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The occurrence of bottlenecks in a supply chain process is something that affects the performance of every organization. Bottlenecks are potential obstacles known to affect the integrity of a supply chain system. Some of the major infrastructure bottlenecks affecting logistic systems include social factors, people, management processes, physical infrastructures, technologies, processes, environmental forces, and policies.
Whenever such bottlenecks occur, companies should manage their employees in a professional manner in order to streamline their business processes. This research paper, therefore, gives a detailed analysis of the major bottlenecks affecting different supply chain processes. The paper also offers meaningful ideas and approaches that can be used to support the supply chain processes and logistical operations in many organizations.
Agrawal and Choudhary (2014) define “reverse logistics as the movement of finished products or services from their final destinations to the company for the purpose of disposal or capturing value” (p. 15). This measure is undertaken in order to transform the situation and support the needs of the targeted customers. The presence of numerous after-sale supply chain issues should be considered carefully in every organization (Olorunniwo & Li, 2011).
- The importance of reverse logistics to the competition: Businesses should eliminate bottlenecks in order to achieve cost reduction and efficiency in the management of every supply chain.
- Additional challenges: whenever one challenge is eliminated, new problems tend to emerge. Such problems might not mirror the old ones.
- Introduction of constraints: This concept refers to a business’s ability to utilize resources so that it can add value to its supply chain system.
- Key focus: This research paper focuses on various social-bottlenecks that affect manufacturing. Methods that can be used as solutions are also presented. The paper also argues that business corporations should utilize their resources valuably and effectively in order to add value to their systems.
- Thesis Statement: A proper knowledge of the gaps and infrastructural bottlenecks affecting the reverse logistics process results in effective business practices that can become potential solutions and eventually increase the level of competitiveness.
Background Literature Review
Different theories of management outline the best practices that can add value to a business. The managerial process should consider the best approaches and strategies that can improve the level of performance. Proper leadership presents new approaches such as empowerment, motivation, collaboration, encouragement, and employee support (Savitskie, 2007). A motivated worker will also be a resourceful asset thus promoting the best outcomes. Management theorists support the use of positive leadership approaches in order to ensure every business function produces the best results.
As well, business theorists believe strongly that diverse problems will always be encountered in different organizations. The best thing for organizations is to be aware of the best approaches to delivering desirable results (Naslund & Williamson, 2010). Effective management is a critical field that should support every aspect of the targeted supply chain. This move should be taken seriously if a firm is to realize its business potentials. Return management (RM) has become a meaningful concept that coordinates various practices associated with reverse logistics. This subfield of supply chain network is “founded on the argument that some products will be returned to the manufacturer for disposal, refurbishing, or remanufacturing” (Naslund & Williamson, 2010, p. 18).
Business theorists believe that various supply chain bottlenecks can be avoided through the continued use of effective managerial practices (Savitskie, 2007). The skills and employees’ competencies embraced within an organization determine the effectiveness of every business process. Disorientation and lack of motivation are some of the major malpractices known to have a bad impact on the effectiveness of a supply chain process. Khor and Udin (2012) argue that “poor business practices result in inappropriate or inferior products that must go through the reverse supply chain” (p. 7). The presence of infrastructural bottlenecks within the reverse supply chain is a crucial factor causing delays. Such bottlenecks also minimize the profits of the targeted company.
According to Hou et al. (2015), inappropriate employee management practices have remained a major concern in many business organizations. Such malpractices have been observed to present a major social infrastructure bottleneck. Individuals involved throughout the supply chain process should possess desirable competencies and skills in order to produce notable results. Khor and Udin (2012) observed that the use of various empowerment strategies was critical when delivering desirable results. Companies that fail to use appropriate managerial practices and human resource (HR) strategies have higher chances of facing negative outcomes (Savitskie, 2007).
Employees in a supply chain process should possess appropriate managerial competencies, that will eventually promote the best logistical operations. The employees also must possess diverse skills and knowledge (Naslund & Williamson, 2010). In order to achieve a goal, the supply chain manager (SCM) should be able to balance these differences and mentor the workers using his or her aptitudes. Successful logistical operations, therefore, depend on the professionalism and efforts of the SCM.
