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Do you have any employees in your manufacturing operation that have been in the military?

If it has proven to be a wise hiring decision, it’s probably no accident. That’s because the discipline of logistics – a highly advantageous system for manufacturers in particular – has its roots in the military.

Commonalities (with an important difference)

How to safely and efficiently get necessary supplies and resources to where they need to go in a cost-efficient manner – that’s the name of the game, both for manufacturers and the military.

When the military has a breakdown of logistics, it can be a matter of life and death. For manufacturers, the results may not be as stark, yet the consequences are likely to be felt down the road.

Is it time for an assessment?

Whether or not it is planned out particularly well or executed on a high level, a manufacturing enterprise necessarily works within a logistics framework. For small and medium-sized businesses that rely more on the initiative of their people, logistics systems may be liable to take a backseat.

For these types of firms, multiple responsibilities will frequently be placed on key players, who simply may not have the time or bandwidth to meet agreed-upon mile markers based in a logistical plan.

While it may be understandable that some of your team use shortcuts while juggling tasks, it’s worth getting back on the logistics track and sticking to a plan.

The overall concept of logistics

When you consider all of the factors and contingencies going into manufacturing logistics, the picture can get complicated. In a nutshell, manufacturers can think about working backwards from the point of adding value to customer demands.

As a manufacturing leader, what do I have to do to add the most value for my customer?

From the moment the customer has their hands on the product, work backwards: transportation, warehousing, processing – then, get into production, etc. This is a sensible way of reverse engineering your major goals.

When we start to unpack what adding value to customer demands entails, that will include all the service, coordination and planning functions necessary to meet those goals.

The nuts and bolts

You have to be willing to consider the many specifics if you want to fully benefit from logistics. These specifics will likely include some or all of the following:

Information flow in manufacturing involves the necessary path of information. For example, what information does an employee need, and how do they flow it to the necessary tasks. How does it relate to overall production? Getting the flow maximized can do wonders.

Material handling deals with the movement of materials. You may not realize, without a logistical analysis, that there are unnecessary steps in this phase.

Production is an all-encompassing term for inputs from workers resulting in the output of a product. Clearly, there’s a lot here to analyze.

Packaging, inventory, transportation, warehousing and even security are the remaining steps filling out logistics.

For smaller manufacturers who may be experiencing some hiccups along the way to delivering customer satisfaction, a sound logistics analysis and plan can fix those upstream causes for improved downstream value.

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