When coordinating procedures in a complicated supply chain, a manager can achieve the best success by turning to principles of agile thinking, a philosophy of production that was perfected and made famous by Toyota. Agility promotes lean operations, the use of fewer resources, quick customer responses, and adaptability.
Overall, the pro-agility mindset favors cutting out the superfluous and the unnecessary to achieve lower costs without compromising quality. This usually results in happy customers and a leg up on the competition. Since logistics is really about supplying the demands of customers in the most efficient and rational way possible, agile thinking is a natural fit for any supply chain management. Many managers shy away from adopting and using this supply chain philosophy, however, because they don’t know how to make the shift. Below are tips.
INSTITUTING AGILE THINKING IN YOUR COMPANY
Identify defects in production:
High quality production is the hallmark of agile thinking. With a focus on customer satisfaction, agility managers must first assess where any deficiencies in the products lie. Sources may include poor materials, fake materials, old equipment, outdated technology, poor workmanship, insufficient training, improper section management, or the absence of a quality control system. The product should go beyond the standards listed in government industry regulations and satisfy customer requirements for values such as sustainability or fair trade concerns. No additional work on agility can be done until logistics experts make refine production so that it can deliver blemish free products.
To eliminate excess, agility managers insist on only producing what is demanded by the customers. This can mean a number of things. Some supply chain management experts use research to get a realistic picture of what particular wares are in demand by specific audiences in specific locations. Others do not start production until they have customer requests and orders in hand. They do not try to shape the tastes of customers by making products and hoping there will be customer demand. Agile thinking and lean production do not require customization, but customization is definitely a trend encouraged by many logistics managers. Many companies try to be flexible and adapt their products to the styles and features that customers request. This may delay delivery but it the quality is top-notch, customers will not mind.
Create an efficient system for inventory
Logistics managers should maintain a small amount of inventory, generating more products only when needed. This requires an inventory system that can provide real-time data about what orders are on hand and what products are on hand.
Manage manpower through space design
A key to achieving agility is ensuring employees do not waste time and effort by moving throughout the plant too much. Equipment that needs to be used in sequence should be clustered together. Workers should have assignments that keep them in one general location. The general design of the plant should be tailored to the product niche; don’t move into a plant and adapt to the original environment.
Make transportation more efficient
The logistics of getting products to vendors should be refined. Supply chain management experts should deliver products in small batches, agree to drop off locations that are near the production site and communicate with vendors prior to delivery with notices that identify contents and time of delivery.
Reduce wait time
To ensure lean use of time, supply chain management should synchronize procedures. Create a rhythm where one process harmonizes with another process and is always completed at regular intervals.
Understanding the culture of agility is the job of everyone in the supply chain; managers at each level should use agile thinking and have authority to make changes to create a faster and more streamlined system.
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