Tag Archives: supply chain

Supply Chain Strategy: 3 Options For Better Management

A strategy is a crucial part of any business, and it is even more important when thinking about a complex system like a supply chain. The term ‘strategy’ is often confused with what it’s not, or is considered to be a vaguely-meaning fancy word. However, businesses with a well-thought-out, long-term strategy reach and exceed their goals and are better at surviving turbulent times, compared to short-sighted management techniques.

What is a supply chain management strategy?

Supply chain management strategy is a set of decisions, choices, and ways of management that bring the most efficiency at a lower cost and protect the company from certain risks. Strategy in supply chain management involves deciding on supply chain structure, working models, suppliers, level of agility, products and locations, partners, transportation strategy, and more.

3 options to include in your supply chain management strategy:

1. Predictable planning

One of the key aspects of efficiency in supply chain management is demand-driven decision making. Bringing predictability into your supply chain can boost profitability and lower manufacturing costs. Predictable planning means investing in talents and technology to enhance analysis and data-driven conclusions that will allow you to forecast changes in demand and trace key trends in the market.

2. Agility and resilience

Recent events have shown that you cannot predict certain things, and market conditions are changing too fast. That’s why the most prominent strategy for modern businesses is building resilience and flexibility throughout their supply chains. This includes a variety of suppliers and partners, agile inventory, better cooperation between parts of the supply chain, and more. Rigid structures are fading away because flexibility lets you adopt new strategies faster, and survive shuffles in the market.

3. Integration

In order for a supply chain to be resilient, it has to be integrated. From production to retail, cross-cooperation in the supply chains is the cornerstone of efficiency. The more transparent and accessible operations and interactions within the entire structure are, the easier it is to see gaps and quickly fix arising issues.

Building a Resilient Supply Chain

Regardless of the circumstances, a company’s ability to survive disruptive processes and events is one of the key differentiators of a successful business strategy. The thing is, most companies start to realize its importance only when the storm already happens. In the majority of cases, risk management strategy sits far down the list of business priorities and often can be put on the backburner of business plans.

Today, there are more supply chain threats than ever before. And it’s not a matter of if a disruption occurs, it is a matter of when it occurs. Unpredictable events are called unpredictable for a reason, of course, but there is a systematic regularity of such ‘black swans,’ which is often neglected by the companies. Whether it is a natural disaster, the unexpected crash of the economy, or a virus outbreak, unpleasant processes are bound to happen at some point.

However, some companies appear to handle such disruptions far more successfully than others. This is because they have a strong, advanced risk management strategy when others don’t. Making your supply chain more resilient can help you strengthen your business and make it through a critical time.

How to make your supply chain more resilient?

In the business environment, resiliency means a company’s ability to recover and get back to normal operations, including the time this recovery takes to happen. By adopting certain practices, you can reduce the time needed to bounce back from serious disruptions, and minimize the damage.

Extend the network of suppliers

Good and trusted relationships with your suppliers are a key factor in a successful risk management strategy, even if you have a small circle of highly trusted vendors. However, it is more of an exception than a rule. If you don’t have complete visibility into your partnership with suppliers, it’s better to have more options to choose from. Usually, if a key supplier fails, it leads to a serious supply chain disruption. Having more partners you can turn to greatly increases your supply chain resilience.

Cross-mobility and standardization

Another useful practice for risk management is adapting standard procedures and layouts for operations and product manufacturing. Implementing identical techniques at all your facilities and adjusting inventory to having semi-ready products makes your supply chain way more flexible. This way, you can easily move production to another facility, or transport materials and workers among warehouses and factories, because core processes are the same everywhere.

Circular supply chains and visibility

Moving from linear, sequential supply chain models has been a trend in recent years, and that’s for a reason. Having a transparent, well-integrated supply chain keeps you in line with all the current processes happening, and allows you to define the problematic areas at an early stage. Visibility and simultaneous monitoring also speeds up responses to disruptive processes, therefore eliminating the damage.

Communication and empowerment

Corporate culture plays a crucial role in creating a resilient supply chain. The more aware and informed your employees are at all stages about the processes happening in the company, the more it helps you during a disruption. Companies with rigid centralized structures and shallow communication have to spend tons of time informing employees when it’s already too late, fixing their mistakes, and hindering the critical responses to disruption. At the same time, businesses, where workers are clearly aligned with the event flow and are empowered to make decisions and take action are more prone to faster, and more efficient recovery after a shake.

