A supply chain consists of anything and everything that works to move a product from a supplier to a customer. As products pass through the supply chain, they tend to change hands multiple times. It can sometimes be difficult to keep track of the products making their way through the supply chain, which is where visibility comes into play. The goal of supply chain visibility is to allow items to be easily tracked as they are passed along. Knowing where a product is at all times can be extremely advantageous to a business.
Visibility throughout an entire supply chain allows a company to see where issues lie, or where improvements can be made. This knowledge can save a company a lot of time and money. Here are a few specific ways visibility can improve the supply chain:
Greater visibility leads to a much better understanding of inventory. Oftentimes, inventory management is an inexact science; guesswork is unreliable and can lead to miscalculations. If a business is able to determine exactly how much of a product is in stock, many problems can be avoided. Not having enough of a product in stock is always a shame – it makes a business look unprepared. Having too much of a product in stock is safer, but it also means taking up extra space for no reason. Visibility in the supply chain can save money, and it can also save space in a warehouse.
Visibility in the supply chain can help a company gain a better understanding of where they spend their money and what products are making the most money. Being able to take a closer look at spending habits allows a business to understand where improvements can be made. Once a business can see where money is being spent, it can start determining where money should be spent.
In order for visibility to reach all parts of a supply chain, technology is going to have to be embraced. Technology does not have the limitations people do. Certain devices, like barcode scanners, can transmit information instantaneously. When information can be instantly sent to all parts of a supply chain, visibility is at an all time high. Technology can also speed up the supply chain as a whole. If information can be sent instantly, every process in the supply chain can be completed faster than ever before.
It is important to remember that every business is unique. Visibility might mean different things to different businesses. When working together, it is important for businesses to seamlessly move along the supply chain. If visibility has infected every portion of the supply chain, it should be fairly simple for businesses to work together.
At times, the supply chain can become unorganized and hard to navigate. Allowing each and every process to be tracked really opens up visibility and helps businesses make intelligent changes. These changes can lead to a much quicker, inexpensive supply chain. With luck, the days of the supply "chain" will pass, and be replaced with a smoother ride. Visibility is only the first step; it is up to business owners to make the right decisions with their supply chains.
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