Keeping Up With Supply Chain Complexity: Tools You Need Today

The manufacturing and distribution environments are becoming more complex every day. Where 20 years ago it was enough for an aerospace manufacturer to build aircraft that flew efficiently, the same factory is now being asked to accommodate different seat arrangements; a wide variety of cabin interior options; and myriad different colors, media devices, and other fine details. “The number of options has proliferated and added a lot of complexity to the supply chain,” says Richard Lebovitz, LeanDNA’s CEO, “across nearly all manufacturing verticals.”

To accommodate these trends and their customers’ changing preferences, manufacturers are working with larger supplier bases and outsourcing more of their activities to their business partners. This is creating an ever-expanding supply chain that’s not always easy to manage or orchestrate with manual or spreadsheet-based systems. “Sub-assemblies and piece parts are being outsourced to companies and factories all over the world,” says Lebovitz. “Without the tools to identify and understand where the problems are—and then synchronize with internal customers and business partners—companies are having a hard time managing that complexity.”

This supply chain complexity isn’t going to ease up anytime soon, and in fact is expected to get even more complicated in the future. “The manufacturing environment is speeding up as customers expect shorter and shorter lead times,” Daniel Taylor, a LeanDNA Director of Solutions Engineering, explains. “Compound this with the expanding product mix and supply chain complexity, companies are finding it very hard to adapt using just Excel spreadsheets and manual inventory optimization processes.”

And while those manual processes may have sufficed 20 to 30 years ago, today’s advanced technologies allow companies to leverage the cloud and data analytics in a way that helps them stand out from their competitors.

“It doesn’t make sense to keep working in the past,” says Taylor. “If you want to be at the forefront of your industry, it’s time to adopt the technology that you need to work through today’s challenges and prepare for the future.”