According to Naslund and Williamson (2010), various infrastructural bottlenecks will inevitably affect the reverse logistics system. For instance, climatic changes and rains can destroy different infrastructural resources thus affecting the integrity of the logistical process. Inadequate investment in the infrastructural aspects of the supply chain would make it impossible for many organizations to realize their potential. Poor maintenance and failure to provide adequate resources will negatively affect the targeted goals. These bottlenecks have been observed to affect the reverse logistics pursued by many companies and cause great losses. For instance, companies involved in global logistics “incur expenses of around 40 billion US dollars every year” (Agrawal & Choudhary, 2014, p. 16).
The nature of the resources used to support the supply chain process determines its effectiveness. For instance, labor unavailability remains a major supply chain bottleneck that affects the performance of many supply chain networks (Savitskie, 2007). Some companies create artificial barriers thus dictating the performance of the supply chain process. For instance, a company might fail to coordinate the major processes thus affecting the targeted results.
Technological failure might occur thus affecting the level of information exchange. Communication breakdown becomes a major bottleneck because it can result in delayed shipments (Olorunniwo & Li, 2011). Many experts argue that the continued use of proper leadership processes encourages more employees to promote the best logistical practices (Bozon, Spricigo, Rodriguez, de Queiroz, & Miguel, 2015). The approach will resolve various problems and cease, or at least reduce, technological breakdowns that can bring an adverse impact on the reverse logistics process.
This study focused on the major social infrastructure bottlenecks that make it impossible for many corporations to have successful supply chain processes (Naslund & Williamson, 2010). The research study targeted various articles, reports, and books in order to analyze the issues associated with supply chain management and reverse logistics.
a. Some factors such as illnesses, training challenges, and motivation affect the supply chain (Bouzon et al., 2015).
The completed research study observed that various barriers affect the performance of many companies, which mainly focuses on the success of their supply chain processes and logistical operations (Olorunniwo & Li, 2011). This focus is significant for it ensures every final product is delivered to the targeted consumers in a timely manner. Savitskie (2007) indicates that a firm with a proper supply chain system has higher chances of achieving its goals and gaining a competitive edge. For example, The Coca-Cola Company has always been embracing the best practices in order to attain its logistical objectives (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). Within the past four decades, the company attracted more customers through the proper use of its supply chain system (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014).
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Poor management of workers throughout the supply chain process is something that could ruin every possibility to accomplish a targeted objective (Naslund & Williamson, 2010). Differences in experience, personality, background, and professional qualifications of employees can influence the effectiveness of various supply chain practices. Supply Chain Managers (SCMs) should use their competencies wisely in order to obtain positive results.
b. The primary concern should revolve around the ability of businesses to manage people in order to deliver quality goods to the consumer (Bouzon et al., 2015).
Every management process should consider the uniqueness of the targeted employees (Agrawal & Choudhary, 2014). The strengths and weaknesses of the employees should be used to reduce conflicts and promote the best organizational practices. Proper management of human resources (HR) throughout the reverse logistics process is invaluable when improving the level of performance. A company that engages in poor management of its workers will end up bearing with unsustainable supply chain practices (Savitskie, 2007). This bottleneck has been observed to affect the brand image of many companies across the globe. This weakness also reduces the competitiveness of many organizations.
Various training challenges affect the performance and views of the targeted workers. The workers cannot manage to get the required resources, ideas, and skills thus failing to ensure the success of the supply chain process. Managers who are not able to motivate their employees involuntarily make room for new misbehaviors. This malpractice eventually results in poor coordination (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). Consequently, new challenges such as communication breakdowns and constrained relationships emerge.
The study also identified disaster preparedness and response as a powerful concept towards dealing with various infrastructural problems. Such problems include weather changes, unforeseeable events, and natural disasters. The ultimate goal should be to ensure the supply chains and reverse logistics processes are executed in a timely and effective manner. Companies embracing the power of disaster preparedness avail the right resources and finances in order to deal with every possible infrastructural problem (Savitskie, 2007). This strategy has the potential to increase the competitiveness of a particular company.
