The Keys to Success for Supply Chain Management


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By the end of this article, I will have provided a guideline to help you achieve supply chain management success. But first, let’s walk through the key components and issues regarding this challenge. Along the way, we will offer some suggestions and action items mostly for customers to store in their memory banks. After all, the customer is the one we need to satisfy.

I recently spent some sales road time with a Midwest distributor of PCB supplies. During the two-hour drive to a customer’s plant, we discussed our beginnings in the industry. My distributor companion told me that he started as a teenager and his father immediately put him on the road to deliver product directly to any customer that needed it—rush! He would set out and arrive at the customer’s loading dock or receiving area to be met by a plant employee who was usually waiting for him. Today, many years later, he still visits the same area accounts in one capacity or another and everyone knows him by name and trusts him. This, quite simply, is customer service.

The phrase can be stated two ways: customer service or service the customer. Either way it is one of the life forces of a successful business. This concept not only begins a supply chain but stays throughout—to the very end. This article will explain key partner relationships and how they must work to gain each other's confidence. Each of us are so concerned and focused on our own needs that many times we forget to be aware of the goal and maybe even the other side’s, shall we say, anxieties. The more we know about each other, the better.

Key issue: The product and the supplier

When it comes to results, the most important requirement is the product. When a distributor is awarded a tier one product from a tier one supplier, 50% of the goal has been accomplished.

The remaining 50% is now up to the distributor to minimize all the remaining obstacles along the supply chain path and get that product to the customer on time.

The first endeavor is to start with certainty. In my former manufacturing world, if we started to make a printed circuit board with a defective phototool or database it was the beginning of wasted costs and hard times ahead. In our supply case let’s start with a good product. Now the road is already paved.

A tier one supplier probably doesn’t reach that status without a quality product. The product is everything and its quality dominates the vitality of the supply chain. Top quality ensures minimal manufacturing process intervention and everyone along the supply chain is motivated knowing that they have played a part in supplying a product that is universally respected and will most likely be a success for the customer.

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Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the July 2015 issue of The PCB Magazine.

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