At Alba Logistics we use a systems approach to supply chain management. There are several advantages to taking this approach over taking the more traditional reductionist approach to studying supply chains, such as:
Avoiding Unintended Consequences – Applying a systems approach is more likely to help avoid the unintended consequences of certain actions than if a more reductionist approach is taken.
System Optimization over Component Optimization – A systems approach can provide the understanding that an overall system can be optimized while at the same a particular component within it may be sub-optimized.
In a recent project at a consumer electronics plant, the warehouse operation was reconfigured in terms of its physical layout, material location strategy and ways of working. Using a systems approach, we optimised and improved even though more-man hours were going to have to be employed in warehouse activities.
Ability to tackle complexity and to identify points of leverage that will have maximum systemic impact – In a recent project, the challenge was to increase the throughput capability of a warehouse unit. If we had not used the systems approach, it is likely that the anticipated improvements would not have materialised. We would not have considered communications dynamics. This proved to be the key points of leverage that made all the difference.