Posted by: Matthew Molinari | April 15, 2012

Getting Personal with Supply Chain Management

I think a lot of people look at the term supply chain management and their eyes glaze over. It seems as though it is such a complex and broad topic that usually touches on issues well beyond the scope of the average person. In many cases, they have good reason to feel this way; it is difficult to try to explain why shipping routes in Asia are important to someone living in the Midwest.

However, that does not mean that people can’t use the complex theories beyond supply chains, procurement and inventory management on a day-to-day basis to help save money and make life easier. If you cut through all the extracurriculars supply chain management is really about managing uncertainty and variability across all lines of business.

How many people do that exact same thing on a daily basis without ever realizing they are actually participating in some form of supply chain management? Think about your community and how you navigate it. Maybe weeksday you’ll take one route but on the weekends, to get to the exact same location, you’ll take another because you know it will be quicker due to increased traffice. That is what transportation companies do everyday when talking about logistics. So with that in mind, I’ve got 2 perfect examples of how you can incorporate supply chain ideas to help you in your everyday life:

Measure Waste

More often than not, we don’t realize what we are throwing away because there are large gaps between major tosses. Whether you are cooking in unnecessary volume or throwing out uncooked food directly from the fridge, it all adds up to money going into the trash.

Take Whole Foods for instance – they have a specific system in place to help reduce the wasted product that stems from having lots of fresh food on hand. Whole Foods buys as locally as possible and typically uses a visual assessment of when a new order needs to be placed.

To take this idea home, you should never shop for food for more than a week in advance. That will help limit the amount of waste you have from rot. It should also keep the bill lower at the register as you will need to buy less quantity on each trip. You should also know your own inventory levels. Don’t guess at the store if you have something and end up with two.

Buy Direct

If you’ve ever heard the phrase “cut out the middleman” this is what it is referring to. As the world grows smaller, the options for consumers are getting larger. There are countless sites that connect the end consumer to the producer which can mean big savings. A perfect example is http://nevadagrown.com/ which allows Nevadans to search for local meat and produce sources that are direct suppliers. Many of these farms and ranchers are willing to sell directly to the customer because the farm then realizes all of the profit rather than selling to a store for the same amount and having the store mark-up the price. None of that mark-up goes back to the producer.

One of the key components of a successful supply chain is getting the product to the end location with as few hands as possible touching it along the way. By thinking outside the box you can look to avoid some of the transportation costs and other markups that increase the end cost to users.

In the end, supply chain management doesn’t have to be a global practice used solely by large corporations. The same principles that these companies use every day can be applied to your everyday life to help save time and cut costs. In many cases, you’re probably already doing it and don’t even realize it!

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