Whether it’s a construction project or a manufacturing plant, having the required inventory at your disposal is necessary. Well-established supply chain management means you can have all your industrial hardware supplies at the ready when you need them. That, in turn, helps you finish your project on time.
However, there are a lot of factors affecting the global industrial hardware supply chain. The two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have taken a toll on how industrial hardware suppliers operate. As the global economy gets accustomed to the new normal, you have to get your supply chain sorted.
Let’s take a look at the six top factors affecting the supply chain of industrial hardware.
- Emerging Technologies
Technology has always been at the forefront of the industrial revolution, and supply chains are no exception to this trend. As an industrial hardware distributor, you have to be on top of the emerging technologies in your niche. Investing in the latest technology can help improve efficiency and enable better supply chain management.
Many companies now invest in supply chain management (SCM) and enterprise resource management (ERM) software. According to Pitchbook, global sales of SCM software alone are likely to reach a staggering $24.5 billion in 2025 from $13.6 billion in 2020.
Several groundbreaking technologies are already changing the face of the global supply chain industry. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are at the forefront of this change.
These technologies are helping industrial hardware suppliers worldwide optimize their supply chain, offer real-time visibility, and lower shipping costs. These benefits transform into a better experience for the end customers as they get industrial hardware supplies at a faster speed and relatively lower cost.
- Growing Talent Shortage
Another factor you will have to watch out for as an industrial hardware supplier is the growing talent shortage. Like most other industries, the global supply chain industry is also facing a deepening talent shortage.
According to Deloitte, the talent shortage is likely to leave 2.4 million positions unfilled between 2018 and 2028 in the supply chain industry, causing a potential economic impact of $2.5 trillion. The report also estimates that the positions relating to digital talent, skilled production, and operational managers may be three times as difficult to fill in the next three years.
The supply chain industry seems to be struggling on two fronts – career image problems and inadequate training. The young workforce isn’t getting attracted to the supply chain industry, widening the talent gap. On top of that, it is becoming challenging to retain the existing talent. On the other hand, the methods used to educate and train the new force are inadequate. They often fail to prepare the young talent for Industry 4.0.
- Increasingly Unpredictable Market Demand
Everyone felt the ripples of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the global industrial hardware market. The sudden challenges faced by the supply chain industry showed us that demand for different industrial hardware supplies will become even more unpredictable in the future.
Add to this the pressure of ever-increasing customer expectations, seasonal fluctuations, and the need for personalized services. It puts tremendous pressure on your supply chain management.
Moreover, we now live in a world of instant gratification. As a result, market trends keep shifting by the hour, making it necessary for your as an industrial hardware supplier to recognize these tectonic shifts before they hit the market.
For your supply chain to survive, you will need to get accurate demand insights. And this comes from the minute-by-minute visibility of your entire supply network. You will need to know where, when, and how each piece of your inventory moves to optimize the delivery speed and accuracy.
- Customer-Centric Industrial Hardware Supply Chain
Today’s customers have a voice. If anything, they are becoming increasingly vocal about their needs as online retail becomes more prevalent. The global industrial hardware niche is no exception to this increasingly customer-centric market.
Being an industrial hardware distributor, you will need to consider what your customers need and address their concerns immediately. The first rule of thumb – customers don’t always share the same perception as the suppliers.
Usually, they are more concerned about:
- On-time delivery to avoid unnecessary project delays
- Express or overnight delivery to hit the ground running as soon as possible
- Low cost but high-quality products to get more bang for every buck they spend
- Getting customized industrial hardware supplies to meet their unique business needs
Can your existing supply chain satisfy these customer needs?
If not, you will need to optimize your supply chain accordingly. Think about what your customers want and how you can enhance their satisfaction levels. You could start with a simple customer satisfaction survey to understand the gaps in your current delivery network. Find these gaps and address them as quickly as possible.
- Automated Data Collection
Automated data collection is useful in tracking high-value industrial hardware supplies. You can use the collected data to avoid oversights in handling high-cost equipment and hardware. With this automation, you can easily track how much the packaging, transport, and doorstep delivery cost you.
In other words, automated data collection allows you to track both the logistic and financial arms of a supply chain. As an industrial hardware supplier, this data can help you ensure continuous improvement, allowing you to stay ahead of your competitors.
- Shipping and Transportation Costs
Keeping the shipping and transportation costs low is challenging for most industrial hardware distributors. The rising fuel and labor costs often make it difficult to curb these expenses. However, logistics is at the heart of an efficient industrial hardware supply chain.
So, take a long hard look at your current shipping and transportation processes. If you have in-house logistics, find a way to reduce your costs. For example, consolidating shipments can help you save more money on every order.
But the best way to bring down these costs would be outsourcing. When you outsource to dedicated transport companies, your logistics costs will go down drastically. Just be sure to choose a trusted and experienced logistics company.
Today, effective supply chain solutions are more than a necessity. As a distributor, a well-optimized supply chain can help you deliver timely, low-cost, and easily accessible industrial hardware supplies. With the global supply chain industry going in overdrive during the pandemic, you need to step up your game or risk falling behind. Hopefully, understanding how these six factors affect an industrial hardware supply chain can help you improve its efficiency and speed.