Unraveling the Roots of Product Damage in the Supply Chain: A Comprehensive Guide

Key Takeaways:  What are the common causes of product damage? Best practices for monitoring product journeys to prevent damage.  Strategies for supply chain continuous improvement. …

Key Takeaways: 

  • What are the common causes of product damage?
  • Best practices for monitoring product journeys to prevent damage. 
  • Strategies for supply chain continuous improvement. 
  • Emerging technology applications for improving the supply chain. 

Product Damage Risk Management

According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Risks Report 2023, global supply chain disruptions resulted in a $1.5 trillion loss in 2023. These disruptions can cause product damage on a grand scale. 

How can businesses avoid product damage? By improving their supply chain management. But of course, this is easier said than done.

The first goal is to identify the root cause of where and how the damage occurs. By implementing the proper strategies and technology, manufacturers can gain significant data insight into where, why, how, and when product damage occurs. 

The supply chain management industry was worth $21.95 billion in 2023, and estimates indicate it will reach $30.91 billion by 2026. Effective supply chain management is essential. It offers manufacturers effective solutions for elevating revenue while significantly reducing waste in business processes. 

Various technologies can positively impact shipping quality and allow manufacturers to adjust before damage occurs. How can you leverage technology to address and prevent product damage? 

Having data from trackers, indicators, and loggers can improve your bottom line by optimizing shipping methods and refining supply chain quality. This guide discusses best practices, strategies, and technology for reducing supply chain damage and improving operational costs.

Identifying Common Causes of Product Damage

Unfortunately, product damage is a part of everyday business operations for different reasons. Preventing product damage is crucial for improving profitability, reducing waste, and avoiding missed deliveries and unsatisfied customers which can harm your reputation and accountability. After all, no one wants to keep using a company that consistently damages products. The cost of damaged goods in the US is typically 60% of reported business losses. 

Physical damage occurs during package handling, shipping, or storage. For example, in one study done in 2019, a sensitive package was shipped with a data recorder/logger. The data included GPS, shock, and temperature information. During the transport process alone, the package sustained up to 40 shock events from 8-36Gs. The package was also dropped repeatedly from a height of 18 inches. The data gathered provided ample reason to change shipping companies or methods and improve the packaging to withstand physical impacts better. 

Along with the risk of physical damage, products can be harmed by the environment. Environmental factors include temperature changes, humidity, light exposure, and air pressure. Products can be damaged when delivery trucks are delayed, rerouted, or have mechanical errors that will result in temperature changes.

Technologies and Practices for Monitoring and Prevention

Need to reduce costs? Try using data loggers, temperature indicators, impact or tilt indicators, condition monitors, and other trackers to fully understand how the product fares during shipping and delivery. Often, even the presence of a tracker will make package handlers more conscious of how they handle packages. Another benefit of using tracker or logging technology is they generate reports. Yes! Users can download data, automatically generate reports, and more. 

Reports can help managers identify trends and areas for improvement in the supply chain. In the same way, data from environmental monitors can track product degradation and determine where and why damage occurred. That information can then help manufacturers evaluate what happened and how to avoid product damage in the future.

Explore the different solutions SpotSee offers, including:

Other technology trends worth noting for improving supply chain risk management include:

  • Robotics
    • Amazon uses Kiva robots to transport inventory pallets to human workers in designated warehouse areas. 
    • Robots do the heavy lifting, and humans unpack and store products. 
    • Eliminates the time wasted by people walking back and forth continuously. 
  • IoT (Internet of Things)
    • IoT are connected devices and sensors that track products moving from shipping containers, warehouse storage, and delivery vehicles. 
    • Sensors and other devices can help manufacturers better manage products that may otherwise be damaged.
    • Reduces the risk of products being lost or stolen. 
  • AI (Artificial Intelligence), ML (Machine Learning)
    • Help automatically track inventory throughout a warehouse with AI. 
    • Use ML to monitor products anywhere. 
    • Improve delivery times and customer satisfaction.
  • Business Analytics
    • When monitoring and tracking, leverage the data you collect and use it for predictive analytics. 
    • Predictive analytics help find areas for cost reduction. 
    • Enable visibility that creates strategic optimization. 

Strategies for Continuous Improvement in Damage Prevention

Implementing a culture of continuous improvement will take some time. However, if you can leverage the tracking and monitoring data, you can find where improvements need to be made. Once less optimized areas are identified, you can directly provide employee training with the chosen improvement. 

Even simple impact or temperature indicators can help you monitor worst-case conditions from shipping to delivery. Consider sending a test delivery across various transportation methods like rail, truck, airplane, or ship. Find out which method and provider takes the best care of your products. Additionally, if you ship a data logger or recorder with it, you can check how the product fared on its journey and what condition it is in at delivery. 

When you can identify the root issues in your supply chain, you can solve them permanently. Technology can help you save money, improve customer satisfaction, and reduce product waste and loss. You’ll also gain insight into the best methods available for shipping your products. If you have issues with packaging, you’ll know and be able to improve it. 

By including data logging and other tracking technology, manufacturers have greater visibility into what happens to the product during delivery. 

By understanding where and when problems occur, businesses can save products by changing shipping and delivery methods or partners. Identifying problems is the first step to correcting them. Use the data you gain to better perform risk management on your product and its supply chain journey. 

Make the most of your supply chain with SpotSee solutions. Contact SpotSee for assistance selecting the best product(s) to meet your unique product and compliance needs. Read more about the SpotSee products available to track and monitor your products.