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Supply Chain Safety & Compliance: How To Avoid Company Risk & Customer Harm

One minute, you’re enjoying the sweet sounds of music emanating from your wireless headphones.The next minute, your face burns as your ordinarily safe and reliable headphones explode in your ears.

It sounds improbable, but that’s exactly what happened to one young woman during a recent flight from Beijing to Melbourne.

Safety officials say the lithium-ion batteries inside the headphones likely caught fire.

The woman suffered burns to her face and hands after her headphones caught fire during a flight to Australia. Photo courtesy: Australian Transport Safety Bureau

The woman suffered burns to her face and hands after her headphones caught fire during a flight to Australia. Photo courtesy: Australian Transport Safety Bureau

As a consumer, this tale should frighten you. After all, we use these batteries all the time – to do everything from power our mobile devices to run our computers.

As a supply chain expert, this anecdote should be even more alarming. If your business isn’t taking the proper safety precautions and measures to ensure compliance, you could be putting your company at risk and your end consumers in harm’s way.

Your supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link

A modern-day supply chain is built on collaboration. Multiple enterprises work together, with each providing an essential supply chain service, including:

  • Supplying raw materials
  • Manufacturing products
  • Distributing goods
  • Selling items directly to customers

Because supply chain success depends on several different organizations, it’s crucial you team up with reputable partners that can deliver what they promise.

If you try to cut corners and work with a cheap supplier, for example, you run the risk of sacrificing certain safety and quality standards.

So how can you ensure your partners are trustworthy, capable of pulling their own weight, and equipped to contribute to the overall supply chain’s success?

Gain a 360-degree view of your partners with a digital supply chain

Ninety percent of CEOs believe the digital economy is having a major impact on their industry, according to SAP research.

To stay competitive in today’s increasingly complex landscape, companies must make the switch from operating a traditional supply chain to managing a digital supply chain.

Through digitalization, you can gain real-time visibility into your end-to-end supply chain operations.

This makes it easier to collect information from your partners and share insight with key collaborators, so you can:

  • Anticipate problems
  • Reduce uncertainty
  • Mitigate risk
  • Improve safety
  • Ensure compliance

Enabling a digital supply chain and achieving the above goals will also provide serious business benefits for your organization.

For instance, a digital supply chain can lower procurement costs by 20%, reduce supply chain process costs by 50%, and increase revenue by 10%, according to recent Center for Global Enterprise (CGE) research.

Don’t let the unexpected happen to you

Digitalization is merely the first step in improving supply chain safety and compliance.

What matters most is what you do with the insight you gain through the increased visibility a digital supply chain offers.

With more information at your disposal, you can take the necessary steps to better manage partner compliance; create safety data sheets; label hazardous materials properly and package, transport, and store them safely; communicate safe work practices; and prevent safety incidents.

Taking these steps will help your supply chain organization avoid company risk and customer harm – in the form of exploding headphones or some other unforeseen disaster.

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