Now that we’re moving rapidly into the first quarter of 2019, you may well be taking stock of your business, working out where you can save yourself time and money. If you’re a retailer like many of our customers here at CoolKit, ferrying food or other consumer goods across the nation in one of our fridge or freezer vans, the matter of your supply chain may well be one of your top priorities. No matter the size of your business, optimising your supply chain can help you respond more quickly to market changes and boost your operational efficiency, so we’ve got some advice to help you get started.
Most decisions to do with your supply chain are, by definition, often important ones, and you can’t make important decisions unless you’ve got all the information to hand. That’s why it’s always wise to start with a thorough review. Are there any resources, personnel, or material that aren’t being fully utilised? Are there any departments that are over or under capacity? Working out where there are any gaps like this should give you a solid place to start.
However, be careful that you’re not setting yourself up to over optimise! Achieving efficiency is one thing, but if you set schedules that are too tight then you open yourself up to issues. Something as simple and common as having a fridge van get stuck in traffic can cause wider problems within the supply chain if you don’t allow for a certain amount of flexibility, so don’t be too liberal with your metaphorical scissors when trimming timescales.
If it’s possible to standardise any processes or tools, it’s always worth doing so. Having a universal standard of procedures or measures for your employees to refer to can work wonders in improving efficiency within the business, rather than having them dependent on an individual person’s whim.
A good example of this is data processing. By eliminating duplicate data and setting firm standards for which data takes priority (and therefore where resources and manpower should be allocated), you can save yourself a tangible amount of labour and time.
Many efficiency plans are geared towards volume – that is, moving as many units using vehicles like freezer vans in as short amount of time as possible. While that’s a perfectly goal for a business, it’s important not to neglect your processes for handling returns. If you’ve not set appropriate processes to deal with returns and/or defective goods, you may find yourself dealing with these situations on a case by case basis, which can end up taking a significant chunk of time and manpower out of your carefully optimised supply chain. And remember, not only will the efficiency of your business suffer, but also the perception of it amongst your customers.
During your audit, you might find that a fair amount of inefficiency stems from a personal or organisational tendency to stick to outdated processes or procedures, which might prove inflexible or complex. Don’t forget to do your research at the level where it matters most – at the frontlines. A plan that works well on paper might not work out so well in practice for your employees, so it’s often worth asking them where they feel processes could be improved.
And don’t forget to keep an eye on emerging technology, and think about how it could work for your business. Modern smartphones and tablets, for example, allow data entry to be done actively in the field, and there may even be certain apps geared towards accounting or communication which could be helpful for your business.
Here at CoolKit, we’re dedicated to doing our part in improving your supply chain, by providing market-leading vehicles that perfectly meet your requirements. Whether you’re a small boutique retailer with a local reach, or a major supermarket serving other businesses or customers nationally, we’ve got a fantastic range of fridge and freezer vans to suit your needs. You take a look through our stock right here on our website, or find out how we could help you with one of our fridge van conversions. Our expert advice is only a phone call away, on 0808 252 6692!
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