Creating Supply Chain Visibility

The concept of "supply chain visibility" has become increasingly important in warehouses and distribution centers in America. This term refers to the ability for different sectors of a supply chain to keep track of one another's progress in real-time. Doing this not only increases the efficiency of the production line, but it also decreases the chances of errors resulting from miscommunication. In the guide below, we will look at some of the components necessary for supply chain visibility and how they are utilized in the logistics industry.

Cloud Based Technology

Perhaps the most fundamental aspect of supply chain visibility is cloud based technology. By putting information "into the cloud," logistics experts are able to send information to one another within seconds. The cloud also provides a backup for the data in case it ever needs to be retrieved in the future. Each sector of the supply chain can upload information to a singular, uniform network from anywhere at any time. This speeds up communication tremendously.

Processing Multi-Business Workflows

Warehouses today are not limited to working with one or two businesses. Rather, they must carry out the tasks of multiple businesses in a steady, streamlined fashion. As part of the goal to reach supply chain visibility, distribution centers must be able to integrate these workflows with one another, which still adhering to the security and data transfer restrictions set out by each business. It takes a delicate balance and careful planning to make all of this work, but the end result is an efficient warehouse that runs like a well-oiled machine.

Preparing for Worst Case Scenarios

Problems are going to happen in a warehouse, no matter how much you try to prevent them. Humans and machines are both prone to errors over time. The best way to ensure efficiency during these times is to set up protocol for worst case scenarios. In other words, you need to have a path already in place in case something goes wrong. That way when something does happen, your workers can take the steps necessary to correct it and move forward.

Note the role that the cloud based technology mentioned above plays in handling worst case scenarios. When an issue arises, managers can notify other members of the supply chain the moment something goes awry. If the other sectors of the supply chain have a role in the mitigation of the problem, they can get to work right away. Production will resume as quickly as possible.

Appropriate Visibility for Different Workers

"Visibility" does not mean that every member of the supply chain needs access to all of the information within it. Owners and managers should determine who needs to know what and adjust their technologies accordingly. For instance, a picker at the foundational level of the supply chain would only need information about processing specific orders, while an overseeing manager may need to see all of the orders for all of the pickers on his crew. Assigning different levels of visibility to different members of the team will minimize confusion and maximize efficiency across the board.

Making Adjustments over Time

As with any business, supply chains are dynamic creatures that are constantly changing to meet the needs of their clients. A distribution center needs to be able to adjust to these changes so they can keep their supply chains running strong. This may mean converting to newer, more modern technology, or it may require a restructuring of the crew or the warehouse itself. Whatever the case may be, it's important to be willing to adjust as needed to maintain visibility and productivity no matter what.

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