The supply chain describes the whole process from shipping goods till delivering those to the recipient.
Certain parties have to collaborate to fulfil all roles, tasks and activities. It is a network of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. Supply chain activities transform natural resources, raw materials and components into a finished product that is delivered to the end customer. In sophisticated supply chain systems, used products may re-enter the supply chain at any point where residual value is recyclable.
In the 1980s, the term Supply Chain Management (SCM) was developed to express the need to integrate the key business processes, from end user through original suppliers. Original suppliers being those that provide products, services and information that add value for customers and other stakeholders. The basic idea behind the SCM is that companies and corporations involve themselves in a supply chain by exchanging information regarding market fluctuations and production capabilities. [http://synerflexconsulting.com/supply-chain-management-scm 2011]
Supply Chain Management encompasses the planning and management of all activities involved in sourcing and procurement, conversion, and all logistics management activities. Importantly, it also includes coordination and collaboration with channel partners, which can be suppliers, intermediaries, third-party service providers, and customers. In essence, supply chain management integrates supply and demand management within and across companies. Supply Chain Management is an integrating function with primary responsibility for linking major business functions and business processes within and across companies into a cohesive and high-performing business model. It includes all of the logistics management activities noted above, as well as manufacturing operations, and it drives coordination of processes and activities with and across marketing, sales, product design, finance and information technology. [http://cscmp.org/aboutcscmp/definitions.asp 2011]
If all relevant information is accessible to any relevant company, every company in the supply chain has the possibility to and can seek to help optimizing the entire supply chain rather than sub optimize based on a local interest. This will lead to better planned overall production and distribution which can cut costs and give a more attractive final product leading to better sales and better overall results for the companies involved.[http://synerflexconsulting.com/supply-chain-management-scm 2011]
Incorporating SCM successfully leads to a new kind of competition on the global market where competition is no longer of the company versus company form but rather takes on a supply chain versus supply chain form.[http://synerflexconsulting.com/supply-chain-management-scm 2011]
The primary objective of supply chain management is to fulfill customer demands through the most efficient use of resources, including distribution capacity, inventory and labor. In theory, a supply chain seeks to match demand with supply and do so with the minimal inventory. Various aspects of optimizing the supply chain include liaising with suppliers to eliminate bottlenecks; sourcing strategically to strike a balance between lowest material cost and transportation, implementing JIT (Just In Time) techniques to optimize manufacturing flow; maintaining the right mix and location of factories and warehouses to serve customer markets, and using location/allocation, vehicle routing analysis, dynamic programming and, of course, traditional logistics optimization to maximize the efficiency of the distribution side.[http://synerflexconsulting.com/supply-chain-management-scm 2011]
A basic element in a supply chain is trust among the partners. Unlike the spot forwarding market a supply chain requires long term collaboration and partnership to achieve the benefits expected.
For continuous improvement a mechanism within the supply chain shall be implemented in order to optimize and smooth the process. This mean the amplifications effect should be shared all over the supply chain.
There is often confusion over the terms supply chain and logistics. It is now generally accepted that the term Logistics applies to activities within one company/organization involving distribution of product whereas the term supply chain also encompasses manufacturing and procurement and therefore has a much broader focus as it involves multiple enterprises, including suppliers, manufacturers and retailers, working together to meet a customer need for a product or service.[http://synerflexconsulting.com/supply-chain-management-scm 2011]
Starting in the 1990s several companies chose to outsource the logistics aspect of supply chain management by partnering with a 3PL, Third-party logistics provider. Companies also outsource production to contract manufacturers. Technology companies have risen to meet the demand to help manage these complex systems.[http://synerflexconsulting.com/supply-chain-management-scm 2011]
The vast majority of the partners in supply chains are appear in a lot of different roles in different supply chains. This is valid for the 3PL and 4PL service providers who’s business model is to offer certain parts or the full supply chain service.