How to Ensure Supply Chain Resilience Post Pandemic

Supply Chain Resilience is the ability to respond and recover quickly to unexpected events, like a global pandemic. To achieve this, operations leaders are looking to future-proof their warehouses by putting proactive strategies in place. But where do you begin? You can start with a supply chain risk assessment of your current inventory procedures to identify areas to strengthen your operational foundation.

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This internal-driven assessment of your business should include a detailed look into your suppliers, inventory management and overall operations. By identifying threats to your supply chain, your organization can adjust to changing conditions quickly to meet order fulfillment deadlines - efficiently sidestepping recognized risks and avoiding additional expenses. 

Get Your Suppliers on Board

Having a strong, dependable and trusting relationship with suppliers is more important now than ever before. Cultivating this relationship takes time and your suppliers’ satisfaction could affect your bottom line. Include your vendors in success sharing – and if you come across an issue, bring it to their attention as soon as possible and work together to resolve it.

One idea is to share your monthly reporting on key metrics from NetSuite (or your ERP solution):

  • On Time Delivery Performance – the ratio of on-time deliveries to total deliveries scheduled in a month
  • Inventory Under Min Performance – the percentage of the supplier’s items that are under the Min level, calculated with respect to the total number of items on Min/Max (not the total number of items in general)
  • Inventory Over Max Performance – the percentage of the supplier’s items that are over the Max level, calculated with respect to the total number of items on Min/Max (not the total number of items in general)
  • Cost Performance – the percentage deviation from the standard costs for all items supplied by the given supplier. The calculation is: (Units Received *Receipt Price) / (Units Received *Baseline Standard Price) = Cost Performance %
  • Quality Performance – the Defective Parts Per Million (DPPM) based on the defect percentage (number of defects / total number of individual item receipts)

Vendors can help with your internal inventory stock procedures by having barcodes already printed onto their boxes and packages before they reach your door. This will reduce the time it takes to correctly and accurately accept incoming deliveries. A warehouse worker only needs to scan and confirm the quantity without having to re-label and confirm the item SKU. Receiving is the best time to identify and correct variances in data. By making small adaptions the supplier can ensure that the barcode is GS1 compliant and readable by any scanner. 

Re-evaluate your Current Inventory Procedures 

During the optimization process, the internal processes of your warehouse will need to be reviewed and evaluated. Consult with all stakeholders, regardless of their role. This includes contractors within your warehouse. Consider involving a Supply Chain Specialist to do an audit on your business and spot gaps where improvements and suggestions can be made. 

Identify Your Opportunities for Improvement:

  • First, you need to have a good understanding of the processes that are working in your operations and also identify those which are cumbersome and can be reworked. Common areas of improvement include reducing touch points, locations of fast and slow moving inventory, and implementing inventory management strategies
  • Second, do you know what your competitors are doing? Take time to talk to other business leaders and see what steps they are taking in their businesses. You may have performance gaps in common and be able to quickly identify solutions.
  • Third, identify by priority your opportunities for improvement – and then implement a supply chain resilience strategy to address these areas.

With over 10,000 products,, wanted to improve their warehouse performance and tackle the inefficiencies that come with manual processes in their operations. “RF-SMART being within NetSuite enables us to customize and create some really cool functionality, which drives profitability and optimizes our performance." This allows to collate much richer data to drive their decision making. With an increase in e-commerce orders during the pandemic, leaned on its new NetSuite Inventory Management procedures to scale with the increase in sales.

Fulfilling Orders Out-the-Door Quickly and Accurately 

By adding a mobile inventory solution to your strategy, you can optimize your stock accuracy by eliminating human error when capturing stock items. In addition, your receiving is enhanced with quicker putaways and fulfillment of waiting backorders.

RF-SMART customer Rhino-Rack discovered this for themselves after mobilizing their workforce and reviewing their own warehouse stock procedures. Adopting standard RF-SMART mobile functionality such as receiving, order picking, enhanced item inquiry and bin transfers led Rhino-Rack to quickly increase their inventory control. "To be able to scan and select the PO that we need, put that straight in with the goods and then straight into stock has cut down our time to receive from a day to minutes.” This led to greater efficiencies with more orders picked, fewer mistakes and an easier path to dispatch.

Regardless if you're using bins or not in your warehouse, your inventory procedures can be enhanced with improved pick routes and precision at the packing and assembly stations. Fewer mispicks lead to fewer returned orders, and you can improve customer loyalty while sending more orders out the door.

Read our whitepaper on the ROI of a mobile inventory solution

One Last Thought: Is "Just In Time" Inventory a Thing of the Past?

How you choose to move forward with your inventory may mean Just in Time (JIT) inventory will no longer work. If you experienced inventory or raw material shortages in the warehouse that had a negative impact on your manufacturing or fulfillment strategies, you might need to review the current minimum and maximum stock levels settings. You also need an in-depth understanding of lead-times from your suppliers in order to facilitate replenishment in the future. 

Keep in mind, the COVID pandemic isn't the first incident to impact JIT - Hurricanes, September 11th, and other global events have all disrupted supply chains before. Whether or not you continue with a lean supply chain will depend on many factors. Balancing the cost of inventory storage and the need to protect the integrity of your order book will require special consideration moving forward.

Read more tips for ensuring long-term efficiency in your supply chain:

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