Analyzing previous disruptions

Learning through your own mistakes is the best way to prevent the same outcome in the future. Analyzing all the previous disruptions that occurred in your company’s timeline can help figure out weak spots and useful practices. Large disruptions are not the only ones companies can learn from. Small discrepancies happen every day, and the more experience a company has, the more it is likely to demonstrate good resiliency.

The Importance of Vaccine Supply Chains

Logistics and transportation powers almost every single industry in the modern economy, including the healthcare system. Transporting medication, hospital equipment, medical supplies, and different vaccines play a crucial role in global health care. Today, medical supply chains and their proper, smooth operation define the success rate of delivered treatment. One crucial branch of health supply transportation is the vaccine supply chain.

How does the vaccine supply chain work?

Essentially, the development and testing of vaccines is the key part. However, the process of transporting it, whether it is at a development stage or mass production, is often underestimated. Recently, the logistical aspect of vaccine production has been under the focus of the World Health Organization (WHO) and many organizations related to the field. Transporting vaccines requires the highest quality of transportation equipment, strict temperature control, and robust operations planning. For instance, cold bricks located too close to the product, or violation of climate control instructions often lead to a high number of wasted products. That’s why increased attention to vaccine shipments is required.

The vaccines supply chain consists of 4 key parts:

  • Product
  • Production
  • Allocation
  • Distribution

When speaking about the immunization supply chain, most people will think about the distribution part of an already prepared vaccine. However, the full cycle implies much more than just that. To fully understand which processes are included in this type of supply chain, it is important to know how the vaccine is actually produced.

Read: How Does the Coronavirus Impact Global Supply Chains?

What does it take to create a vaccine?

A vaccine is basically a lightened version or strain of the virus that is causing the disease. By injecting a mild dose of the virus that cannot grow into a full-sized disease, the human body recognizes a pathogen and start fighting it, eventually developing immunity to it. At this point, creating a vaccine sounds pretty simple, at first. But between taking the part of the virus and injecting it as an antidote, there is a long stage of vaccine development.

Researches need to receive accurate and undamaged samples of the virus. Then, they identify which portion or strain of the virus will be used, and start testing it on animals. Before scientists finally get a working product, and even more, get it into mass production, a decently long period of time has to pass, depending on the type of the disease and vaccine. For example, the estimated time to get a vaccine from the SARS-nCoV-19 is nearly a year. The situation gets even more complicated because many pharmaceutical companies and governmental institutions try to develop immunizations at the same time.

Testing and developing requires transporting research products multiple times to multiple locations. If we are taking the COVID-19 pandemic as an example, the vaccine is already being tested on humans. But are the supply chains reliable and organized enough to increase the speed and efficiency of the vaccine development? With vaccines being a top priority for governments around the world, air flights are still limited. More than 60 percent of medical shipments are carried on passenger planes, which significantly reduces air freight capacity not only for vaccines, but for essential medical supplies, like masks, gloves, protective clothing, and disinfectors as well.

With a general trend in making global supply chains more flexible, resilient and reliable, the focus will likely shift to healthcare supply chains as well.

How Does Coronavirus Impact Global Supply Chains?

The highly contagious virus known as COVID-19, which originated in Wuhan, China, has now been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. With hundreds of thousands of people infected globally, the coronavirus revealed itself as a huge threat not just for the health industry, but also to the global economy. Supply chains, in particular, are being affected by coronavirus.

Coronavirus impact on the global economy

One of the first to feel the damaging economical impact of the infection was the stock market. The UK index plunged more than 10 percent, making it the worst day since 1987. In France and Germany, the drop was even bigger, falling 12 percent. With Japan’s Nikkei 225 index settling at 4.4 percent lower, the U.S. shares experienced a significant drop on Wednesday, with the Dow Jones plunging by 5.8%. This is the greatest stock fall off since the 2009 financial crisis.

How does coronavirus affect global supply chains?

Such a substantial economic disruption couldn’t leave the supply chains and freight industry untouched. In fact, more than 75 percent of companies have declared their supply chains were disrupted by the unraveling of COVID-19. According to The Harvard Business Review, the peak of the infection hasn’t even started yet, at least in the U.S. It is uncertain what the final damage will look like. But supply chains need to take precautionary measures, and the sooner the better.

To stop the spread of the infection, governments are taking restricting measures to prevent further damage. Particularly, in the U.S., President Trump has suspended all travel from Europe to the U.S. for 30 days.

