Supply Chain Calibration

The scientific definition of calibration is to check, adjust, or standardize a measuring instrument, usually by comparing it with an accepted model. In a lab, instruments must be calibrated regularly if they are to yield accurate measurements.

The same holds true for supply chains. Regardless of how much effort is put into supply chain plans, systems or measurements, the plans, systems and measurements will have to be calibrated from time to time to keep them running smoothly. But when should you calibrate?

A recent article in Design News had some good tips on when to calibrate. Basically, you calibrate when:

  • Measurement varies from observed results or results seem unusual

    For example, your system records 90% on time delivery, but your warehouse staff are claiming the number is closer 70%. This could happen if your system only records day of delivery, and not time.

  • A disruption occurs

    After a significant disruption, such as a supplier going bankrupt, which forces you to shift to a new source of supply, you’ll have to recalibrate your measurements to the new mode of operations.

  • A new high-value element is being added to the supply chain

    When you start sourcing a new product or service that’s high value, you want to make sure everything is running smooth to insure you maximize your investment.

  • A contract stipulates precise performance

    Everything needs to be double checked, especially if there are corresponding penalties for non-performance.

  • Too many imperfect orders

    If the system allows a dip in perfect order performance, it needs to be calibrated to find, and fix, the failure.

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