From demand to last-mile delivery, shipping logistics is a complex, hairy beast and has only gotten bigger and badder as modernization (e-commerce, cloud-based records, and communications) has largely dictated where the industry is going. Although rapidly evolving with certain obstacles that seem too difficult to overcome, the truth is there are highly valuable opportunities within these new challenges.
That’s why more logistics managers today are seeking to make an investment to collaborate with a supply chain partner. They have the depth of knowledge and tools to expertly navigate the landscape of modern shipping logistics. Whether it’s acquiring raw materials or executing on distribution to customers, a supply chain manager is honed in on activities that plan for, strategically control, and carry out product flow.
A supply chain partner is there to ensure your shipping logistics meet increasing customer demand for accuracy and ever-shortening timelines.
How to Choose a Supply Chain Partner
When you partner with the right supply chain manager for shipping logistics, they help to improve efficiency, mitigate the risk that can be found all along the supply chain, and truly drive productivity as well as profitability.
Since you’re here reading this blog, you likely have some questions about finding the right supply chain partner for your business. The following are some suggestions for things to consider as you begin to define your needs and how they need to be met:
- Identify Challenges and Map Them to Your Goals
By doing this, you are trying to find gaps, where certain supply chain challenges are impeding your ability to achieve your business goals (on-point delivery times, protecting profit margins and much-needed capital). This snapshot is helpful in knowing what services you need most from a partner.
- Pull In Team Members From Different Departments
Getting feedback from members outside of your own department is crucial to understanding where every problem resides. Inquire what is top of mind for members of customer service, distribution, and the C-suite, to name a few.
- Always Ask to See a Supply Chain Partner’s Customer Portfolio
In doing due diligence, you may easily see which prospective partner has experience in your particular industry, which goes a long way in knowing the right vendors and carriers along the supply chain.
- Get the Details on True Cost of Service
Depending on your needs, there are various levels of service and support a supply chain partner can provide. A good detail to get more information on is how scalable the partnership is to suit any changes to business growth.
Before partnering with a supply chain management firm for your shipping logistics needs, you ultimately must ensure the solution they are providing is in line with you business goals and objectives. If so, you’ll be rewarded with peace of mind that they are handling the challenges that used to hold your business back.
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The more complex the supply chain, the more every relationship expands: suppliers, customers, your customers’ customers, service providers, financial organizations, vendors, marketing research providers. The interrelated, complex web created from this is layered and vast.
Design complexity is the rule rather than the exception in today’s aircraft manufacturing industry, and it’s a good example of where shipping logistics is headed in terms of inventory management and sourcing. Everything from the construction material used (which may range from aluminum, to titanium, to composite materials) down to the specifics of the interior configuration are all designed to fit a certain customer’s requests and goals, such as increased passenger comfort or lower fuel costs.
This complexity in design is met with a diverse collection of suppliers around the globe. To lend some perspective, a single aircraft is made up over more than 1,000 parts. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has tier 1 suppliers (i.e. those suppliers most closely linked to the OEM) in more than a dozen countries. Then, push down-line to tiers 2 and 3 and you begin to see how exponentially complex the supply chain becomes; and with it, how a glitch in the pipeline can have a compounded effect on production.
More than ever before, airframers require access to information concerning inventory levels, location of parts, forecasted delivery dates, and PO fulfillment timelines – just to name a few. What began as the adventure of flight using wood and fabric has evolved into the JIT execution of critical parts and consumables from around the globe using forward stocking locations, near staging of VMI, and IT tools to manage and locate potential suppliers.
How to Get Executive Buy-In
As competitors get smarter about their supply chain visibility, you’re executives are naturally going to see this as a larger concern.
Speed-to-market can make or break a product, and logistics providers are helping to come up with creative solutions to win the race. Companies source their products globally and utilize active strategies to maintain JIT (just-in-time) inventory, allowing them to match production more closely with demand. This strategy comes with the risk of product not delivering, and the costs of people, resources, and lost sales associated therewith, so it is crucial to get it right. Executed properly, a JIT supply chain lowers overall costs and keeps the end customers from waiting on product.
Today’s industry buzz is all about furthering the integration between the logistics provider and client operations. Efficiencies may come from anywhere — accounting, invoicing, or the raw materials network — so it is important for us to try to understand every aspect of our clients’ organizations as much as possible. This type of collaboration originally started as requests for damage or cost reduction, and evolved into the partner-level sharing we see today.
Want to get your bosses to buy in? Think about these strategies first:
- Position Your Pitch Around Their Needs: Executives are looking at your shipping logistics landscape from a different view, and so, they see different sides of different problems. Take time to understand what they value and what goals they have — use that information to shape your pitch of how partnering with a supply chain management firm provides the solutions they are looking for.
- Don’t Be Afraid to Suggest Solutions: You know what bosses hate more than anything? When a manage poses problems without posing researched and vetted solutions. Know what solutions will solve their needs, know them deeply, and show how these solutions fit into the larger supply chain picture.
Devoting resources to a third-party requires big buy in, but if you can make a strong case for improved speed to market, ROI, and increased client retention, you’re speaking the language of your executives.
In today’s world of shipping modernization, the work of developing complex integrated planning and execution of processes that improve material flow, information, and capital is colossal.
To execute on the challenges faced in demand planning, sourcing, production, inventory, and transportation — all with the goal of accuracy and timeliness for customers — you need the right expertise, strategies and technological tools. Likewise, a supply chain partner is there to handle disruptions across the supply chain while keeping costs to a minimum.
With the right supply chain partner, you’re not only surmounting challenges but also remaining relevant to your customers, while also staying competitive in your industry.
What has been your experience with trying to get buy-in when it comes to partnering with a supply chain management firm?
Ready to discover the value of successful shipping management? Request pricing for shipping logistics projects from Pegasus Logistics.