How to handle the coronavirus disruption:

Despite that the situation is uncertain, companies can take measures to hinder the damaging effect of the crisis:

  • Have an extended network of carriers and suppliers
  • Analyze and check the parties you are working with, define where exactly they ship from, is it safe, and what safety measures they are taking
  • Think of inventory in advance and buy more supplies if possible
  • Stay in touch with your customers and clients – make sure to provide them will all the necessary information about the changes in operations and other important factors.

With the majority of companies having suffered severe disruption due to this global phenomenon shows just how unprepared supply chains are to such events. Eventually, this proves that risk management, supply chain resilience, flexibility, and safety policy will be among top priorities and trends for businesses in the upcoming years. Most likely, the crisis in the economy will prolong and companies will need time to recover the operations, depending on the current damage they are facing.

5 Key Supply Chain Management Trends for 2020

Changing market demands and technological advancements are driving many transformative processes to the supply chains. There is a lot of noise and buzzwords when it comes to trends and technologies that will influence the way supply chains operate. Not all of them can make a huge impact, but there are a couple of supply chain management trends that will actually reshape modern supply chains.

What are the key supply chain management trends in 2020?

Focus on inbound freight management

Supplier relationships will become a primary focus for businesses, especially for retailers. Vendor management is an important aspect of supply chains that defines many factors, from on-time deliveries to your success in sales and customer satisfaction. Apparently, inbound freight management can also cost you way more than it should, if it’s managed and planned by the suppliers. Companies start to recognize the opportunities for improvements within supplier relationships and implement different solutions like vendor management retail programs.

Flexibility and integration

In the upcoming decade, global supply chains will also become more flexible. The need for agility is caused by the fast-paced and changing environment of the global economy. New supply and demand requirements, new trends, and technologies that need to be implemented cause companies to be more flexible in adapting innovations. Businesses who will be more quick and agile in adjusting to the trends are more likely to outrun the competitors and stay relevant in the market.

AI and automation

Certain innovations have already impacted supply chains, and the new decade is expected to bring more AI-driven solutions and advanced software. Technology impacts every link of the supply chain, from data analysis and storing to automated warehouses. AI-enabled software will definitely go from a buzzword to a must-have for global companies.

Circular supply chains

Also, global supply chains are shifting from linear models to circular. In a circular supply chain, unused products are recycled, and the general production cycle is shorter and more efficient. This lets companies save costs on materials and be more sustainable.

Sustainability

Essentially, sustainability and green logistics remain a hot trend in supply chain management. More companies become concerned about their reputation and brand reputation, so eliminating carbon footprint and taking different measures towards sustainability will most likely increase loyalty among customers.

A Decade in Logistics: 3 Shifts That Impacted Logistics

The past decade felt like everything has sped up. The economy, technology, and development of many industries have experienced a substantial jump in growth. For logistics and transportation, it has been a decade of huge and really significant shifts. Mainly driven by the steady invasion of technology, the industry was reshaped in many ways, including safety regulations, operations, and other important transformations.

What were the most important shifts in logistics throughout the decade?

The changing face of the trucking industry

Technology changing the industry is quite obvious, but the ways in which these innovations have influenced logistics and transportation are not. 10 years ago, trucking had a very different face. A huge jump in trucker technology made drivers’ lives easier, reshaped safety regulations, improved tracking, and data storing. With electronic logging devices (ELDs), truckers can accurately record their working hours, send and receive updates, and share records on their duty status. These technologies had a huge impact on safety regulations, such as shifts in Hours of Service (HOS) rules and many other policies tailored towards increased drivers’ safety.

Technology impact

Apart from the trucking industry, supply chains have also experienced a huge upgrade thanks to digital innovations. The development of robust, more advanced transportation management systems and similar applications have redefined the way supply chains are working now. Increased visibility, connectivity, data storage, and safety all make it much more efficient.

Also, many other tech innovations like IoT, blockchain, robotic devices, and autonomous vehicles have all made a recent decade very significant for the logistics industry. From top-level customer service and same-day deliveries to automated warehouses and self-driven trucks, the past few years have shown that the progress in the industry is speeding up.

