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Many businesses put more emphasis on streamlining outbound shipments than returns because they view the movement of outgoing orders as a revenue stream. The returning shipments are seen as a cost. As a result, a sluggish process for reverse logistics is a profitability drain on the company, when, in fact, it could be used as an opportunity to strengthen the bottom line. Reverse logistics account for approximately 7 to 10% of the cost of goods, so addressing inefficiencies here can deliver a strong boost to your bottom line!

How Can You De-Clutter the Process of Reverse Logistics?

Reverse Logistics - Declog the Warehouse

Are reverse logistics clogging up your supply chain? If so, it’s time to take a look at how you can de-clutter the processes. Avalon Integration works extensively with manufacturers and warehouses, and we see some common factors that need attention.

Outbound shipments have a high priority since they reflect sales and have deadlines. 

Reverse Logistics - High Priority Customers Means Good Productivity

Customers are expecting their shipments and don’t tolerate delays. Returns are handled with less priority. However, there’s still a customer on the other end of this inbound shipment—and it could be an unhappy customer—so efficient and accurate processing of the return leads to increased customer satisfaction. There should be a dedicated team of workers who work solely on reverse logistics, not delegating your shipping staff to this job when they are available. Equip them with mobile technology to expedite the job and increase accuracy. A rugged handheld computer enables a worker to scan the barcode on the shipment to record the order number and customer. Then, the returned items are scanned, instantly updating the customer’s account because the device is linked to the enterprise’s backend system. In addition, the inventory count is updated with the numbers from the returned merchandise.

Good Equipment Means Productive Workers With Reverse Logistics

Reverse Logistics - Productive Workers

An enterprise-grade mobile computer gives your warehouse workers the ability to also record the condition of the goods when they’re returned. Mark them to be restocked, refurbished, or discontinued. The device is equipped with a camera, so any damage can be recorded when the box is opened. You can focus intently on getting their orders to them quickly, but if your reverse logistics delays the processing of their returns, you compromise that positive relationship. This real-time visibility certainly increases customer satisfaction on both ends of their orders. The dedicated, advanced reverse logistics system reduces waste and delays. Your inventory counts become accurate and up-to-date, preventing mistakes in re-ordering that lead to overstocks. When you immediately record returned merchandise, you avoid unnecessary replenishment.

Avalon Integration develops technology solutions to support an efficient reverse logistics process. Our partnership with Zebra gives us the power to provide the devices that reflect the latest advances, like best-in-class scanning, enterprise-class device management and security, and rapid processing and connectivity. Talk to us to learn more about improving your reverse logistics.

 

With the rise of e-tailers like Amazon who are intent on making rapid delivery the new normal, consumers and even businesses are accustomed to receiving the goods they order fast. Next day shipping is considered a must-have, and Amazon even offers delivery in one hour in certain areas.

Because of this shift, many manufacturers are forced to turn orders around quickly to remain competitive and keep customer satisfaction high; but with lean inventories, this can be difficult to accomplish. One strategy being used is 3D printing. This gives manufacturers a way to deliver products quickly without having to keep large quantities of stock in inventory.

The Supply Chain Advantages of 3D Printing

With a minimally required infrastructure, 3D printing enables products to be created quickly and cost-effectively. Because much of the value is in the design IP, 3D printing also enables rapid customizations, which satisfies another customer demand. The process also adapts quickly to changes in demand and simplifies implementing ECNs and process changes. In addition, since it generates little waste, 3D printing also meets the demands of today’s green initiatives.

Major manufacturers such as GE are using 3D printing to manufacture many of the parts they use for production. The improved speed of 3D printers has made production volume runs feasible, and the printers now accept a wider variety of materials as feedstocks, further broadening the applicability of 3D printing.

Supply Chain Simplicity

In the past, much of the complexity of the design and supply chain management processes hinged on sourcing decisions. Although organizations often outsource production to Asian manufacturers due to the low cost of production, the high costs of travel, communication, buffer inventories, transportation and challenge of managing design changes frequently go unaccounted for. In addition, transportation costs have risen to the point where they are a significant factor in the supply chain. When an organization chooses a 3D printing strategy to keep up with demand, they are better able to reduce the number of nodes (suppliers) in their supply chains to reduce total time and cost of production. Planning and production cycles are shorter, and products can be cost-effectively manufactured close to the point of use, reducing dependence on overseas suppliers.

Production, Spares and Prototypes Can All Be 3D Printed

It’s well known that 3D printing has, to a large extent, replaced hand machining for prototypes. Using it has long been faster and less expensive than custom crafting prototypes by hand. This has become a popular avenue for multiple reasons, with cost and quick turnaround being in the top 5.

Many asset-intensive companies (such as airlines) already use 3D printing to reduce investment in MRP inventories and keep expensive assets up and running. With a 3D printer in the maintenance hangar, the airline can create any needed part quickly rather than suffer the delays of sourcing and delivering the item from a distant location. The downside of this is that many small companies that supply spares and components may find themselves in competition with a 3D printer.

Shorter planning cycles, faster lead times and environmental advantages of 3D printing are likely to quickly outweigh any remaining drawbacks. On-site production using 3D printing for production quantities, spares and prototypes is the wave of the future for supply chains.

For more information on this process, contact us

Value of Cloud Supply Chain Management

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Today’s supply chain bears little relationship to supply chains of the past. Where supply chain management once focused solely on improving an individual company’s performance within its own four walls, today’s more “outward” focused supply chains look to optimize the entire supply chain including all upstream and downstream nodes. This change in focus has ushered in a new era of software solutions that rely on the cloud to help eliminate traditional communication and visibility barriers and silos. These new cloud-based solutions streamline efforts and help bring about greater cost efficiency.

Greater visibility & efficiency with Cloud Supply Chain Management

One area contributing to overall supply chain optimization is the ability to bring additional stakeholders into the forecast process. Receiving demand input directly from customers and balancing that against supply and production capabilities helps companies remain more competitive in a world where speed is often the key differentiator in an industry or product niche.

Visibility across all nodes helps companies make fact-based decisions faster so supply interruptions or demand fluctuations have less impact on supply chain cost and on-time delivery performance. In addition, the cloud allows companies to pull together disparate data from multiple sources for rapid analysis. This widespread data availability and analysis accelerates the improvement of existing processes rather than relying on guesswork or rules of thumb that result in higher costs and overall inefficiencies.

As companies adopt management techniques such as lean manufacturing, increased visibility and data analysis enables them to eliminate waste across the supply chain and create new, more efficient business processes and workflows.

Integrated solutions, improved communications with Cloud Supply Chain Management

One reason for the lack of coordination across business entities in the past was the proliferation of enterprise business systems. Each company in the supply chain had its own systems and its own data, and companies rarely shared their data across company boundaries because of the difficulty in integrating so many disparate systems and singular focus of the supply chain.

The cloud makes it easy to integrate multiple platforms, business systems and to share data or even provide direct access to applications. In fact, many cloud supply chain software applications now have a new and inexpensive user type designed expressly for suppliers and partners to share information.

The cloud also reduces the impact of system changes and integrations on your IT department. Cloud solutions are simpler and faster to implement and cloud providers manage most of the mundane day-to-day operational tasks such as upgrades, backups, maintenance, and security. This offloading of routine tasks enables your in-house IT team to focus on more strategic initiatives that have a greater impact on the business.

Simplify operations…one cloud at a time.

The cloud makes it easier to optimize production, order flow and deliveries to customers, resulting in lower operational costs and happier customers across the entire supply chain. If you’ve been thinking about making a move to the cloud, but aren’t sure how to begin, contact us today for information and ideas to get you started.