing managers to analyse how proficient your teams are at completing day-to-day tasks.

4. Gain better management over your data

The increased complexity of fragmented supply chains around importing and exporting materials poses a challenge, especially if you have multiple warehouses and sites globally. A report found that 62% of companies have limited visibility of their supply chain, showing just how much of a role the right technology can play with effective data management. Microsoft Cloud for Manufacturing can help you:

  • Gain real-time visibility of data, from production lines to warehouses
  • Access smart manufacturing, providing you with better control over your stock levels
  • See if there are any delays with suppliers

Find out more by clicking here.

agile supply chain

5. Tighten your security processes

Trying to keep track of all the information within any global business is a headache - especially in manufacturing. There’s numerous suppliers, vendors, and relationships you have to manage, in addition to keeping on top of your internal data. Security incidents can take place within any tier of a supply chain, and mitigating security risks is a massive challenge facing manufacturers today.

However, businesses can learn from best practices such as access management, which limits the users who can access your sensitive information, mitigating vulnerabilities. With the help of appropriate technologies, this can help you tighten security processes and increase trust across your supply chain.

Learn more about how your business can overcome supply chain challenges

In our report, we explore how manufacturers like you can be better prepared to overcome supply chain challenges through the use of digital technology. We also outline the importance of digital transformation, and how it can make businesses more agile and adaptable towards sudden changes in the environment.

Interested? Get your copy below.

Discover your roadmap to digital transformation

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