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Your supply chain can’t talk, but if it could, there are a lot of questions you’d want to ask it.

And even though it can’t actually reply to you, there’s a lot of valuable information you can get about your supply chain by doing the right research and asking the right questions. Supply chains are ever-evolving creatures that need a lot of maintenance and oversight to make sure it’s functioning properly at all points in the chain. If you want to guarantee your supply chain is working to the best of its ability, here are a few questions to ask and look into:

Are your delivery times predictable?

When you boil it down, the most important thing about supply chains is the prompt and timely arrival of products. On a regular schedule (quarterly, bi-monthly, whatever works best for your company and needs), take a look at your recent delivery times and see what needs to be done to ensure it meets customer expectations and the supply demands of your business.

Are you using specific calculations to determine inventory or are you using a more generic method?

A lot of warehouses tend to fall into a trap of using too generic, ‘one size fits all’ inventory metric measurements that don’t produce the sort of results they need. Take a look at the metrics and statistics you need most – inventory levels, delivery times, time-to-customer – and find new methods to track these KPIs and make sure everything is getting done the way your warehouse needs it to be – which might not be the method you’re using now.

Are your products getting handled correctly when they arrive?

All the inventory tracking and delivery specialization in the world isn’t going to do much good if the products are being inventoried and stored incorrectly, or in a way that prevents them from getting to the shipping department promptly. Review the sort of warehouse storage you use in both your shipping & receiving departments and your standard storage areas to make sure your space is being used effectively and to see if any other installations may be needed.

Is inventory accuracy being maintained?

In busier seasons, or when your attention has to be focused elsewhere, a lot of warehouses tend to let inventory counting accuracy fall by the wayside. Review your past few inventory checks to see if anything is being frequently measured wrong or is always coming up short and make sure work is being done to keep everything lined up and accurate.

How is excess/obsolete inventory being handled?

Are your inventories being measured correctly for overage, obsolete products, and anything that needs to be marked outside of standard inventory? Where does this inventory go, and who is keeping track of it while it departs? Does this count for less than 1% of your overall inventory – and if not, how can you reduce levels to that point?

By asking these questions, and asking them frequently, you can keep on top of a lot of potential inventory issues before they crop up and make sure your supply chain flows smoothly.

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