Slashing lead times is one of the most pressing supply chain trends. By identifying trends early on you can devise ways to leverage them to your advantage.

I spoke to ISM (the Institute for Supply Management) last night about supply chain trends, and it reminded me of the importance of watching for and leveraging supply chain trends. I look for what the vast majority of my clients have in common in terms of concerns, desires, etc. If an $8 million dollar manufacturer in building products has the same concern as an $80 million dollar food-processing manufacturer, and a $250 million dollar facility of a multi-billion dollar aerospace manufacturer and a $25 million dollar distributor, it is obvious it is a trend to note. How can we better understand the trend and its impact on the business? Can we do anything to better prepare for this trend? Is there some way to leverage the trend for our business?

For example, shortened lead times is a trend that exists across all of my clients currently. I am working with a vertically integrated outdoor lighting manufacturer that ships the vast majority of their orders the same day they are received; a whole house fan manufacturer that ships within 24 hours; a company that supplies the plumbing industry that ships within 24-48 hours; an aerospace manufacturer with lead time requests to be slashed; a food-processing manufacturer that ships within a few days (with more and more requests for quicker turnaround) and the list goes on. The common thread is that lead times are critical to growing the business. Customers want items immediately in today’s Amazon-impacted marketplace. What programs can you implement to help reduce lead times while maintaining/improving margins and accelerating cash flow? Are there any systems that would help you achieve these objectives? What people should you train, develop, hire, etc.?

Those who leverage trends surpass the competition. Will you be one of them?