Optimizing Supply Chain Productivity: Overcoming Three Key Threats

Supply chain distribution centers ultimately have one overarching goal: get products to customers as efficiently as possible while motivating and encouraging their workforce to achieve greater performance. But as supply chain operations become leaner, even the smallest exception can cause a major disruption in a company’s material flow and labor efficiency.

Maximizing productivity

Many measurements help determine the overall efficiency and productivity of supply chains, including metrics measuring wave efficiency, optimal product flow and labor productivity. Today’s supply chain managers need to know data such as units picked per hour (by line or work cell, or better yet by individual) and where product flow is impacted – via exceptions like blocked chutes or missing totes – when and exactly where they occur. But at the same time, there are three big threats supply chain managers must overcome.

Threat No. 1

Not visualizing data in real time: Historical trends with availability, quality and performance data can be helpful. But supply chain leaders need to manage in real time – not in a “rearview mirror.” Looking at yesterday’s performance reports or even this morning’s performance does not always provide the right view of a business. With data that’s current, managers are better equipped to meet company goals. Real-time metrics can result in immediate decisions that impact today’s results before the shift ends and before overtime is realized.

Solution: Get the information to the right person at the right time. Don’t make managers leave the floor to access data that can impact today’s results before the shift ends and overtime is realized. Visible real-time data keeps managers and individual employees informed of key measures on an up-to-the-minute basis, fostering a more performance-driven and goal-based work environment.

Threat No. 2

Disparate and disconnected systems: Operations managers and plant managers rely on data. That’s how they live and breathe every day. But this data comes from multiple sources, and identifying and aggregating that data can be costly – not to mention overwhelming for those who have to use it.

Solution: Automated data retrieval can pull reports, synthesize  information and make the data actionable. Managers can easily visualize this information through a desktop dashboard, tablet or overhead scoreboard on a digital screen.

Threat No. 3

Information silos: In many organizations, information gets siloed in numerous ways and locations – both physical and virtual. Critical data resides within divisions, departments, vendors, channels, software platforms and personnel and isn’t shared across platforms. When that happens, you have pockets of knowledge and immediate decisions that are required can be dangerously delayed.

Solution: Whole-chain visibility keeps everyone informed and up-to-date. If a plant manager knows, for instance, that Line 1 has completed 100 percent of its tasks and work for the day, he can quickly move people to Line 2 and 3 so that those areas don’t fall behind. Complete information helps managers direct attention and devote time and resources to where they can make the biggest impact right now.

By collecting, analyzing, preparing, and presenting real-time information, your management and staff can immediately act to improve processes, maximize employee productivity and increase team morale with on-the-spot recognition. Don’t let these three threats falter your ultimate goal.