From Demand Forecasting to Distribution Optimization: A Deep Dive into Supply Chain Excellence

Supply chain management is a critical and intricate process that involves the seamless coordination and integration of various activities to ensure the efficient flow of goods and services from the point of origin to the end consumer. In today’s globalized and interconnected business environment, effective supply chain management has become a strategic imperative for organizations to stay competitive. In this exclusive interview with Prem Sharma, Supply Chain Expert and Former Head of Logistics & SCM at HIL CK Birla, we delve into the intricate world of supply chain dynamics. With a wealth of experience in steering logistics strategies for a prominent conglomerate, Mr Sharma shares insights on demand forecasting accuracy, order processing in high-volume environments, warehouse optimization, and end-toend supply chain visibility and more.

We need to understand that demand, forecast and production planning are all correlated. So we have to ensure that we make full use of available data sources. Thus, all the available data should be leveraged in supply chain demand forecasting, including historical sales data, demand trends, market competition figures, and digital analytics. The more data plugged into the forecast, the more accuracy there will be.

On the other hand, if we talk about unexpected demand, one needs to revise the production planning and find other sources of material. For instance, fetching from the available unsold material and other warehouses can help us meet an unexpected demand.

To achieve accurate and timely order processing, it is crucial to adhere to the following guidelines: • Implement an automated Order Management System

• Establish a centralized team for order management
• Collaborate with reliable logistic vendors
• Ensure comprehensive tracking of shipments
• Inventory control and accuracy
• Customer communication
• Proper coordination with sales team

Adhering to these practices constitutes the proper approach to order management.

Companies that neglect to integrate automated order management systems, relying instead on traditional methods of order placement through calls and written requests, expose themselves to risks of inventory discrepancies and dispatch errors. To mitigate such risks, all involved parties should transition to an automated order management platform, analogous to having a cohesive team working efficiently under one roof.

In the present industry landscape, over 80 percent of companies continue to oversee their warehouses manually. However, whether you’re a business owner, a supply chain manager, or involved in supply chain management, integrating WMS (Warehouse Management System) software is imperative.

 WMS software plays a pivotal role in optimizing various aspects of warehouse operations, including receiving, storage, picking, packing, shipping, and inventory tracking. By doing so, it ensures 100 percent accuracy, eliminating human errors and enhancing the overall efficiency of stock location and handling processes. This will also have accurate and timely dispatches.

Having personally utilized WMS for the past decade, I can attest to its benefits, such as maximizing warehouse space utilization and efficient inventory management. The system also aids in personnel management. Therefore, for effective warehouse management, WMS not only ensures control over inventories, swift deliveries, and dispatches but also minimizes discrepancies to zero percent.

To attain comprehensive visibility in the end-to-end supply chain, it is imperative to employ a streamlined inventory management strategy, actively engage in demand planning, strategically organize the team, and leverage root cause analysis. Regular discussion about root cause analysis (RCA), implementing benchmarking practices, embracing production strategies, and incorporating automation tools like Transportation Management Systems (TMS), Production Management Systems (PMS), and Order Generation Tools (OGT) for stock transfers are essential elements of this approach.

When we talk about vendor supplies, everybody faces the challenge of managing the raw material, producing the inventory, and managing this inventory. We are making the stock transfer and X is the best cost of logistics because we are sending a material to another warehouse.

There is also the question of whether the material will be sold out because if not, we will be in loss. In contrast, the OGTs always suggest the right inventory. Based on your historical data and demand analysis, it suggests the right portion of materials to be dispatched. Additionally, in the supply chain definitely we have to look at RCA, where we are failing.

This is an abridged version of the interview published in the December edition of the Logistics Insider Magazine-India. To read the complete interaction, click here.

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