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Looking Across Your Manufacturing Supply Chain & Implementing a Lean Program

How to Evaluate Your Manufacturing Supply Chain

Knowing your supply chain is key to making sure it runs efficiently.

When you are looking to implement a Lean Management System across your company, it doesn’t take long with the planning and data collection phase to realise that your everyday success depends on how you interact with your supply chain. On the down-stream side of your supply chain, your suppliers will influence how you go about planning and manufacturing your products.

On the up-stream side, your customer orders and variations will influence how successful your production planning is.

Here we will look at a few tips to help get your supply chain aligned and ready for your lean transformation.

Customers

payments being made
Knowing your customers is key to providing the best value to them.

Understanding your customers’ needs is an essential part of developing your value stream map. This needs to be done internally, with those that deal with customer information, and going to the actual customers and asking questions.

Questions you should be asking of your customers:

  • What is your forecasting range?
  • How accurate is your forecast?
  • What is your order lead-time?
  • How much will these orders vary each month?
  • What is your expected delivery lead time?
  • How well do you meet this lead time?
  • When you receive your order, is the packaging lots / orientation suit your process?

Discussing these points with your customer will determine their expectations regarding placing orders and receive.

Reliable orders will help you in your planning, which will improve your efficiencies. By understanding your customers needs, you may also be able to negate a saving with both parties winning.

Suppliers

Warehouse doors

By examining your relationship with your customer, you are in a position to reflect on how you are behaving as a customer towards your suppliers.

The below points can be used again from your suppliers point of view.

Questions you should be asking of your suppliers:

  • What is their forecasting range?
  • How accurate is your supply chain forecast?
  • What is the order lead-time?
  • How much will these orders vary each month?
  • What is their expected delivery lead-time?
  • How well do they meet this lead-time?
  • When you receive your order, is the packaging lots / orientation suit your process?

Moving towards implementing a Lean enterprise/program, you need to balance having material on hand when you need it, compared with minimising the amount of inventory you hold, which ties up money from your cash-flow. Working with your suppliers will help you make sound decisions to balance these two aspects.

Implementing a Lean enterprise philosophy to your supply chain also requires a Continuous Improvement Relationship with both your suppliers and customers so that the robustness of your production system is maintained as customer orders change.