Supply Chain Management Made Easy

medium_Laurel_2012.jpegThe weekly Verdigris blog by Laurel Brunner

The printing and publishing industries have been pretty immune to consultants and their management buzzwords. But maybe it’s time to put the scepticism aside as there’s a lot they can offer, especially for managing environmental impact. Coming slowly into favour are the principles of supply chain management which are gradually seeping their way into the graphic arts.

Supply chain management on a small scale has been common for years within prepress. Managing the various links in the data chain clearly improves workflow efficiency to ensure flawless file processing. When it comes to managing customers and clients along the same lines, the processes and benefits are less straightforward. However understanding the supply chain and its transparency are at the heart of environmental certification schemes such as FSC and PEFC. These are chain of custody schemes that look at all parts of the wood supply chain to ensure that all transactions and processes are legal.

Supply chain management covers a lot of territory, but it basically comes down to keeping track of everything required to support and produce a product. In a digital environment this has to include clients and third party service providers, such as web site enhancements or finishing. The management has to be as efficient and cost effective as possible, from procurement procedures and raw materials sourcing through to logistics and delivery to end users.

How complicated this gets depends on a company’s size and resources, but more important is management’s commitment to efficiency. Lip service simply won’t cut it. Supply chain management can be useful within the framework of an environmental management system, using supply chain management software to track and manage carbon footprints.

We recently came across an interesting cooperative called Myrmex which has developed a Software As A Service (SaaS) platform that companies can use to track socio-environmental performance in their supply chains. The platform allows printers and publishers to set up and manage their own business requirements. This can include how well a supplier meets various Corporate Social Responsibility criteria, product carbon footprinting or label verification and regulatory compliance. The Myrmex platform helps you to evaluate how well your supply chain is working and the extent to which it meets environmental performance goals. It’s also a useful way to communicate your environmental policy and for data gathering. For instance you can use it to collect the information required for compliance to eco-labels, as well as verifying that suppliers meet the requirements of the label. However you do it, extended supply chain management is the next step for printers and publishers who want to improve business process efficiency and environmental impact management.

– Laurel Brunner

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