Uncovering Vulnerabilities in Your Supply Chain

warehouse

A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. This saying also holds true when it comes to the network of vendors, third parties and even governmental entities that combine to make up your supply network. Finding flaws and vulnerabilities now can minimize the likelihood that they will lead to interruptions, product damage or communications misfires down the line.

UNDERSTAND VULNERABILITY SOURCES

Your supply chain is susceptible to any number of threats. The most common include:

• Vulnerabilities with your suppliers;

• Natural disasters or economic factors;

• Limited redundancy;

• Failure to identify and address vulnerabilities ahead of time;

• Failure to diversify;

• Outsourcing to locations susceptible to natural or human-made vulnerabilities.

Clearly, some of these factors are more controllable than others, but the more information you can gather about each, the better prepared you will be.

CONDUCT THOROUGH SUPPLY CHAIN PROCESS FLOW MAPPING

The term “supply chain” suggests that the route from raw materials to NKK Switches’s electromechanical switches to finished products is straight and uncomplicated.

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In reality, your supply network is a complex web of intertwining parts: vendors, lawmakers, regulators and third- and fourth-party entities. You can no longer afford to limit your understanding simply to your primary vendors because weaknesses can be found anywhere in the maze.

Supply chain mapping takes months and sometimes longer to conduct and can be costly and time-consuming. However, it is one of the best uses of resources your company can undertake in ferreting out vulnerabilities.

BRING WAREHOUSE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS ONBOARD

To clarify intricate networks and streamline production, one of the best tools can be found in warehouse management systems. When combined with automated technology, this mechanism can help you to optimize your business processes, reduce redundancy and maximize efficiency.

Let the data do the talking

Just as the wind whistling under your door can reveal inefficiency in your home’s winterization, measurable data about your supply network can help you to spot issues.

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Using surveys, audits and other assessment tools, you can gather intelligence about whether well your outcomes fell short of, met, or exceeded production and cost goals. Since quantitative data is the best gauge of success or potential problems, it should be measured regularly and often and be transparent to stakeholders throughout the organization and supply chain on a need-to-know basis.

CONDUCT REGULAR SWOT ANALYSES

Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) are factors that combine to provide your team with a panoramic picture of your supply chain, including its vulnerabilities. If you utilize the same approach in examining your vendors and then combine your findings, you can obtain an even clearer picture of your overall risk map. As a result, your company’s buying power can be enhanced when lost opportunities are identified to ensure that the situation is not repeated. With more accurate and complete vendor information in hand, your team can also examine product quality lapses and delivery delays to come up with remedies or, in the worst case scenario, opt to terminate the relationship altogether.

Supply chain flaws may come from numerous sources, many of which involve secondary, tertiary, and even fourth-party vendors. Implementing solid strategies to identify and reduce the impact of these vulnerabilities is a crucial task for electronics products manufacturers operating in the current global milieu. If you have been putting off focusing on this need, the time has come to gather your forces and get off the dime.

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