The APQC Blog

Can We Learn from Emergency Supply Chains?

Can we learn from emergency supply chains?

A few weeks ago there was a large condo fire at the building next to mine. I had the opportunity to watch firsthand the “supply chain” of fire rescue. Few people are involved in such an important supply chain where seconds can mean people’s lives, but when you break it down it really is a supply chain. A network is setup to facilitate customer orders, an order is received, a system decides which warehouse is best to fulfill the order, the warehouse receives the order and the product is sent to the customer.

Although the urgency and the delivery method differ from most other supply chains (think big red firetrucks, sirens, and exemption from traffic laws), fire rescue still has the typical components of a supply chain and I think we all could benefit from faster response times.

Improving cycle times and getting products to customers faster is an important goal to reach for. To improve your order to delivery times, look at your internal processes. Here are a few questions that can help bring down your cycle times.

  • Can automation help reduce order to delivery times?
  • Can producing smaller or larger batches help reduce fulfillment times?
  • What are other similar organizations doing?
  • Where can I cut out non-value added time and tasks?

To answer the overall question, yes, we can learn from emergency supply chains. Just having someone tasked with these types of questions and more make it possible to reduce cycle times. Here are a couple of links that help give you more information on cycle times in the supply chain: