The breakdown of relationships between members of the noodle wheat supply chain occurred due to the contamination of the product and import refusal that entailed operational and financial losses. Of course, contamination is more than just a rude mistake made by the suppliers, as they knew about the norms regarding carmoisine in Japan.
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Still, the problem could have been solved if they just agreed that some mistake was made and tried to solve it. Even though it was already not possible to avoid the losses, the relationships could have been saved. However, these two firms started to blame each other.
The communication between them occurred to be not decent, as they underlined the drawbacks, which were not considered objectively and solved. As a result, the issue repeated, which proved that the bulk handler did not consider it to be critical.
The problem with contamination seems to occur due to the improper work of grain marketer (stevedores & quarantine part, in particular), as it was responsible for testing and could have found a mistake. Of course, the producers should have also paid attention to the quality of the product, but its assessment by someone else was crucial. Then, the problems with the vessel in port and millers’ inability to meet the commitments worsened the situation.
Generally, the whole supply chain lacked proper communication and collaboration in the perspective of national peculiarities. They were as separate facilities, and it brought them to ruin. Japan considered trust and quality crucial, but its views were not decently perceived because of the import refusal and further complications in port.
As a result, the misunderstandings gathered and collapsed (Quesada, Gazo, & Sanchez, 2012). Thus, the mistakes made by the logistic and quality control systems proved that the supply chain failed to manage their appropriate work.
Trade relations often suffer because of the absence of proper testing and import refusals, as the connection between the connection between the producers and customers is extremely important. It takes lots of time to build new long-time relationships, as the organization is to deserve the customer’s confidence. Still, if once some issue occurs, the relations are sure to breakdown, and it will be extremely difficult to reestablish them.
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To ensure that there will not be the second contamination of carmoisine, grain producers, marketer, authority, and millers are to enhance their operations, and consider logistic and quality control systems, in particular. They should consider supply chain management processes and put them in place decently. First of all, they are to deal with the strategic planning process, which involves the creation on the working model. All locations, ways of transportation, etc. are to be designed and evaluated.
In this way, the firms will have a plan of actions in the alert situation, like the one that they faced. Safety stock and network planning should be managed because they allow the firms deliver and receive the products and services on the expected level, which presupposes that no issues associated with quality occur.
As it was mentioned, the organizations lacked appropriate collaboration regarding quality control, which would allow them to support and test each other. Thus, the customer and supplier collaboration processes are to attract lots of attention. By dint of them, the inventory will be discussed in detail, and the responsibility for it will be assumed.
Moreover, the firms will receive the information about the demand and stock, etc. Receipt conformation will also add quantitative data. Invoice verification is to ensure that the product was tested and that it meets the customer’s demands.
As the problem with contamination was faced twice, returns management is to be also discussed. “Return avoidance, gatekeeping and disposition guidelines” should be created because they allow the firm to minimalize returns and work effectively so that the customer is satisfied with the gained products (Croxton, García-Dastugue, Lambert, & Rogers, 2001, p. 29). Well-developed return network would have reduced the degree of distrust and save lots of money to both companies.
The importance of collaboration in the development and maintenance of an international agri-food market is undeniable, as it promotes sustainable relationships between the companies. With the help of decent collaboration, the firms gain an opportunity to create and maintain long-term relations, gain sustainable competitive advantage and decrease the number of possible issues related to the operations in the supply chain.
In the framework of the resource-based view, collaborative partner companies gain profit through not only the control of their resources but also their combination. The rational view also supports the idea of shared resources (such as knowledge, assets, etc.), and underlines that they can be gained while collaborating effectively.
The supply chain collaboration is “a partnership process where two or more autonomous firms work closely to plan and execute supply chain operations towards common goals and mutual benefits” (Rota, Reynolds, & Zanasi, 2012, p. 577).
Collaboration between supply chain partners enhances problems resolution and promotes the process of achieving the targeted goals. Collaboration at various levels provides the agents with the opportunity to remain competitive.
On the bases of the case, it occurs to be cleat that the consumer’s attitudes are extremely important in the agri-food sector as well as the regulations and laws that are related to the quality of the produced products. The collaboration among the agents proves that total performance at the various levels of business can be enhanced when working together and noticing the mistakes made by one another.
Still, the collaboration between the agents of the case study was not good enough, which is likely to happen due to the complexity of the industry’s structure and organizational differences. As the firms that cooperate are in different countries and have different cultural views, values, etc., the lack of trust can ruin their relations forever or do much harm to them.
Of course, the case study reviewed the problems that the Western Australian export grain supply chain had, but as the relations with Japan as well as other countries used to be good and lasted for a long time already, it seems that it had robust qualities.
It can be proven by the fact that “market relations in the Japanese context are largely based on trust, honor and long-term relations between supply chain actors, which makes establishing and maintaining markets a delicate and complex task” (Mangan, Lalwani, Butcher, & Javadpour, 2011, p. 386).
The ability of the Western Australian export grain supply chain to manage all complicated tasks cannot be denied, as the industry was considered extremely powerful from the 1930s. It gathered about 95% of the whole harvest without any critical issues.
The export industry also cooperated with the government and was supported by it. Becoming a monopoly, it controlled all peculiarities of the trading activity and worked with the grain traders and handlers successfully. The whole change had one mission “to optimize market returns for grain producers by selling and transporting export grain at peak efficiencies” (Mangan, Lalwani, Butcher, & Javadpour, 2011, p. 387).