The growing demand for 3PLs and outsourcing

Another important thing that the past decade has taught us is that more and more shippers are turning to 3PL service rather than arranging an in-house logistics department. From 2010 to 2018, the gross revenue produced by the U.S. third party logistics providers has doubled, going from $127 billion to $213.5 billion. Generally, outsourcing has grown in recent years. From deploying specialized software to using various outsourced services, companies are becoming more flexible, integrated, and collaborative in terms of logistics and supply chain management. Considering the rising costs of in-house logistics services, rising trade tariffs, fuel prices, and capacity issues, it became much harder to navigate transportation even for large and mid-sized businesses. All these factors made 3PL’s the best solution for transportation and supply chain management.

PLS Logistics Announces Chief Operating Officer (COO)

CRANBERRY TWP., PA (May 22, 2019) — PLS Logistics Services, a leading provider of transportation management services and logistics technology, announced the promotion of Joe Bielawski as Chief Operating Officer.

In his new role, Bielawski will oversee daily service performance, operations and help drive long-term growth initiatives. Bielawski has experience across all major shipment modes with a variety of contractual clients and over 20 years of leadership experience.

“Joe’s leadership has been instrumental in driving outstanding service performance in our National Accounts and Enterprise Business units, and he has extensive experience in leading operations and supply chain management teams,” Greg Burns, CEO of PLS Logistics, said. “Joe has an outstanding track record of supporting company growth and creating innovative customer solutions. With PLS experiencing another year of record growth, the time is right to further strengthen our leadership team and I am confident that Joe will be able to bring his outstanding operational culture across our entire PLS enterprise.”

Bielawski started his career with PLS in 1997 as a Logistics Coordinator. Since then, he has worked his way up to Director and was named Vice President of Supply Chain in 2015. He recently held the title of Vice President of Enterprise Solutions and helped PLS’ Enterprise and National Account divisions achieve new records for growth and service level performance.

“It’s exciting to see where the company started with a single office and regional presence to a nationwide provider of leading technology enabled supply chain solutions,” Bielawski said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to drive best-in-class operational excellence across our various shipment and service modes, as we continue our industry leading growth.”

About PLS Logistics Services

PLS Logistics Services is a leading provider of logistics management, brokerage and technology services for shippers across all industries. PLS handles millions of loads annually across all major freight modes: flatbed, van, LTL, rail and barge, air and ocean. The PLS carrier network consists of over 45,000 pre-qualified trucking companies along with Class-1 railroads and major barge companies. PLS has been recognized as a top 25 freight brokerage firm. To learn more visit www.plslogistics.com.

Media Contact:

Kelsey Magilton, Marketing Manager

(724) 814 – 5074

3 Reasons to Use a 3PL For Retail Supply Chain

With increasing competition in the retail market, it has become very challenging for retailers to efficiently manage their supply chains. Essentially, a smooth retail supply chain strategy is a fundamental part of a positive customer experience, and retail companies strive to reach the golden standard of order fulfillment and fast delivery.

The thing is, most of the retail companies are not experts at logistics and supply chain management, and they don’t have dedicated departments for this branch of business. So, to make their online and omnichannel strategy work, retailers turn to 3PL’s for help. According to Pinsent Masons study, 88% of retail companies that outsourced any type of operation to a 3PL were satisfied with the results.

When is the right time to use a 3PL for a retail supply chain?

Outsourcing logistics to a 3PL is a great step that can take a lot of responsibility off of your plate and let you focus on the main business goals. Apart from time and money savings, third-party logistics providers can offer many substantial benefits to your retail business.

Cost-efficiency

Many companies assume that outsourcing to a third party by default means spending more on service fees. However, all the efforts of a 3PL will eventually cost you less than an in-house supply chain management. Retail companies don’t have the negotiating power of a 3PL. Experienced providers work with thousands of carriers on special terms, and can offer you a much lower shipping price than the market average.

Additionally, a 3PL is a one-stop-shop for most of your supply chain needs. That means you don’t have to invest in warehousing, technology, and a logistics team. Ultimately, it’s cheaper to delegate logistics to the industry experts instead of learning every process from scratch and experiment on your own business.

Streamlined processes

Retailers have numerous distribution channels. Managing outbound shipments and consistently storing all of the data can be extremely challenging. 3PL’s take this burden away. Good logistics providers have special technology, like a transportation management system, where you can navigate any information on a certain shipment. In a dynamic world of retail, the ability to streamline transportation processes and track shipments is critical for a smooth business flow.

Flexibility

Another reason to outsource to a 3PL is their ability to adjust to your business needs. In most cases, 3PL’s provide an extremely wide span of services. You can outsource a single link, or an entire supply chain, and still be confident about the results. From transportation to inventory and returns management, you can always add up or take off operations from an outsourcing list.

