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Communication: The key to supply chain security

Supply chain communication is important to cyber security.
19 Nov 2013

Being able to track delivery schedules and determining deadlines is essential to successful supply chain management. This can become challenging, however, when companies offshore manufacturing to another country. Too often, a company can put itself at risk of data theft if executives can't determine which parts of the supply chain are vulnerable. Communication is vital to every aspect of manufacturing in Mexico, but never more so when internal departments must work with external suppliers, many of which speak Spanish.

Yet manufacturers shouldn't be discouraged from offshoring the production process to Mexico. With shelter company assistance, manufacturers can receive the goods they need and transport products across the border with few issues. Not partnering with an experienced shelter company can put the company at risk of weak communication within its logistical process, effectively reducing the efficiency of manufacturing in Mexico.

Keeping discussions open
In an interview with Manufacturing.net, Tim Garcia, CEO of supply chain management for Apptricity, said manufacturers should conduct a cyber security assessment of all operational processes, but especially on supply chains. One of the most important risk factors is lacking open communication between company departments. Communication is essential for a smooth logistical process and strong supply chain, as goods can become lost or misplaced if personnel and suppliers aren't constantly talking.

"The chief information officer, chief supply chain or procurement officer and the chief risk officer all need to have tight communication," Garcia said.

According to Garcia, manufacturers should understand what parts of the supply chain are at risk of cyber theft, such as emailing with external suppliers. Communication can be compromised if manufacturers aren't aware of kinks in their supply chain security before expanding to Mexico. All officers must be able to maintain open communication channels without sacrificing cyber security.

Communication is a two-way street, however, and manufacturers need to remember to listen to supplier needs and concerns if they are to successfully keep up with demand. In an article for PNC Bank, John Kerr, purchasing manager for NRG Systems, recommended manufacturing executives capitalize on supplier suggestions to maintain a secure workflow. This can be difficult to accomplish in Mexico if there is a language barrier. Shelter companies can help manufacturers create this relationship by negotiating with suppliers on prices. An experienced shelter company is able to assist manufacturers in making sourcing decisions, yet companies need to ensure they maintain high levels of secure communication when moving forward with supplier relationships.

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