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This view was shared by others, and they successfully collaborated and exchanged the information. The logistic and quality control systems used to work effectively all the time, but as the issue occurred twice, their efficiency should be questioned. It turned out that the control system is to be also controlled, but the chain was not ready to cope with this.
Why Supply Chains Should be Involved in Product Design
Generally, the design is seen as a critical element that allows differentiating the product. It is widely thought that the supply chain costs and complexity are greatly influenced by the design of the items. When creating a particular design, some companies tend to exaggerate and use expensive materials from different manufacturers, which often entails financial problems, and other risks like incredibility (Dumke, 2012).
Trying to gather all needed inventory and forecast those that are likely to be needed soon, the companies fail to create and deliver the product on time and in decent condition. In order to prevent these and similar issue, the supply chains should be involved in product design.
By dint of such implementations, the staff gains an opportunity to respond to the alterations in the consumers’ demand extremely quickly. Today such ability is very significant because many firms cannot forecast the clients’ expectations without it, especially if the product has a short life cycle.
With the help of changes in design, the components and materials used for the production can be more common. It leads to the reduction of different items; that does not really influence the quality of the product or the way it looks but allows carrying fewer inventories and provides an opportunity to predict expected alterations in the customers’ demands.
The new design can also reduce the amount of inventory by referring to the suppliers that work in short lead times. In this way, the firm can adapt to different demands quicker. Except for that, the consumers’ expectations can be forecasted considering a shorter period of time, which narrows the range of diversity. The modularity is likely to be increased because it has a positive influence on the construction by making it easier (Khan, Christopher, & Creazza, 2012).
Considering export supply chains and the need to transport the product from one location to another, the design can be altered so that it can be less damaged, and the amount of money needed for its carriage and storage reduces.
The usage of postponement can also enhance supply chain agility with the help of some changes in design. One and the same inventory can be used to create different products or different models of one product. It is also likely to reduce the costs and improve the quality of forecasting.
Considering everything mentioned, it occurs to be obvious that the mobility of the supply chain depends on the design of the products extremely. Thus, it is very important to refer to the supply chain expertise within the process of design creation.
The staff is to assess the selected design and help to improve it so that the result turns to be advantageous in different perspectives. Of course, there is an adverse side of such connection. Some decisions regarding the design may be undermined, but, as a rule, the staff is able to reach a compromise and improve the situation that is faced by the supply chain (Faint, 2011).
For the organizations to improve performance, in the discussed framework, the members of the design and supply chain teams are to cooperate effectively. Thus, the companies are to consider the way they can cooperate and distinguish the most appropriate interface between them.
First of all, the superior should consider who can champion the supply chain. The person who will be appointed should be knowledgeable regarding the design interface as it will embody it. In this way, this employee will link the operations between two teams and make them visible to both sides.
So that the main bridge of information exchange will be built. The firms should not stop on it, and they are to encourage the cooperation between the workers from the supply chain at different levels. The risk always exists, but utilizing this approach and motivating the staff to interact, it can be greatly reduced.
Usually, the product design process is managed by one team, which proves that it is considered from the one point of view. However, the innovations, which are very significant in the current society due to the rapid changes and development in the industries, require more ideas.
When the teams that have different functions in the supply chain cooperate, they gather all their thoughts and combine them so that the design meets the wide range of requirements and is likely to appeal to the customers. However, the cooperation of the teams presupposes their meetings, which is not usually considered by the company.
That is why, it is important to create some plan of actions on the daily basis, which will presuppose working on the same location. Day-to-day activities should include transferring the information needed to design the products. Needless to say that it is better to do face-to-face.
The staff that is co-located gains an opportunity to communicate more and to gather as often as they need (Brun, Bolton, & Chinneck, 2013). In this way, the teams will have a chance to get the knowledge that will help them to enhance their creative thinking and consider as many advantageous innovations needed to make the design of the product profitable and easy to produce and transfer as possible.
In this perspective, the personnel also plays a huge role, as they are to have T-shaped skills. Of course, they should be mainly focused on the design of new product or model and be innovative, but they should not forget that the item is to be practical.
The design is to meet not only the firm’s expectations. The members of the teams should have enough knowledge at different levels of supply chain. They should know the way the products are created, the material that it used (including its price and quality), the way of transportation, the peculiarities of the targeted market and the customers’ expectations, etc. Only the efficiency in different spheres will allow the teams to create profit for the organization.
Thus, the involvement of supply chain in the product design is advantageous for business, as it streamlines the production, transportation and forecasting procedures, reduces risks and saves finances. Still, it requires some changes in the organization that should be considered by the superior and employees.
Brun, A., Bolton, S., & Chinneck, C. (2013). Benefits of aligning design and supply chain management. International Journal of Engineering, Science and Technology, 5(2), 49-64.
Croxton, K., García-Dastugue, S., Lambert, D., & Rogers, D. (2001). The supply chain management processes. The International Journal of Logistics Management, 12(2), 13-36.
Dumke, D. (2012). Impact of product design changes on supply chain risk. Web.
Faint, R. (2011). Product design and supply chain. Web.
Khan, O., Christopher, M., & Creazza, A. (2012). Aligning product design with the supply chain: a case study. Supply Chain Management, 17(3), 323 – 336.
Mangan, J., Lalwani, C., Butcher, T., & Javadpour, R. (2011). Global logistics and supply chain management. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.
Quesada, H., Gazo, R., & Sanchez, S. (2012). Critical factors affecting supply chain management. Web.
Rota, C., Reynolds, N., & Zanasi, C. (2012).Collaboration and sustainable relationships: their contribution to the life cycle analysis in agri-food supply chains. Web.