Ideally, every supply chain strives to avoid long lead times in order to achieve a short lead time because it leads to increased customer satisfaction, favorable reviews, increased sales, decreased production, distribution costs, and higher profits. There are many ways to shorten lead times. But the ones that suit you best depend on the nature of your business. Some of the emerging methods involve the use of supply chain technologies, such as bar code label printers, mobile material handling robots, and FlashTrac, our own proprietary system of record built specifically for the service supply chain.
Here are 6 supply chain technologies that can help you reduce long lead times:
Bar Code Label Printers
Labeling products takes up considerable time and resources. The application of the latest bar code label printers, which combine the reliability of an industrial class production with the simplicity of a desktop printer, can significantly decrease long lead times. Industrial bar code label printers, designed for use in large warehouses and manufacturing facilities, have large paper capacities, operate at a high speed and have a longer service life. Those designed for retail and office environments are similar to desktop printers. The latest bar code label printers are capable of printing thousands of labels in an hour.
Warehouse Management System (WMS)
Warehouse Management System (WMS) is an application designed to support the day-to-day operations of a warehouse. It facilitates centralized management of all the tasks done in a warehouse, including inventory control, tracking, and location of stock items. It allows you to control the storage and movement of materials in a warehouse and process the required transactions, including shipping, receiving, and picking. A WMS may be a standalone system or a part of a larger system. The latest versions of WMS are capable of handling very high volumes of data at a very high speed. The use of WMS significantly decreases long lead times. At Flash Global, our WMS is TracStar.
Mobile Material Handling Robots
Mobile material handling robots are designed to navigate through a distribution center autonomously, moving raw materials and finished products from point to point. They are equipped with an advanced sensor suite that allows them to avoid collision and navigate effortlessly. They are fast, precise, and tireless. They can keep working 24 hours a day. The latest models have the capability to communicate wirelessly with the warehouse management system (WMS), feeling real-time data into the system. The use of such robots in warehouses and factories can significantly reduce long lead times.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Chips
Products and devices fitted with radio frequency identification (RFID) chips are capable of talking to each other within an internet infrastructure without human intervention. At the basic level, these devices are capable of generating and receiving signals, which allows them to be located and sorted quickly and effortlessly. Such a device never gets lost or misplaced because they continuously transmit their location. This emerging technology is known as the Internet of Things (IoT) and it is expected to revolutionize supply chain management.
Drones for Product Delivery
Drones are remotely piloted unmanned aerial vehicles that can be used to deliver merchandise right at the customers’ doorsteps. While largely still in the testing phase, these flying machines are slated to play a significant role in supply chain management in the near future. Drones are especially useful for online and other stores that offer home delivery services, but they can also be used to transport raw materials and parts. The use of drones to deliver products to customers living in remote locations can significantly reduce lead time.
FlashTrac is our proprietary software purpose-built for the service supply chain. This platform increases productivity, global visibility, and responsiveness to customers with an instantaneously synchronized global system. It integrates seamlessly with an existing ERP or CRM system as well as other external systems, including Oracle, SAP, and Salesforce. It significantly reduces lead time by automatically consolidating data from all systems and partners to create one central repository, which enables you to produce the exact reports that you need to make quick and correct decisions.