Organizations that take on the use of positive returns management (RM) strategies will improve their ability to compete. The first approach is to be aware of the major infrastructure bottlenecks that lead to the production of substandard products. The targeted organization will use this knowledge to introduce better HR practices such as decision-making, motivation, and provision of the most appropriate resources (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). The organizational process will also focus on the best ideas such as employee empowerment and collaboration. The best actions will be undertaken in order to add value to every targeted consumer.
Consumer retention is one of the most relevant issues of business practice (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). Firms that want to realize their potentials should constantly address the changing expectations and needs of their target audiences. The products delivered to the consumers should be of the highest quality and capable of addressing their unique needs (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). The same idea should be echoed throughout the entire reverse logistics process. It means that the products being returned to the company should be refurbished or remanufactured within the shortest time possible. The individuals involved in the reverse chain process should be provided with the best skills and equipment (Hou et al., 2015). The contented consumer will always support the targeted business.
Businesses can improve their internal processes through the use of integration (Hou et al., 2015). Employees should be motivated in order to promote the best practices in the manufacturing process. The use of these approaches will incomparably improve the competitiveness of the company. This study has also supported the importance of combining marketing approaches with logistics (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). Continued integration will ensure the external factors affecting the supply chain process are addressed.
Business organizations should, therefore, use different functions in order to meet their potentials fully. Theories of management support the power of leadership because it has the ability to mentor employees and eventually deliver considerable results. The supply chain is one of the core functions of an organization. This process supports the marketing of the product thus delivering value to the targeted consumer. A satisfied consumer will always purchase his or her favorite products from the targeted company – the notion of brand loyalty is based on this fact (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014).
Business organizations promoting the best supply chain processes realize their goals within the shortest time possible (Savitskie, 2007). As well, successful companies have a tendency of promoting the best strategies in order to eliminate the major bottlenecks affecting their supply chain networks. Under the control of effective management teams, companies can deliver quality products to their customers and improve their brand reputation at the same time.
a. Social infrastructure bottlenecks focus on the ability of management to employ qualified employees in order to support the manufacturing process and supply chain.
Social infrastructure bottlenecks arise from various human aspects fostering the effectiveness of the supply chain process. The workers within an organization should wield the necessary skills in order to promote the best outcomes (Olorunniwo & Li, 2011). Employees might encounter diverse issues negatively impacting their level of performance. This study has indicated companies that embrace the best business processes will find it easier to achieve their potentials (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014). The first trick is to be aware of the major infrastructure bottlenecks entailing flaws in the integrity of the supply chain process (Hou et al., 2015). Disaster preparedness and response structures will ensure the supply chain remains intake in case of some undesirable situation.
b. The experience of each worker should also be taken into account since it influences every aspect of the supply chain process.
Business organizations should use the implications of the existing bottlenecks. This approach will present new practices such as effective management. The management team should also hire qualified workers who have desirable skills in supply chain management. Managers should be aware of the experiences and competencies of these workers. The important objective is to ensure every person is capable of supporting the productivity and success of the logistical system (Bouzon et al., 2015).
c. Some factors such as diseases, illnesses, vacancies, inadequate training, and hiring should be addressed in order to increase the level of competitiveness.
Managers should be ready to deal with various challenges such as communication breakdown and lack of motivation (Hou et al., 2015). In summary, organizations should be aware of every infrastructural bottleneck capable of affecting the RM process. Such bottlenecks can be reversed using appropriate business practices in order to deliver remarkable results. Such strategies can produce new solutions, support the needs of more clients, and eventually increase the level of competitiveness of a certain company (Piotrowicz & Cuthbertson, 2014).
Future Research Recommendations
This research has outlined the major infrastructure bottlenecks able to influence both the reverse logistics and the supply chain process. The study presented new practices and initiatives that can be used to improve the supply chain process. The research also emphasized the benefits of effective returns management. However, the findings did not present conclusive ideas that can be replicated by companies to streamline their reverse logistics processes.
That being the case, future researches should use specific case studies to explain how companies can benefit from effective supply chain management (Naslund & Williamson, 2010). Future scholars should also consider the implications of proper leadership and managerial theories towards reshaping the effectiveness of every supply chain network. They can examine as well how proper marketing practices support different supply chain practices. These approaches will present powerful ideas that can improve the performance of many firms across the globe.
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