If you’re like most large manufacturers, the management of supplier goods is a complex process with multiple stakeholders. While the titles and roles may vary among organizations, the basic supplier workflow is generally the same.
You have Planning that drives forecast and production scheduling, and Procurement that purchases materials from vendors based on those demand forecasts. Operations oversees the flow of incoming goods in the production line, and then Warehouse Management receives inbound shipments and moves them into inventory until ready for use.
Where it gets messy—and where you are likely to experience significant costs in time and money—is the physical handoff from your supplier. Essentially, when the box hits the dock. All too often we see a reliance on the Advanced Shipping Notice (ASN) in which the supplier alerts you of pending deliveries at the header level. You may see a product name, a PO#, and select dates, but the ASN does not contain many of the details that receiving or warehouse management needs, such as pallet breakdown. Then there are the labels themselves on the pallets and boxes, which were created by the supplier with no certainty that they are correct or aligned with your downstream process and data.
That’s why it’s not unusual to see pallets and pallets of supplier goods stacked up in receiving waiting to be sorted out and relabeled. If things go right, you or a 3PL partner will spend several days creating and printing new labels, which drives the need for additional buffer inventory. You can end up spending hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars reconciling supplier goods and driving up inventory costs. Ask yourself this: If it takes weeks for supplies to travel thousands of miles from Asia to your dock, why does it take another several days for the same supplies to move a few hundred feet to be properly processed for your operation?
There is a better way…and it points to the label. Think about it; the label connects the supplier’s intent to your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and, equally important, to the part itself. What if you could control the labeling outside your four walls so that shipments from suppliers and other trading partners were labeled with the information you required? Your data, your barcodes, your instructions, your process?
Thanks to new advancements in browser-based enterprise labeling, you can make this a reality. By using data directly from your ERP and merging it with supplier actions, you ensure that inbound materials are labeled and formatted the right way—your way, securely. In addition, you can track goods with unprecedented visibility to respond faster and smarter to fluctuations in supply and demand.