Technology needs to be at heart of the supply chain

With the UK emerging from a recession and companies looking to attract and retain as much business as possible, they need think about how they can streamline their offering without incurring additional costs.

One way they can do this is by tidying up their supply chain. As Marshall Fisher, co-director of the Fishman-Davidson Centre for Service and Operations Management said: “Poor coordination among supply chain partners in the US wastes $30 billion annually.” While Fisher is talking about the US, a lack of co-ordination in the UK could have equally devastating consequences.

If businesses don’t have an efficient supply chain it can quickly translate into excess inventory, stockouts or even a loss of customers. Technology needs to be placed at the heart of the supply chain to make it more efficient.

To do so businesses need to work with the smart logistics companies who can structure their supply chain and have parts and tools sent out through a locker network for engineers to collect at a time and place that suits them. All in all, a locker is a bit of tin. Without the infrastructure and technology to back it up they are pretty much an expensive ornament. Using technology to streamline supply chains can allow businesses to keep stock of all inventory no matter where it is in the country. Having complete visibility in this way can allow businesses to become much more efficient; saving unnecessary journeys being made by engineers to collect parts and having multiple orders consolidated into one delivery. The best logistics companies will have parts delivered to a locker pre-6am and to a collection point no more than three miles from an engineer’s place of work so that they can fit more into their day.

One such business using tech at the heart of its supply chain is Costa Express. Operating self-serve machines in over 1,200 outlets across the UK, Costa Express relies on the ability to get broken coffee machines up and running as quickly as possible so as not to lose revenue. Working with logistics providers, not only can the business keep track of all stock across the country but Costa’s engineers can be sent a text notification when parts are ready for collection, ensuring they don’t have to wait around for a delivery which allows the business to run more efficiently.

Employing tech in the supply chain can hugely relieve the pressures customers place on businesses to deliver. A successful logistics network is all down to the ability to track, trace and route parts in real time, something easily achievable through the use of appropriate supply chain tracking technology. If businesses use them and work with logistics companies, they can be assured their supply chain will operate smoothly while they get down to the nitty gritty of the everyday running of the business, and can have the head space to plan bigger campaigns to keep them ahead of the competition.

Mark Garritt is managing director at ByBox

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