Focus on Your Supply Chain

If the past few tumultuous years have taught us anything, it’s that issues around supply chain management can wreak havoc with hardwood lumber supply. Like in most industries, disruptions in one’s supply chain often end up costing money, frustrating customers, and risking damage to a company’s reputation.  That’s why effective supply chain management is so critical.

When we think about our supply chain practices, we find focusing on a few key elements help us with our continuous improvement efforts.

Automate. Numerous processes associated with the supply chain process are repetitive and time-consuming. Fortunately, technology exists and continues to advance that allows us to automate and streamline many functions such as order processing, shipping and inventory look-ups. Regularly review your current application, processes and tools to see if there are new areas to leverage a new technology to improve.

Refine your vendor relationships. Obviously, your vendors play a critical role in your effective supply chain management efforts. A wise move is to maintain a diverse range of suppliers, focusing on those with cost-efficient locations, reliable shipping routes, and the capacity to work through any negative effects on business. It’s also a good idea to keep a list of specific “back-up” suppliers on hand, so resources may be available during an emergency.

TVS Supply Chain Solutions suggests creating a “vendor compliance program” that enables businesses to make sure “their suppliers are meeting their standards for quality, delivery times, and pricing.” Such a program can “include regular audits and assessments of suppliers to ensure that they are meeting the necessary requirements.”

Evaluate and assess performance. How well do your suppliers perform on an ongoing basis? Businesses are well-served when they maintain awareness of vendor activity and measure their success (or lack thereof) with respect to on-time delivery rates, accuracy of order rates, and changes in shipping and handling costs.

Conduct a supply chain stress test. Think about conducting a stress test to identify potential gaps in your supply chain logistics. Assign your most responsible workers to imagine a series of industry-related scenarios and see what solutions might be available to offset serious damage or disruption. For us, the scenarios are key. We try to test this from both an inbound and outbound perspective. Such things as inbound green lumber or hardwood logs to our sawmills and our outbound hardwood lumber logistics destined to our customer locations.

Review your employee training process. One possible cause of supply chain inefficiency might just be that the people involved aren’t getting all the information or tools they need to succeed. This could cause miscommunication amongst employees or a lack of knowledge of all the moving parts. In the past, we have found it helpful to take the time to review and assess our training methods and materials. Sometimes we found a policy or procedure changed and not everyone was aware. By improving this we were able to improve the effectiveness of our supply chain efforts!

Whether it is shipping a container of hardwood lumber across the ocean or trucking a load of ripped-to-width S4S moulder blanks to a distributor, doing it efficiently, effectively and on-time is important to us. That’s what allows us to let our customer leave their frustration and anxiety behinds when it comes to receiving their hardwood lumber. Perhaps we can do the same for you. 

Contact us and start a conversation!

Tony C.
The Baillie Group
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