Supply chain visibility must be a priority for leaders today. Our complex electronics supply chains come up against constant disruption. They’re also more fragile than we realized – perhaps too fragile for today’s modern global marketplace and its troubles. Bad weather, geopolitical turmoil, blocked canals, and other issues can all disrupt supply chain activity and create challenges for any industry at any time.
When you know what’s happening out in the world across your supply chain, you can act faster and smarter
Decision-makers need better information streams to remain informed on what’s happening up and down the supply chain. Executives need to cure their own risk blindness to be more aware of everything possibly impacting performance. This includes having more real-time access to information, as well as deep insight into every supply chain stage, from raw material extraction to final delivery.
Before discussing specific strategies to improve visibility, we need to understand what causes risk blindness in the first place. Then, we can build solutions with long-term benefits.
Causes of Supply Chain Blindness
Many factors can lead to supply chain blindness. For example, overdependence on manual processes and workflows can contribute to limited supply chain visibility. Teams still using email, spreadsheets, and phone calls to share information move too slowly for today’s fast-moving world. Information becomes outdated and worthless by the time it arrives.
Supply chain blindness also stems from general marketplace uncertainty. We can’t anticipate geopolitical strife or adverse weather events or how they might disrupt our supply chains. We can’t predict how competitors will act or respond. Issues remaining out of our control make it harder to discern the right path forward.
Risk blindness also exists as a result of supply chain complexity. We now depend on deep relationship webs and convoluted sourcing channels. Very few organizations have total control over every supply chain process; Amazon may be the only company that comes close.
Instead, outsourcing responsibilities to external partners creates dependencies requiring management and collaboration. While this can be beneficial if not downright necessary, working with the wrong partner can create blind spots that hinder outcomes.
Moreover, counterfeiting and wire fraud prevalent in today’s supply chains bring confusion to the global landscape. It can be hard to spot malicious intent or behavior in tumultuous times. But increased visibility limits risk across all dimensions. As the saying goes, “knowledge is power”, and this remains true within the world of supply chain management.
Increased Visibility Lowers Risk
Increased visibility lets you know what’s happening across the entire supply chain and why. Below are quick examples of how this idea maps to different stages:
- Raw material stage: Know what’s available and where to find it
- Supplier stage: Know when suppliers populate your BOM, or if they can’t
- Manufacturing stage: Remain informed on available capacity and capabilities
- Distribution stage: Get updated information on shipping times, inventory levels, and reorder needs
- Customer stage: Understand customer product trends and how to leverage use and demand changes
Any lack of visibility means more risk. When leaders don’t have insight into a certain part of the supply chain, they can’t take proactive steps to reinforce production and mitigate downtime. Instead, they’re more likely to act reactively, an inefficient, error-prone, and costly game plan.
For these reasons, it’s crucial to use newer tools to maximize visibility and boost decision-making confidence. The right platforms equip leaders with the data they need to elevate supply chain performance.
How to Leverage Data for Better Outcomes
Database tools like Findchips, Octopart, and IHS Markit provide lots of data about specific parts, including availability, lifecycle stage, and specifications. Organizations use these sites to conduct research and learn all they can about critical components. Tools like this can spark ideas about where to look for short-supply parts or what alternatives may work.
The organization ERAI gathers information, good and bad, about vendors, helping organizations make educated sourcing partnership decisions. ERAI members have access to a vast information database covering counterfeit components and high-risk groups. An ERAI certification and memberships within other similar groups quickly separate reputable suppliers from those with questionable practices.
The data available through these tools empower supply chain leaders to upgrade performance and outcomes. Teams can also work more effectively with suppliers, pivot when disruption occurs, and choose high-quality vendors.
How Partnering with MacroFab Streamlines Visibility
Better supply chain visibility needs to be on your priority list. When you know what’s happening out in the world across your supply chain, you can act faster and smarter. You can forecast accurately, avoid bad actors, increase enterprise agility, and navigate around common types of risk. Visibility builds more robust and resilient supply chains.
However, doing this on your own can be overwhelming, even with comprehensive databases like the ones mentioned above. If your company is still using 20th-century processes or technology, simple tools and knowing the biggest supply chain pitfalls won’t give you enough leverage to cultivate internal visibility and organizational transformation.
Instead, work with a strategic sourcing partner like MacroFab. We do the hard work on your behalf. In addition to serving as an easy-to-use access point to vetted electronics manufacturers, we provide strategic sourcing services that deliver the visibility described here. Our platform pulls the latest market intelligence available and gives users a simple way to access that vital information.
We also have well-established processes for keeping counterfeit parts out of our facilities and accelerating the electronics design process. From the moment your team starts iterating on a new product, you have all the intel you need to work with reliable manufacturers, prevent downtime, and source components quicker than your competitors.
Learn how MacroFab can help you build a responsive, flexible, and resilient supply chain that actually works.