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What Is Supply Chain Flexibility?

On: October 24, 2022    |    By: Dr. Cheryl McCloud Dr. Cheryl McCloud    |    2 min. read

What Is Supply Chain Flexibility? | Shipping SolutionsFlexibility is a constantly changing and evolving idea in the world of supply chain management. Traditional supply chain management operates rigidly, where small disruptions have big consequences. Supply chain flexibility, on the other hand, creates a willingness to adapt and respond to changes quickly, while eliminating critical risks in the process.

Flexibility is valuable because it builds in more choices and allows for quick and immediate responses to situations that arise. This article will discuss several types of supply chain flexibility and how they support changing demands in the supply chain risk management process.

9 Types of Supply Chain Flexibility

1. Volume

Volume flexibility provides ways to adapt and adjust to volume changes in orders to meet supplier needs and prevent problems with inventory levels.

2. Scheduling

Scheduling flexibility allows for changes in production and delivery schedules.

3. Physical

Physical flexibility involves the process of moving products around in the warehouse environment to support easy picking, packing, loading and sorting of goods.

4. Design

Design flexibility provides the ability to change product features to update, remarket and/or meet new market/customer demands.

5. Material

Material flexibility enables the process of switching out product for variations that change value, standards and/or customer needs.

6. Energy 

Energy flexibility uses various fuel sources to support all operational needs.

7. Lead Time

Lead time flexibility controls delivery times based on default times in processing.

8. Supply Chain Design

Supply chain design flexibility uses technology configurations to exchange information and data to support customer and operational needs.

9. Logistics

Logistics flexibility is getting product from point A to B via any mode of transport.

In reviewing the above flexibility models, we can see each are unique but work together for competitive advantages. The modern-day supply chain is complex and involves multiple risks. Knowing where flexibility exists in the chain provides cost and time savings that are critical for successful operations and decision making.

Collaboration and communication between multiple parties is key in all of these processes and required for success. A flexible supply chain ensures competitive global market growth, expansion and brand awareness. Risk assessment strategies that include these flexibility models create a better understanding of how your supply chain operations flow, leading to stronger relationships and better products and pricing. Supply demands that are met and efficient operations will lead to higher sales, pricing and success for your organization. 

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