Help for supply chain problems is available everywhere. It can be an extensive (and expensive) system-wide solution involving in-depth studies. Help can be an expert or two analyzing one manufacturing line and using that data to project improvements or a team of consultants studying entire work process. Hiring experts can be a major investment for a small manufacturer.
Experts in manufacturing processes have been studying supply chain variables, among many other machining and assembly statistics, since the 1900’s or earlier. Analysis of the chain is an important first step. The supply chain is fluid and changes easily. Every changed link affects all the links in the chain, or at least the link before and the link after the changed one.
If you look at a machining operation, a deviation in hardness of the incoming material by just a small percentage means faster cutting tool usage and longer grinding times. The entire timeline is thrown off by the one deviation in a particular material. With this in mind, it is easy to see how important it is to know the consequences of changing part of a process. Experts analyze all known variables in a link and in the chain. Once the study is complete, most analysts recommend solutions that will speed up operations, reduce waste and otherwise lower costs. Solutions can be simple or complex, but usually involve training, adding personnel or renovations in the plant. A good solution could include all three. As everyone who owns a piece of machinery knows, keeping it up to date and efficient is an ongoing, expensive process.
Redundancy is another important factor when altering supply chains. After analysis is finished but prior to implementing major changes in suppliers or operations, manufacturers must be sure they can “revert” to the original process map temporarily. This idea is exactly the same as having a backup of your computer hard drive, or being able to restore a computer to a previous point.
Support by software
Speaking of computers, we can’t imagine a modern factory, however small, running without a good computer system that has built-in redundancy. Much or all of supply chain operations can be monitored and recorded with supply chain management (SCM) software. Not only does software categorize products and operations, but it can analyze deviations. As we learned (see supply management here), deviations in process are errors that produce waste, and that costs time and money.
Computer programs are then used for continuous monitoring. Software can keep track of warehousing, shipping, receiving, invoicing and machining operations. In the case of the supply chain, however, the most important data show the deviations in the system. When advisors finish the manufacturer’s supply chain analysis, with spreadsheet and flowcharts, they will probably offer several solutions. Pick the one that best reduces time, waste and defects.
In a this article, we have discussed supply chain careers. One important job in every manufacturing environment is the operations manager in charge of continuous improvement. He or she could be a software engineer, personnel manager or manufacturing manager. This person must always have the big picture in mind while being able to micromanage each operation in the plant. This is where software becomes so important. It can be used to tie all the systems and data together for use by the continuous improvement manager. But it is only one tools used for analysis.
Every plant employee must become a cog in the ongoing process of quality improvement. Because each person is responsible for their operation and is always looking to improve, his information becomes even more valuable than the aggregate reports of software programs. No supply chain is known to have zero defects. Working toward that end is always a work in progress.
You can find out more information on different fields in Jobs in Supply chain article.
OperationsManager.com Supply Chain Specialist