As you look toward the future of your firm, there are countless concerns that probably come to mind. Things like when you will have to make new hires, how to schedule R&D processes, or how to improve product and services support are all vitally important for your company’s continued success. However, here is one essential issue that businesses often seem to forget: ensuring scalability in the supply chain. Addressing the following concerns will make certain that you don't end up with limping production down the road.
Be certain that your partners can support rapid growth.
Especially after working with a supplier for some time, it’s easy to distance yourself from their business operations. If this has become the case, reframing your relationship with your suppliers might be in order. You’re suppliers are your partners. If you want your own business to succeed, you are going to need theirs to be thriving as well. This mutual support should encourage you to stay attuned on what is going on with your suppliers as much as possible.
The problem with not staying completely up to speed on what is going on with your suppliers is that you might get a shock once your own business begins to substantially increase capacity and scale. In cultivating your relationship with suppliers, you want to be able to keep an eye on what they are doing to continually improve capacity. Are they reworking their processes and improving their facilities? Are they making wise investments in their business? If they aren’t, they might not be up to the challenge of supporting your long-term growth.
A supplier that is growing with you and making provisions for rapid scaling can be a partner for a long time. On the other hand, a supplier that is not poised to grow, no matter how friendly or established, will only end up preventing future growth and margins.
Design products with readily available materials.
Having a design team that prides themselves on being on the forefront of innovation can be an enormous asset to your company. But it can also cause your product to include components that are hard to find. Crafting the most efficient bill of materials is all about balancing the benefits and drawbacks to each piece.
Including a component made from an innovative raw material might offer a variety of advantages to your product, depending on your industry. However, it takes a much longer time for production curves of raw materials to scale than for other goods, especially if these materials require complex production or refinement methods. The longer it takes these materials to become widely used, the longer it will burden your margins and potentially delay your delivery dates.
Innovative materials are the proverbial double-edged sword: they can lend your product flash and increased performance, while they can also cripple your ability to quickly scale. Factoring your supply chain into the design equation will insure your choices are balanced toward the long-term.
Ultimately, it's necessary to realize that the scalability curves upstream from your product will filter down. If your suppliers cannot scale with the same rapidity you have, they will slow you down. If the materials you are utilizing do not increase in availability more quickly than your own production volumes, they are going to further stack your margins.
If you can manage to factor these elements into your supply chain now, you'll be well on your way to insuring your manufacturing will scale with efficiency.