It’s no secret that global manufacturers are facing multiple challenges when it comes to their supply chains. With pricing constantly changing, lead times being unpredictable or unacceptable, and geopolitical issues to contend with, it’s no wonder that companies are continually scrutinising their supply chains. There are a lot of different strategies that manufacturers are exploring, including diversifying their supply, increasing stocking levels, and shortening their supply chains. Some are even looking at reshoring or near-shoring to bring suppliers closer to home. Others are interested in the concept of “friend-shoring,” which involves growing suppliers in markets that are considered stable, dependable, and share similar objectives. Although there is no cure for volatility in the supply chain, we can use technology to rapidly identify or predict disruptions, analyse alternatives, prescribe remedial actions, and automate responses. Technology also helps increase decision velocity, enabling manufacturers to mitigate the impact of interruptions and keep supply chains running smoothly. Four focus areas for manufacturers to build an efficient supply chain 1. Increase supply chain visibility and transparency: One of the biggest challenges that manufacturers face when it comes to transforming their supply chains is gathering timely and accurate data. To build an efficient supply chain, manufacturers need the transparency and agility that digital technologies can bring. Digital dashboards and analytics can help monitor the supply chain and identify bottlenecks and risks in real-time. Sharing data upstream and downstream of the supply chain can enable manufacturers to identify and address issues quickly, reducing the impact of disruptions. 2. Embrace cloud computing: Cloud computing provides a secure platform for manufacturers to connect digitally with all parties involved in the supply chain, giving them the confidence to share data in real-time. According to Gartner, enterprises will use industry cloud platforms to accelerate more than 50% of their critical business initiatives. 3. Use data analytics: Although manufacturers are starting to dip their toes into using data analytics and dashboards to monitor their supply chains, there is still much room for growth in this area. Efficient supply chain management requires quality data and affordable software that can analyse it in real-time. By analysing the data gathered, manufacturers, can identify areas where efficiency can be improved, reducing costs and mitigating the impact of disruptions. 4. Adopt innovative technologies: While dashboards and analytics are helpful in monitoring the supply chain, more sophisticated technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) can help predict and prevent disruptions. Manufacturers should keep up with the latest technological advancements to unlock the full potential of their supply chain. Optimising unique supply chains While the principles of supply chain efficiency can apply to most organisations, each supply chain is as unique as the businesses it supports. Every supply chain must include its unique blend of elements such as product mix, go-to-market objectives, and supplier management strategy that best fits its markets. Optimising an organisation’s supply chain requires tools that address end-to-end needs. From the initial planning of demand and needs to identify your sources to moving goods in and out of your operations, you need software that can: Create more accurate forecasts Maximise production capacity and minimise downtime Align supply with demand, including seasonal products Ensure regulatory compliance and quality standards Refine inventory placement within the four walls of the warehouse Achieve perfect order fulfilment; On-time, In-full (OTIF) Gain end-to-end supply chain visibility Although the uptake of digital technologies may be slower than is ideal, greater visibility, better analytics, and increased digital connectivity can all help build more resilient and efficient supply chains.