For two years now, the supply chain industry has been facing challenge after challenge. If it isn’t a ship stuck in Suez Canal, there’s a supply chain labor shortage happening, a pallet shortage, or rising shipping costs. “Supply chain issues” has become a household phrase in a way we’ve never seen before. Sometimes, it feels like it’s never going to end.
The honest truth is that no, things probably aren’t going to go back to normal anytime soon. We’re likely to see more challenges before everything finds a new equilibrium. But that doesn’t mean your supply chain is doomed to be unreliable, inconsistent, and unpredictable. If you’re finding it hard to keep your supply chain afloat, we’re here to help:
Have a Healthy Supply Chain Contingency
Let’s face it. There’s going to be a time that every possible thing goes wrong on the same shipment. That’s why you need a playbook that gives you the next best step to take at each juncture of your distribution network. A robust supply chain contingency plan will include turnkey relationships with secondary carriers in every region your network touches, budget allotments for regular maintenance and unexpected emergencies on vital equipment, partnerships with additional sources of warehouse labor, redundant temperature control systems, and so much more. By doing a thorough walkthrough of everything that could go wrong and creating protocols for it, your team can move quickly when everything does.
Invest in Supply Chain Careers – Not Just Supply Chain Jobs
For decades, supply chain positions were seen as a young man’s gig to put themselves through school. But those days are long gone. Now workers want stability and room for growth in long-term supply chain careers, which is great for logistics and warehouse business owners because it means less money spent training and hiring the endless wave of turnover. But providing more career-based positions means these same businesses have to offer a lot more to keep laborers in house than they used to. Do your due diligence when searching for a new supply chain partner to make sure they’re delivering on the salary and benefits workers need to succeed. This prevention can do a lot to mitigate industry challenges.
Keep Expedited Services Expedited
With all of the delays and uncertainty surrounding supply chains lately, many businesses have begun to rely upon expedited services for a much larger percentage of their shipments. This demand has driven up expedited prices by more than 400% in 2021, thereby creating delays in even expedited services. Instead, these same businesses could be saving money by increasing safety stock and replenishing shelves earlier. This allows them to resume standard shipping practices without concern if there is a delay. Then, you can feel rest assured that in times of dire need, expedited services will be there to pick up the slack.
Minimize Unnecessary Reverse Logistics
Reverse logistics happen, but they don’t always have to. By working with a rework services partner near a large distribution point, you can make adjustments to mishandled shipments quickly and at a reduced cost compared to re-shipping to and from the manufacturer. Rework service providers can refurbish damaged products, complete light assembly projects, re-kit existing products in new configurations, update product manuals, provide independent quality inspections, and more.
Work with Partners that Value Flexibility
Though supply chains are planned to run smoothly and at least semi-automatically, there are always going to be moments when the situation changes drastically and unexpectedly. This is why it’s vitally important to choose supply chain partners that emphasize their flexibility. You don’t want to be alone at 3 a.m. when freight moves on an older long-haul trucker and they have to rebalance their load before catching a plane.
These days, supply chains have a lot of moving parts moving unpredictably. It can take a lot to balance timing and keep customers happy. But there are solutions to the challenges we’re facing as an industry, and AFS is here to help connect businesses in need to them. If you’re looking for a way to create some stability in your supply chain right now, reach out to our team to learn more about options that may work for you.