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?Using supply chain consultants as advisors on strategic cost reduction and how to create competitive advantage is becoming a requirement rather than a nice-to-have intervention. Most successful companies have tackled making savings in conventional ways such as achieving economies of scale, leveraging their purchasing and making obvious process improvements but they are finding that this is not enough. Supply chains are becoming more complex all the time as the global business environment is constantly changing. To stay competitive firms need to move fast to keep ahead and innovative companies are looking deep into their supply chain structures, relationships and workflows to find long-term cost reduction solutions. For this they need help. So here are some of the potential areas supply chain consultants can demonstrate added value: Technology Enablement People alignment Minimising risk Sustainability and green issues Supply Chain Integration Using the right technologies Technology is an enabler, not an end in itself. Advances in I.T software can provide solutions to problems that were previously too challenging for non-experts to tackle such as planning and demand management through to execution and asset management. Supply chain experts and consultants use statistical and analytical tools applying the relevant technology to develop workable solutions. One aim is to integrate various disparate supply chain functions by streamlining the processes. An example of the successful application of technology to warehousing, inventory and logistics is the use of Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), a data collection technology that uses electronic tags for storing data. It can also be used to track humans! Many supply chain consultants have alliance partnerships with leading vendors of I.T solutions and ERP systems and some specialize by industry sector. Clients rely on their ERP partners for supply chain advice and require them to develop customized solutions. Using the right tools However, sometimes clients need their supply chain consultants to provide informed and impartial advice. Consultants need to devise supply chain strategies based on an organizations operations, resources, and other capabilities and not design solutions around the available technologies. Analytical tools such as Six Sigma can detect defective processes and implement remedies that can reduce costs and provide efficiencies. Lean manufacturing techniques aim to eliminate waste and deliver better value for customers. The best consultants have qualifications and experience in using these tools and can provide quick results without major upheavals to the business. Choosing the right supply chain consultants depends on the industry you are in, the technology you use and your appetite for continuous improvement in the supply chain.
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