hands holding tablet in front of warehouse racks with white background and black text on right reading planning for the modern supply chain

Planning for the Modern Supply Chain

After 2020, it seems like nothing is quite the same as it ever was before. Between the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic around the globe, huge numbers of labor shortages throughout the country, and more, the world as we know it has dramatically shifted. In some respects, we’ve seen positives like increased flexibility in the workplace or better abilities to stay virtually connected with loved ones far away. However, not everything has changed for the better, including the modern supply chain. Across the world, we now face significant delays in all kinds of supplies and materials, as well as rising expenses for what seems like just about everything. So how does a person or business learn how to navigate and plan for the modern supply chain?

The Supply Chain Today

Even if you’ve been in the procurement, operations, or shipping business for many years, today’s supply chain presents a number of new and unique challenges. To a degree we’ve never seen before, products and raw materials alike are taking huge amounts of time to reach the people who need them. It’s likely you’ve dealt with this problem in both your personal and professional life – have you tried buying a living room couch or maybe a new vehicle lately? What about lumber or electronics components? Across the board, it feels like just about everything is running behind. 

four blue loading doors in docking bay

This can largely be attributed to shutdowns and lockdowns that took place during peak of the pandemic, as well as the ongoing labor shortage around the United States.

In addition to massive delays and constantly increasing lead times, many businesses are also facing an increase in the cost of goods. It often feels like we see price hikes for raw materials just about everywhere and every day. Combatting this can be immensely difficult for companies that will need to either absorb those costs or pass them along to consumers, who will be just as unhappy to receive them. Much like the long lead times now in place for products around the world, this rise in prices is due in large part to the aftereffects of pandemic shutdowns, material shortages, and labor scarcity.

Navigate the Packaging Supply Chain with Ease

Though the frustrations of the modern supply chain are high and seemingly unavoidable, there are a few steps your company can take to mitigate them as much as possible.

aerial shot of warehouse aisle with tall blue racks full of supplies on either side

Plan and Order Ahead: As the old adage goes, “by failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” This couldn’t be more true for the packaging industry and supply chain. Keep in mind what packaging materials you needed last year at any given time and account for fluctuations taking place this year – are you shipping more or less? Is a different item more popular? Or has pretty much everything remained the same? Once you get those factors determined, make a plan to order what you need for the next few months right now. That way, when the busiest seasons arrive, you’re ready to go and already ordering what you need for a few months after that.

Maintain the Stock You Need: This goes hand-in-hand with staying prepared and ordering ahead. Three months ago, if you ordered what you need for right now, you’re good to go. And instead of running lean like so many do with their packaging these days, consider keeping an extra inventory on hand. If you have the space for it, this can make a huge difference in customer satisfaction when you get hit with an unexpected delay on your usual packaging supplies.

Automate for Less Waste: Packaging automation comes with a huge number of benefits. One of the very best of those advantages is its ability to effectively use materials like tape, stretch film, strapping, and beyond. In fact, automated packaging equipment like case sealers or stretch wrappers will utilize significantly less material than a person would to achieve the same outcome. This allows your business to reduce overall waste and keep more inventory on hand, while also accounting for any labor shortages you may be facing.

A Distributor Can Solve Your Supply Chain Woes

One of the major advantages of working with a distributor like IPS Packaging & Automation is that we can access the packaging supplies and equipment you need from a wide variety of sources. That means when your vendor runs out of your corrugated boxes, our team can easily find another option that’s just as good. While lead times across the board are longer than usual, IPS Packaging & Automation can assist with stocking agreements that keep what you need on hand, finding you the right piece of packaging equipment to cut costs and reduce waste, and much, much more. Contact us today or give us a call at (800) 277-7007 so we can be your cost savings partner.