Wednesday, May 13, 2015

For Niche Business Fields, Consider a Supply Chain Consultant with Industry Experience

Jamie Saltos, Kapco Global
Whether you are a local business or a global enterprise, if you spend time moving a product from point A to point B, figuring out the best way to manage your supply chain is critical. And while it may not be the most glamorous part of your business, the thoughtful orchestration of purchasing, inventory management, product delivery and logistics can mean the difference between success and failure. In industries such as component manufacturing and distribution, where the part or product is one cog in a larger operational machine, an upset in delivery capability and response time can have repercussions that reverberate down a string of interdependent businesses, with the end result being a negative experience for a customer you may never see.
To keep this from happening, businesses often hire third-party consultants who strategically improve internal supply chains with an eye on higher levels of efficiency, lower overall costs and increased productivity. But when it comes to complex niche industries, not any supply chain consultant will do. In order to get the most from those consulting bucks and to make sure any strategic planning will go the distance, it’s often a good idea to hire a consultant with a proven track record and a reputation for know-how within your industry.
This particular brand of supply chain expert understands the constraints and opportunities unique to your industry and the locations in which you operate. They are current on trade regulations and quality assurance laws pertaining to your components and the larger machinery for which they are built. They understand the needs and goals of not just your clients, but also your client’s end users. This knowledge allows expert consultants to identify gaps in your business processes and help you develop effective strategies to close these gaps in the most efficient way possible without any negative impact to the bigger chain of which you are part.
A real-world example of this comes from the commercial aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry. Millions of people each year across the globe depend on well-functioning MRO departments, as these departments are responsible for procuring, housing, delivering, repairing, replacing and upgrading thousands of aircraft products and parts each year. These departments are responsible for the safety and maintenance of the aircraft that keep us traveling safely and without delay. Global commercial aviation MRO departments must be able to coordinate across continents while always maintaining a critical emphasis on safety, regulatory compliance and timeliness.
This means the MRO component suppliers servicing this industry must have their act together, and any supply chain consultant brought in to help must have a deep understanding of how the entire chain links together, in addition to having an assimilative knowledge regarding the needs and goals of all potentially impacted parties.
An expert consultant should be able to strategize for the effective distribution of a component without exposing the supplier to undue risk. And because the timely delivery of components is of paramount importance, consultants should have a solid knowledge of how the MRO industry is growing at this moment, while looking forward to potential changes that the world economy could have on MRO departments in the future. Meanwhile, that same consultant also needs to keep an eye on government regulations, international shipping laws and updates to industry standards that, if ignored, could jeopardize a supplier’s entire operation.
Strategic global supply chain management is complex and multi-faceted. Placed within the landscape of a heavily regulated niche industry, it becomes even more complicated. Tapping into the competence and expertise of an industry-specific supply chain consultant can be one way to make sure no detail is overlooked and each business along the greater chain is accounted for. It can also shorten the onboarding process, which can help get your business where it wants to be quicker and more efficiently—which is, after all, the point of supply chain management in the first place.
This guest post is written by Jamie Saltos, marketing director for Kapco Global. Follow them on Twitter @Kapco_Global.
Full disclosure, I received no compensation for posting this article.  

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