The supply chain that goes into manufacturing and distributing a popular product must be solid and resistant to any problems that may arise, from unexpected natural disasters to the straining effects of demand spikes. Reliability is at a premium, and the increasing complexity of modern logistics can make it difficult for organizations to create a solid pipeline between their products and eager consumers.

Putting together a solid and failsafe-laden supply chain can be accomplished via advanced technology, with digital tools helping businesses bring their ambitious plans to fruition. These efficient methods may be especially helpful for organizations launching new products into the market.

Laying groundwork for a launch
EBN contributor Vishal Patel recently suggested laying the groundwork for the supply chain is an absolutely essential part of introducing a new item on time. When an organization shows weak practices in selecting its partners, the resulting launch may be delayed. Patel indicated picking the lowest-cost supplier is a problematic strategy when introducing a new product, as that bargain-priced supply partner may be forced to compromise on either timeline or quality. A failure on either level would damage a manufacturer's credibility.

Visibility and control are two elements Patel prizes highly in complex product supply chains, and he indicated using advanced procurement technology is a good way to attain these traits. Companies that deal with their supplier networks using too many manual processes may not be able to make accurate and timely assessments of the best possible partners for their product launches. Furthermore, they may not be efficient enough in their dealings with downstream companies. Organizations that aren't easy to work with - or don't pay invoices in a timely manner - may find their relationships with partners compromised.

All of this effort is in the service of products that must have complex functionality. Patel explained the simultaneous expansion of the supply chain and deepening of device features have created a high bar for companies to clear. Furthermore, consumers and regulators are asking pointed questions about where materials and components originate from. Businesses without a fully visible and developed supply chain for their new devices may find unethical practices occurring.

A factory produces goods.Production supply chains should be solid before items launch.
Learning from Apple's moves
One reliable way to master the art of new-release supply chain management is to watch the moves made by experienced, industry-leading companies. When it comes to technology product launches, there's no corporation that draws the same level of attention given to Apple. With its much-publicized refreshes of its iPhone line, Apple is essentially launching a product every year.

This year brings an interesting twist on Apple's annual releases. According to Supply Chain Digital, the latest round of iPhones is being produced on a staggered schedule due to the dual nature of the line. The 2018 version of the device will, per rumors and leaked information, be divided into OLED and LCD screen models. The OLED version will be a premium, more expensive iPhone. Last year, there were delays involving phones with this screen type. Apple has responded by starting final assembly of the OLED model well in advance, in July, while the LCD version is set to be assembled in August.
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