How to Reduce Lead Times in Your Supply Chain

Slow lead times can be incredibly frustrating, for customers and OEMs alike. Lengthy lead times in a supply chain slow down all processes in a ripple effect. Having to wait for parts often means that your customers have to wait longer than they expected and this can result in a loss of business. 

Whilst rare instances of delays or product unavailability probably won’t deter dedicated customers, a pattern of these disturbances will inevitably lead them to take their business elsewhere.

If you’re wondering how to reduce lead times in your supply chain, then we’ve got some tips that might help.

 

Work with your suppliers on forecasts

One way to reduce lead times in your supply chain is to forecast what you will need in the future and share this data with your supplier. Whilst there will always be variations, using the concrete figures of sales data will give you and your supplier a good idea of when you will need specific parts or when you might need a higher volume than usual.

Your suppliers want to be able to meet your order requirements on schedule, and an accurate forecast will help them to prepare, produce and put aside your parts well in advance, ready for when you need them the most.

 

Use kitting services

Kitting is something you can directly control to increase efficiency within your business. This process involves pre-batching components that are often used together in your products to save workers time when assembling them. If, for example, most of your products that use X also use Y, then having these products grouped together upon delivery will result in a much quicker production line. 

Kitting services are even available to create kits for your individual products, making them a great way to reduce lead times in your supply chain and get your products to your customers as swiftly as possible.

 

Streamline your supply chain

Using multiple suppliers and partners in your supply chain can be unwieldy and cumbersome, and ensuring your timeline is adhered to becomes much more difficult. One thing that will significantly help you reduce the lead times in your supply chain is consolidating the number of suppliers you use. 

Whilst different suppliers will get you better deals on certain products, the money you may lose from extensive lead times will eventually outweigh any initial savings. You should keep backup suppliers in case of any problems with your main sources but handling too many accounts (especially those with contractual obligations) can take a serious toll on your business.

 

Be able to respond to changes in the market

You never know when things might change, so staying vigilant and flexible is the key to avoiding long lead times. If there is a market shortage in one of the components that you need, see what changes would need to be made in your product to replace that component with a standard version that may be more readily available. 

You also need to make sure that you choose backup suppliers who aren’t so similar to your primary suppliers that they also suffer from a production issue that is affecting your ability to use your first-choice partners.

 

Choose strategic partners, not just suppliers

With some suppliers, they want you to buy their components, but that is often as far as the relationship goes. One of the best ways to reduce lead times in your supply chain is to choose strategic supply partners who are as invested in the finished product as you are. Having a shared goal of delivering a quality product on schedule will naturally mean that your partners are as eager for the parts to reach you on time as you are. 

Strategic partners are in it for the long-term, knowing that if you are successful, they will be as well. You have a shared goal and a mutually beneficial partnership that depends on delivering promises.

 

Hopefully these tips have given you some ideas about how to reduce the lead times in your supply chain. You can find out more about our supply chain solutions here.