May 16, 2023 | Supply Chain Strategy
Picture this. As a supply chain manager, you just got to know that a batch of cables is running much behind the scheduled delivery time, and that too for a new project that was supposed to get kickstarted. And the consequences are comprehensible. Delays in receiving materials can spell disaster for any project.
Cable supply chain management is a crucial aspect of any project that requires electrical connections. It involves the coordination of various stages, including sourcing, procurement, manufacturing, transportation, and delivery of cables. Any inefficiency in the supply chain can potentially cause significant disruptions to a project's timeline and budget. But delays and inefficiencies can be prevented with a proactive approach.
The cable supply chain begins with sourcing, where the raw materials could be copper, aluminum, or other materials depending on the use case or requirements. The materials are then processed into cables at manufacturing facilities and tested through a series of quality checks before being shipped.
However, the worry doesn’t necessarily stop at this point. Transportation is a critical phase in the cable supply chain. The cables need to be transported intact from the manufacturing facility to the customer, without any damage or delay.
The cable supply chain faces a multitude of challenges and issues that can adversely affect a customer’s project timeline, budget, and quality. Some of these challenges include:
Availability and pricing of raw materials are often inversely proportional, and this can affect cable production. With increase in demand for copper and aluminum, the cost of production eventually goes up, thereby causing a ripple effect on the final price of the product.
It’s critical that specifications are met, based on the customer’s requirements. And given the critical nature of requirements, any deviation from the set parameters could lead to safety hazards or performance issues.
It’s a logistical challenge to ship cables from the point of origin to delivery. As such, delays or damage during transit could stretch delivery timelines by quite a margin and lead to increased costs.
Optimizing the cable supply chain requires tuning into certain best practices — ones that can help overcome the challenges and ensure a smooth and efficient supply chain process. Some of the best practices include:
Strong supplier relationships can help enterprises ensure a steady supply of raw materials and timely delivery of finished products, every time. Supplier collaboration also leads to innovations and achieving cost savings.
A robust quality control system can help prevent and eliminate the use of substandard materials and non-compliance with project specifications. The process typically starts at the sourcing stage and continues through production and transportation.
Technology should for the core of all supply chain operations — so that it can help enterprises streamline processes within their supply chains. Efficient technologies such as RFID, barcodes, GPS tracking can quite easily keep track of products’ movement and ensure timely delivery.
The cable supply chain is of critical importance to the power as well as information technology industry, or any vertical that requires electrical or data connections. Delays and inefficiencies in the supply chain can lead to significant disruptions, with consequences for the supplier as well as the project's timeline and budget on the customer side. Identifying the challenges and implementing the best practices mentioned above can help optimize the cable supply chain and ensure smooth and efficient delivery of cables.
The other aspect that needs to be considered and incorporated within the supply chain strategy is supply chain sustainability. As global businesses strive to achieve Net Zero or seek to go carbon neutral, sustainable business practice means becoming environmentally conscious, more so for the cable industry as the disposal of used cables has a significant impact on the environment.
The cable industry however has many options to include sustainable business practices, such as promoting the use of recycled materials. Some cable manufacturers have started utilizing recycled copper and even polyethylene in their products, thus reducing the need for new resources. Companies can focus on new technologies to create energy-efficient cables, which can further reduce the amount of electricity lost during transmission.
Overall, a cable supply chain strategy should not only consider the traditional aspects of sourcing, procurement, and logistics but it should also factor in sustainability. By promoting sustainable business practices and utilizing recycled materials, the cable industry can contribute to a more environmentally conscious future while also ensuring a reliable and efficient supply chain.