What is a supply chain?

Think about your favorite snack or drink, the car you drive, or the device you’re reading this article on. Now, think about how it got from a factory to you. The answer is through a supply chain.

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A supply chain is a series of activities that move a product from production to consumption. Every company that makes product has a supply chain to help them generate revenue and profit.

The oil industry is a great example of how a supply chain works. First, oil is pumped up from the Earth through an offshore or onshore oil rig. From there, the oil is transported via a pipeline to a refinery where it is treated and converted into a usable form. After that, the oil is transported on tanker trucks to gas stations and other end-users.

The food and drink industry is another great example of how a supply chain works. First, companies have raw materials shipped to factories and production centers. Then, workers combine the raw materials to create the final product. Next, the finished product is loaded onto trucks for distribution to grocery stores and consumers.

Recently, retailers have made large investments in same-day and next-day package delivery to satisfy customer demands and convenience. These companies strategically store inventory in warehouses where it can quickly get to customers when an order is placed.

Like every aspect of our world, technology has and will continue to make supply chains more efficient. For example, investments in automation and robotics will allow 24/7 production and distribution of products. Additionally, the use of drones to get packages to customers will likely increase in the coming years.

The next time you consume or use something, think about the path it took to get to you. You may be surprised at the journey the item took!