Innovation is at the heart of many different kinds of success. For supply chain management, innovation means making a business more efficient by improving the way inventory and logistics are handled. There are currently a number of innovative techniques for supply chain professionals looking to improve the function of their business.
1. Incorporate Augmented Reality Tools
These tools generally come in the form of glasses or goggles that are worn by supply chain workers who are responsible for placing and picking inventory. For example, SAP’s augmented reality apps will allow workers to receive instructions visually and to handle data entry by scanning or speaking.
Research has shown that applications like these may be very effective for supply chain purposes. Active Ants, a shipping company in the Netherlands that used custom stocking applications for Google Glass for a week, found that these applications increased both the speed and accuracy of warehouse workers. In the coming years, augmented reality tools could drastically change the way supply chain workers operate, which could in turn alter common supply chain management approaches.
2. Adopt a Data Dashboard or Analytic Tool
Many logistics professionals struggle with the way that the information they work with is presented. They might have one set of data in a single program or file, while other important data is in a totally different place.
One of the easiest ways to resolve this challenge is to incorporate a dashboard or data analytic tool into your daily supply chain management operations. By doing this, you will have an easier time keeping track of critical supply chain metrics such as order accuracy, shipping time, and ticket creation. A dashboard program will also make it easier for you to compare your performance against key benchmarks so that you can determine whether or not your organization is performing properly or falling behind necessary production levels.
3. Strategize Outside Your Current Boundaries
Many companies that are thinking about ways to innovate their supply chain are focused on what they can do within the current partnerships and arrangements that they have. What some supply chain professionals fail to think about is how they might be able to forge new arrangements within their supply chain to improve productivity and do a better job of meeting their target benchmarks.
For a good example, consider the case of Harman Consumer Group. Harman’s task was to more effectively export its audio parts out of China, the country where a majority of these parts are produced. By identifying a strategic area of China that was classified as a free trade zone, Harman was able to improve its supply chain by boosting the efficiency of its shipments out of the country.
4. Improve Your Operating Techniques
There are all types of companies looking for the latest equipment and technology to make their supply chain division more effective. However, what some companies unfortunately neglect is the way that their supply chain team actually operates.
One way that many supply chain professionals have been able to improve efficiency is through incorporating a Japanese philosophy of business improvement known as Kaizen. Kaizen is a process philosophy that emphasizes teamwork, lean manufacturing, and allowing employees to provide input on the process. Kaizen has been utilized by major companies like Toyota and Lockheed Martin, in an effort to improve the production part of their supply chain.
These are some of the innovative techniques for supply chain management, but they are only a limited sampling of what is possible. If you are looking to make your supply chain as efficient as possible, be sure to stay abreast of developments in the industry that could help you greatly improve the structure of your supply chain.