No Rest for the Wicked—and None for Supply Chain Managers Either

up at nightIf the supply chain managers in your life appear to be exhausted—you know, sporting dark circles under their eyes or bypassing the K-cups to snort coffee grounds directly—a new report from APICS and Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business details the reasons why. Released last month, the aptly-titled “Supply Chain Issues: What’s Keeping Supply Chain Managers Awake at Night?” investigates the current business practices of more than 50 supply chain organizations and identifies critical issues.

Indeed, the focus group surveyed was specifically asked, “what keeps you awake at night?” Respondents were asked to emphasize both the new opportunities they were evaluating, and the day-to-day challenges they face. The findings were six-fold, including:

  1. Capacity and resource availability: Especially applicable to firms anticipating an uptick in market share, supply chain managers are looking to expand internal capacity by investing in new technologies to help alleviate strain on their channels and operations without resorting to outsourcing.
  2. Talent: A universal stressor, supply chain managers are worried about attracting, hiring and retaining skilled personnel at every level of their operations in an era of intense competition for a low supply of qualified workers.
  3. Complexity: With the ongoing proliferation of stock keeping units (SKUs)—particularly with the trend toward customization and personalization of standard, base products—keeping up with all of those items and their correspondingly increasing volumes is forcing supply chain managers to figure out how their operations can become quicker and more nimble.
  4. Threats and challenges: Otherwise known as “the circumstances beyond a supply chain manager’s control”, developing plans to mitigate the potential effect of natural disasters, supplier disruptions, civil unrest, negative social media-driven chatter, and a lack of personnel continuity, is a huge stressor.
  5. Compliance: Complex and continually changing, supply chain managers struggle to keep up with the local, regional, national and global regulatory mandates from governments regarding trade, environment, customs, product regulations and more.
  6. Cost and pricing issues: Although these issues affect all companies, healthcare and pharmaceutical firms in particular are feeling the impact of the Affordable Care Act, as well as Medicare/Medicaid restrictions. To combat these challenges, supply chain managers are looking to increase efficiency in order to improve their cost structures.

If you’re one of those sleepless supply chain managers, we can help. Let viastore work with you to develop a tailor-made solution for optimized material flow, both within your facilities and through to the suppliers in your supply chain. Call us at 616.977.3950 to discuss your intralogistics (and sleep) needs with one of our technology-neutral consultants.

About John Clark

John is responsible for Marketing and Business Development at the North American headquarters of viastore systems in Grand Rapids, MI.

He has over 20 years of broad hands-on experience in all aspects of marketing and communication, including writing, content marketing, advertising, design, trade show and event planning, public/media relations, website, lead generation and management.

Prior to viastore, he has held marketing management positions at TGW Systems and Dematic, both global material handling automation companies.

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