When supply chain professionals plan for future demand, their thoughts gravitate to meeting customer service levels while minimizing the amount of capital tied up in inventory. Demand planning and warehouse inventory management is about having the right product in the right place at the right time … right? Four occurrences of the same word would cause my old English teacher to shudder at this excessive use of a word in a single sentence. However, let us return to the important business of meeting consumer demand without incurring the cost of excess inventory.
The product may have reached the warehouse in time to preserve safety stock levels however it has not completed its journey. If not the warehouse, where is this right place? It is not a building. The right place is not made of concrete nor is it made of metal, plastic or cardboard. The right place is in your hands. You are the consumer. Only then has the product reached its destination and indeed its destiny.
Every day, supply chain professionals examine ways to ensure that products reach their destiny. Products are to be consumed, not expired, lost or damaged. Have you seen the Ikea ad with the sad little lamp left on the side of a busy street, wet with rain while its replacement shines brightly in the window on the third floor? Just when you start feeling sorry for this inanimate object, the familiar voice of the Ikea guy brings you back to reality. Why the heck am I feeling sad for a lamp!? Yet there is something sad about expired products.
Products should reach the consumer well before their expiry date. A person or group of persons conceived this product; raw materials were harvested and energy was expended. What a waste! Furthermore, expired product must be securely disposed of or find their way back up the supply chain. One thing for sure, expired products must not reach the hands of a consumer.
The solution is a mix of know-how and the right tools. Let’s work together to reduce waste by ensuring products are consumed before they lose their value. Let’s get the right product in the right hands at the right time!