DETROIT – The transition from one year to the next represents an important symbolic milestone. For you as an electronic components distributor, this pivotal time offers you the opportunity to examine your supply chain methods and improve the ways by which materials travel through the manufacturing process. Identify these benchmarks today to set the tone for the next 12 months.

Evaluate your current suppliers

If your company is like many electronics manufacturers, you have long-standing relationships with vendors and other materials providers. Just as it is beneficial to take stock of your interpersonal contacts on a regular basis, you should do the same with professional ones. Ask these questions:

  • Is communication between you clear?
  • Do they respond quickly to your requests?
  • Are they reliable? Do they keep their promises?
  • Do they provide materials quickly and on time?

If the answer is “no”, you might want to shop around for a new supplier.

Take a close look at your supply chain strategy

If your supply chain model is not nimble, lean, fast and dependable, there may be room for improvement. Focus your examination on your chain’s current resilience, the effectiveness of your third-party logistics and its appropriateness for your specific industry. You might not like the answers, but it’s better to move forward with accurate information instead of continuing to operate inefficiently using strategies that may have worked once but no longer are optimal.

Implement demand planning

Efficiently producing and distributing products is a lot easier when you know what items customers want as well as when peak and low times fall during the year. Demand planning can be an invaluable tool in bringing this knowledge to your procurement team. In addition, make a concerted effort to understand your suppliers and the constraints under which they operate. As an electronics manufacturer who most likely gets parts from China, you should know when holidays such as the Chinese New Year fall so that you can plan around expected delays.

Minimize silos

When information is separated from the people who need it the most, this is known as a data silo. In the manufacturing sector, data silos can lead to inventory ordering and production mistakes that can cost companies millions of dollars. To combat this phenomenon, start using an automated supply management platform that encourages collaboration and visibility across all affected stakeholders and vendors.

Constantly monitor your systems

Software makes it much easier to keep a sharp eye on your supply network to spot weaknesses before they become all-out breaches or bottlenecks. Supplier and logistics management platforms can automate much of this task, but it is also advisable to regularly put your human brain to work by searching for any red flags or patterns that could be harbingers of future problems. Once you have identified these warning signs, you can investigate further and take corrective action if necessary.

The need for resilient, sustainable supply chains and viable supplier relationships is constant. As the new year approaches, set goals to continuously enhance the transparency, speed and quality of the critical network that brings components and raw materials to your factory for manufacturing. Without a doubt, this investment of attention will pay for itself many times over.