A supply chain is a complex system that cuts across multiple companies, departments, and professionals. There are many people who in one way or another are part of the logistics of companies, either as customers or as logistics operators. Given such a large number of professionals who work around the supply chain, it is worth asking ourselves: what is it to think and act logistically?
Put another way, why do people who work in the supply chain do what they do? What are the objectives and motivations behind your day-to-day tasks or major decisions? When can we be sure that what we are doing makes sense for our logistics and supply chain?
Things you will do if you think logistically
If you want to act logistically and your company is immersed in a stage of strong growth -or plans to have it-, one of the first things you should worry about is whether you are prepared for it. The saying “die of success” is not just a saying, and there are several companies that have ended up regretting suffering a growth for which they were not prepared.
Growing as a company can imply going out to new areas -regions, countries, continents…- and if we do it without being logistically prepared, our brand will surely suffer. And the same thing can happen to us if we are not able to get the number of orders we receive to the market.
Not only must our growth be sustainable, but all of our activity. It is increasingly important to find a way to combine our processes with caring for our environment. Customers, the administration, our own workers, our suppliers… all of them increasingly value our greener aspect as a priority, and even demand that we be able to demonstrate the initiatives we take in this regard in order to be able to trust us.
A process is the succession of acts or actions carried out in a certain order. That is, with a method, a plan and with consequences that we can foresee. Thinking logistically means designing reliable systems with which we can accurately replicate supply chain tasks. It is true that a good logistician must be able to improvise, but his day to day must be governed by the search for reliable and replicable processes over time.
Optimize the use of resources
Few things are less logistical than underusing the resources we have. Whether they are routes with too many empty kilometers, operators traveling more meters than necessary in the warehouse, errors that mean having to repeat jobs or trips, having a warehouse with too much empty space, etc. The real optimization of resources is what allows another of the great objectives of logistics: the optimization of costs. A true cost reduction is not achieved by paying less, but by doing things better.
Often neither customers nor suppliers can understand what kind of supply chain they want to have.
Understand the needs
If we want a logistics that responds to our needs, the first thing is to understand what these are. It may seem self-evident, but often neither customers nor suppliers fully understand what they are or what type of supply chain they want to have. Only once we know this (do we seek to have the fastest logistics, the most exclusive, the most economical, the one that reaches the most places? What are the critical points for the customer?) can we begin to build a supply chain that gives the answers we need.
measure our performance
A logistician’s head is full of numbers. If we really consider our work “logistically” we will have to measure the results of it. It is impossible to make decisions in a supply chain if we do not handle at least its most relevant indicators. It is much easier to get it right when it goes hand in hand with the data, whereas if we don’t have them we’ll be hitting blind.
Is our supply chain resilient? In this case, thinking logistically means checking the hardness of our logistics. This can be analyzed from several points: see if we are very exposed to some adversity -to a supplier, to a geographical area, to a raw material, etc.-, if we can assume large changes in volumes- not only as part of growth of the company, but by seasonal periods – and if we have determined and controlled our logistics risks.
Reduce times and distances
Logistics is, in part, the art of reducing time and space. Bring people, materials, products and places that are far from each other closer. This logistics ‘trick’ is not in vain. Achieving this approach makes new business opportunities viable that were previously impossible because they were not profitable, it opens up new markets -even international ones- for companies that without this logistical ‘miracle’ would be local.
Thinking logistically also implies achieving what until yesterday was considered impossible. Increase the range of things that we can do and, therefore, the answers that we can give to our clients. For example, before the invention of Just in Time systems, it was practically impossible to conceive the idea of working without stocks and to order, developing logistics that have to receive their materials in very tight time frames. Good logistics allow you to get to where you couldn’t do it yesterday.
Improve quality: increase value
If we had to summarize in one point what it means to think logistically, that would be the increase in quality and value offered. Ultimately, all processes have the goal of making the customer notice the improvement in their supply chain. Arrive sooner, do it in better conditions, reach places where we could not go before, be able to reduce the time from customer order to delivery, allow you to offer more personalized products as we have increased our response capacity, allow you to do so at a lower cost thanks to redesign of its processes… This greater amount of value that is being transmitted throughout the supply chain is the result of thinking things logistically.