3 Keys to Successful Supply Chain Management
Like cogs and gears working together to tell time in a clock, it takes many different parts and suppliers working together to produce a fleet vehicle. And once complex features like cranes, aerial lifts, and air compressors are added, the cohesive planning and strategy of the vehicle is crucial for success.
So how can fleet managers successfully manage this process from start to finish? Here are three points to keep in mind to make supply chain management as seamless as possible.
1. Bring everyone to the table together – EARLY. Traditional supply chain management can be illustrated as a wheel on a bicycle, with the customer in the center and each spoke as a vendor that supports the whole wheel. Managing this relationship together is a two-way street between customer and vendor, but each vendor is working independently to build the finished product. Simply put, working in this way can lead to errors.
Instead, bring everyone together at the same table before anything goes into production. Conducting quarterly specification review meetings with suppliers and the customer puts everyone on the same page. Together, meaningful next steps are created to ensure the vehicles work successfully based on the plans and needs of the customer.
2. Build small and build smart. Build a pilot vehicle that matches the specifications developed in the review process. Allow vendors, clients and employee operators to come together to inspect the prototype and make sure it is built the way it was intended. If a problem is identified, correcting it in one vehicle is much simpler – and less costly – than being forced to do it for a fleet of 100 brand new vehicles.
3. Use Big Data to ask questions and demand solutions. Big Data allows professionals to track the success of a fleet like never before. The millions of data touch points on a vehicle can not only tell a fleet manager why their maintenance costs are increasing, but identify the exact component that has repeat failures to provide forecasting in the future. This creates insights based on fact, not inferences, which projects future behavior, cost, and outcomes. Now engineering groups can come together to improve components with repeat failure and customers can take action to demand solutions.
In addition, tracking data tracks performance. Professionals can now track on-time delivery from start to finish. If a delay does occur, use the data to determine where it happened and what can be done in the future to confirm it doesn’t happen again.
Take the keys and go
It takes many pieces working in tandem to deliver a fleet vehicle that not only works correctly but is built with the customer in mind. Working with suppliers together, from the beginning, can decrease miscommunication and provide clarity to create a seamless operation. Building a single finished prototype allows customers and vendors to see their ideas go from the drawing board to execution in a way that allows changes to be made before a significant investment is made. If there is an issue, further enhancements can be done before full production of an entire fleet of vehicles begins. Finally, tying in data that quantifies the work that is being done provides insight into the pieces of the puzzle that either need improvement due to component failures, or pieces that are working well and maximizing efficiencies.
When you stop to think about it, drivers have no idea how complex the supply chain process is once they are handed the keys to their new fleet vehicle. Instead, they pick up the keys and go onto their next appointment, generating revenue for the company. When supply chain management is successful, drivers should be able to do just that – take their keys and go.
At ARI, we see a fleet vehicle as more than just something that takes a person from point A to point B. It’s why we sit down with our clients from the beginning to understand how their vehicles drive revenue, and together we work to engineer something that positions our clients for success. Companies with truck or service fleets that require a specialty vehicle or a simple pickup truck that is fitted to do a job are equally important, and together we consistently drive solutions for our clients to ensure success.