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There many advanced techniques for streamlining supply chain efficiency, even tech tools that allow you to track every item in your supply chain from extraction to warehouse. However, a focus on products and ‘on the floor’ processes often means that simple, cost-effective improvements to daily work systems are overlooked.

One of these overlooked areas is internal communication – particularly around the supply chain. Here are three effective internal communication strategies for supply chain efficiency:

Think global

EEF research shows that the average UK manufacturer has almost 190 suppliers and virtually all have some of their supply base located overseas.

Given the global nature of many of today’s supply chains, understanding cultural differences can be key. Every nation has different practices and ways of behaviour - if we want a successful, well-oiled supply chain we need to tailor our systems and process to suit who we are doing business with.

Similarly, there can be various time zones involved. Take these into account when setting up real-time communications, such as teleconference calls. Also, be realistic about response times to emails.


Train for compliance & CSR

Considering global ramifications is particularly important given the new Modern Slavery Act. The Modern Slavery Act 2015 introduces a new area of compliance for commercial organisations. Section 54 of the Act and its accompanying regulations provide that commercial organisations supplying goods or services, who undertake business in the UK and have a world-wide turnover of £36 million or above, will have to publish an annual statement setting out what they are doing to ensure that there is no ‘modern slavery’ within their own organisation or in their supply chains.

Ensure your employees and supply chain are fully versed in your company’s commitment to abiding by the new regulations. Staff should be trained (perhaps through bringing an expert onto your site for a half-day workshop) to help them understand what they should be looking for and how to escalate potential issues so they are addressed quickly and effectively.

Complying with this type of legislation is just one part of developing a strong reputation for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Ensuring your employees understand your CSR initiatives and how supply chain decisions fit in can be accomplished through strong communication of CSR policies.


Map it out

Finally, make sure you and everyone involved in the supply chain has a clear understanding of the entire process – the countries, locations, companies, process times, lead times, logistics, paperwork requirements and customs procedures.

It pays to create a process map of the entire supply chain and publish to all involved. This will aid greater understanding, highlight areas of concern and possible improvements that could be made.


Find out how EEF’s Lean and productivity consultants can help you improve processes, increase efficiency and build skills across your supply chain to deliver results and increase productivity.

Blog / Business performance / Manufacturing supply chains