Three Steps Manufacturers Can Take to Counter Demand Volatility in the 'New Normal'

A low-growth business climate puts pressure on traditional processes. Here are three steps to deal with the uncertain and unpredictable market


3. Start your sustainability efforts with your supply chain. An efficient supply chain is at the heart of any serious effort to become sustainable. While installing solar panels helps meet carbon targets, it is not core to the business. Likewise, introducing a green product line has no impact on the environmental footprint of other brands. True sustainable realignment needs to start with core manufacturing and distribution activities for all products, in a way that is both economically and environmentally sound. Reducing inventory levels adds to the bottom line while reducing carbon and water footprints. Likewise, getting the right products to the right location the first time avoids emergency shipments, decreasing transportation costs and carbon emissions. Not only is the environmental impact of supply chain efficiency good business, but the sheer scale is likely to dwarf "one-off" projects in non-core business areas.

The "New Normal" should not be seen as a manufacturing dilemma, but rather as an opportunity to win. By sensing demand and matching signals with production capabilities more frequently, manufacturers can quickly respond to market changes and ensure that retailers have the right product mix on store shelves. Manufacturers that embrace demand-driven planning and use their supply chain as a competitive advantage stand to increase profits, maintain service levels and improve the environment, despite these challenges. Carpe diem — it is time to win.

About the Author: Robert F. Byrne is president and CEO of Terra Technology, a provider of solutions for demand sensing and inventory optimization for consumer products companies. More information at www.terratechnology.com

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