The fragility of supply chains has been in the spotlight recently as many have suffered, and even broken down, during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is no secret that an efficient supply chain results in money and time savings and an improved bottom line. It is vital that OEMs completely understand their supply chain and ensure it is healthy in order to maintain a competitive edge. Additionally, streamlining your supply chain is becoming even more critical as products evolve and become more technical over time. Evaluating and optimizing a supply chain is often a daunting task, leaving many OEMs wondering where to start. Below are several strategies to optimize your supply chain.

· Designate Supply Chain Personnel: this strategy is important as it establishes roles and responsibilities regarding your supply chain and helps gain cross-functional support. The personnel or team should include cross-functional representation with the goal of aligning the supply chain strategy across the company. The team can help remove organizational barriers and ensure better alignment on any improvements that are implemented. This does not have to be a large or time-consuming effort – the key here is to establish several personnel that are monitoring overall supply chain health.

 

· Assess Supply Chain Health: a key step toward a more optimized supply chain is to conduct a health assessment. In order to gauge supply chain health, companies need to evaluate each raw material and end-product – and every step in between including procurement, production, assembly, warehousing, packaging, and delivery. OEMs must consider their supply chain holistically and not just piecemeal, otherwise, what benefits one segment of the supply chain may very well have unintended consequences that are detrimental to another segment of the manufacturing line. Companies can start by mapping out each manufacturing line starting with raw materials all the way to the end-consumer. The purpose is to better understand your existing process including its strengths and pain points. It is also important to identify “value” during this step as it is nearly impossible to streamline a supply chain if the value points are not clearly understood. It is also important to take the time to talk with the various business lines to see what steps are sticking points and what improvements they would like to see.

 

· Monitor Key Performance Metrics: it is important that companies track and measure the performance of their supply chain to identify the weak links and areas for improvement. Without this data, you will be unable to determine the health of your existing supply chain. Additionally, after you have made improvements to your supply chain, it is key to continue assessing performance to quantify the time and money saved by the efficiency steps. This data will guide supply chain improvements you consider in the future.

 

· Identify Areas of Opportunity: the objective of this strategy is to use your health assessment results to identify areas of opportunity across the supply chain. The concept of lean manufacturing has been employed for many years and focuses on streamlining operations to improve value and productivity while minimizing waste. Thus, when identifying areas of opportunity within your supply chain, be on the lookout for areas of potential waste. Once your assessment is complete, make a list of opportunity areas and prioritize the issues you wish to focus on, taking into consideration their value and importance to the business, as well as how easy they will be to resolve.

 

· Consider a Contract Manufacturer: outsourcing supply chain operations to a contract manufacturer, like RIS, enables OEMs to tap into the expertise of a partner and offers many benefits including increased flexibility, improved quality, time and cost savings, and simplified purchasing and inventory management. This approach to manufacturing has been around for decades, and many industries rely heavily on outsourcing to remain competitive. Companies should take the time to research and get to know each potential contract manufacturer, evaluating their history, the breadth of solutions offered, and quality program.

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· Reduce the Number of Providers: OEMs typically have multiple vendors involved in their supply chain – but too many vendors leads to inefficiencies. Generally speaking, it is advantageous to minimize the number of providers along the supply chain. When partnering with a single-source contract manufacturer, like RIS, businesses receive a complete manufacturing solution. Reducing the number of providers adds value by improving communications and accelerating speed-to-market as well as cutting manufacturing and post-operations costs. RIS has the capabilities, capacity, quality assurance standards, and resources to provide you with support for all of your manufacturing needs – resulting in a more optimized supply chain.

 

· Welcome Technology: when it comes to optimizing your supply chain, technology is often your friend. Which of the pain points along your supply chain would benefit from new or enhanced technology? Selecting the right technology can result in a more streamlined and efficient supply chain.

 

· Incorporate Secondary Operations: many companies with efficient supply chains have combined manufacturing with secondary, post-operations steps like assembly and product testing. Outsourcing secondary operations to a contract manufacturer saves time and money as the products do not have to be transported or stored in between production and post-production steps, and companies often secure better contract rates when more services are provided by a single manufacturer. In addition to building and testing your products, the team at RIS performs fulfillment and distribution as well as warehousing services for a complete manufacturing solution.

 

· Work Collaboratively: once you select a contract manufacturer and outsource part, or all, of your supply chain, it is time to work collaboratively with your partner to achieve your desired objectives. After all, you are not simply looking for a contract manufacturer, you are looking for a trusted partner that can help your business grow. Good communication and a spirit of collaboration are necessary for any customer – supplier relationship to thrive. A true outsourcing partner asks for input and listens to customers – offering solutions that ensure both parties are aligned and satisfied.

About RIS

RIS is an advanced contract manufacturer providing robust solutions in circuit board assembly, product assembly, kitting, supply chain management, fulfillment, distribution, and reverse logistics. We employ more than 300 people and provide services to OEM’s across the world. We operate 3 state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities within the U.S, and as your one-stop-shop we have the capabilities, capacity, quality assurance standards, and resources to provide you with support for all of your manufacturing needs.

With all of the contract manufacturing partner choices out there, we know it can be difficult to find someone that not only understands your business model but also has your best intentions in mind. RIS has proven to always be a win-win focused relationship. As your one-stop-shop, we have the capabilities, capacity, quality assurance standards, and resources to provide you with support for all of your manufacturing needs. We understand that supply chain management is difficult and very time consuming, so we urge our customers to utilize us in the fullest capacity. Our total-package solutions include:

· Extensive supply-chain network

· Purchasing and inventory management

· Dedicated Program Manager

· Warehousing and drop-shipping capabilities

· Flexible order fulfillment

· Product assembly: sub-assembly and full product

· Scalability to meet your needs

Contact us today at (507) 523-3220 to see how we can help with your PCB assembly needs, or click here for a quote.