Best Practices in Supply Chain Management: The “It Will Never Happen to Me” Report

            Tom Lehmkuhl

The biggest problems are generally found to be caused by the smallest of errors. While it’s certainly unreasonable to believe that a few simple steps can remove all possible errors or missteps from a supply chain, it’s not unreasonable at all to remove a fair amount of possible issues through the use of best practices. Tom Lehmkuhl looks to distribution centers in this post, listing three major areas that can be strengthened in order to avoid the little mistakes which lead to big problems. The three are:

  • Prevention
  • Diagnostics
  • Rapid resolution

All three represent different elements of a very important cycle – a cycle that cannot be halted due to a faulty piece of equipment, a missing communication, or a data error. Lehmkuhl uses a sample problem to help illustrate exactly how these areas are used. For instance, after a major failure, it’s important to run all the diagnostics possible (and to have them run by someone removed from the actual process after the initial diagnostics check by the team working on the system). Having a multi-level and multi-perspective diagnostics check is invaluable in determining what went wrong: The reason this is so important is that the supply chain software has become the objective eyes and ears that aid in remote diagnostics by your equipment and warehouse control system implementation partner. When we receive calls for a system being down and the customer's maintenance staff has ruled out what they can see, the first thing we do is try to capture what the on-site eyes and ears have to say. This is immediately followed up by connecting to the system. That provides us with remote eyes and ears and the ability to observe the problem and begin running through a set of diagnostics. More often than not, we can quickly pinpoint the problem. In the rapid resolution </em>phase, the problem is resolved, a maintenance plan is determined if applicable, and techniques for mitigating the same issue in the future are investigated. After all, having the entire supply chain fail due to one faulty cog or one incorrect line of code is worth the time and energy to avoid.

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