Final thoughts

At the end of the day, customer demands set the bar of performance level for retail companies. Those who strive to succeed in the competition constantly look for ways to improve their business flow and efficiency. Eventually, more and more retailers turn to 3PL’s to take care of their supply chains and get excellent results while focusing on their core competence.

PLS Solutions for Retail Logistics

PLS can become a reliable and dedicated logistics partner for your business. Learn more about our Retail Logistics Services!  

How Does Supply Chain Management Work?

Supply chain management is a set of activities that includes supply, production, and distribution of a company’s goods. This production cycle plays an enormous role in any business. Proper supply chain management can reduce transportation costs and enhance productivity, and in order to succeed, companies should learn how supply chain management works.

What processes does supply chain management include?

A supply chain process can be described as a simple example: imagine a cake. First, raw eggs are transported from the farm to the grocery retailer. Then, the eggs are bought by a bakery to bake a cake. The cake is then either set out in the bakery or delivered to a grocery store to be sold to the final customer. All of the processes that stand in-between the raw egg and shelve-ready cake are classified as a supply chain.

So, how does supply chain management work? As a first look, the process can seem very complicated. However, supply chain contain many important key components that make it work properly.

What are the core components of supply chain management?

Transportation

Essentially, transportation is one of the main components that make the supply chain work. Transportation plays a crucial role in every step of product movement, allowing companies to focus on arranging well-organized, smooth logistics for their goods.

Communication and visibility

Supply chains are different in every industry. No matter if it’s a small local business or a large enterprise, supply chain management is a complex process. With so many links involved, it requires proper handling. Without efficient communication between manufacturers, suppliers, vendors, distributors, and retailers, supply chains would fall apart in no time. That’s why consistent communication between all parties is crucial for efficient supply chain management. Another essential part of a successful production cycle is visibility into the supply chain. That means you can easily access and analyze all the needed information to make strategic decisions.

Finance

A complex supply chain suggests high financial responsibility. Bills, invoices, and reports are key points you can’t run production without. Accounting plays a large role in supply chain management since all of the payments have to be documented and stored in a proper way.

Final thoughts

Of course, supply chain management involves numerous other activities and processes. However, the above listed are the primary parts of any supply chain. Today, companies constantly work to enhance their efficiency by applying various supply chain management practices and technologies. With more innovations and automation, it becomes easier to focus on the strategic part of the supply chain management than on its execution.

Learn more about our Supply Chain Management services!

How Efficient Transportation Can Strengthen Your Supply Chain

Supply chain management (SCM) is the heart of a company’s operations. Therefore, the company strongly depends on how smooth your supply chain is. Maintaining a robust supply management strategy is complex since it involves numerous processes that require planning and constant control.

What is supply chain management?

SCM is a complex process involving the organization and execution of product flow from the supplier to final customer in the fastest and a most effective way. 

The role of logistics in supply chain management

Supply chain management is often confused with logistics management. However, logistics is just a part of the supply chain. Also, transportation is one of the key components in the entire product flow, and it is more of a glue that sticks every part of the operations together. Therefore, a robust logistics strategy can contribute to increased efficiency and ensure your supply chain survives a long run.

How effective logistics can benefit your supply chain

One of the main challenges in an efficient supply chain flow is risk management and sustainability. All the efforts are steered towards balancing the quality and the final price, so for many companies, it becomes a struggle of cutting costs while providing a good service at the same time.

transportation for supply chain

For an efficient supply chain, companies work on developing robust transportation solutions. A transportation network allows a company to reduce shipment costs and increase service levels with little disruption to any processes. A smooth transportation process mitigates delays, provides visibility into freight shipping and saves your company’s budget.

Working with a 3PL

Companies have to impress customers and innovate processes. 75% of 3PL users say 3PL’s provide new and innovative ways to improve logistics effectiveness. Regardless of mode or freight volume, 3PL’s can assess and tailor solutions to a company’s needs. Through a 3PL, companies can gather transportation and logistics information to forecast accurate needs, influence supply chain decisions and can ultimately grow the processes efficiency and customer service.

Your supply chain is just as good as your logistics is. Developing a beneficial transportation strategy is essential for smooth product flow. Partnering with a 3PL can take a hassle out of your company and is more cost-efficient than creating an in-house logistics department.

If you need help and expert consultancy with your supply chain management, contact us now with any questions you have.