Posts by Alexa Cheater

MSD’s journey to remove silos in its end-to-end supply chain

AlexaCheater

End-to-end supply chainEliminating silos from any company’s supply chain planning processes comes with challenges. And those challenges are only amplified the bigger your supply chain is. When you’re a large global pharmaceutical company operating in more than 100 markets across four geographical regions, overcoming operational silos in the end-to-end supply chain  may seem like an insurmountable feat. That’s how MSD ’s supply chain planning story began.

Supply chain planning challenges

Known as Merck & Co., Inc. in the US and Canada, MSD was desperately seeking a way to connect its end-to-end supply chain, which spans four planning hubs, over 80 distribution centers and more than 20 internal and external sites. Setting out on a journey to standardize its enterprise resource planning (ERP) platform meant finding a way to sync its supply chain data and enable access across all those divisions and locations to support better business decisions.

Henrik Frojdh, Supply Chain Planning Lead at MSD, quickly realized the only way to elevate supply chain planning capabilities to support that level of synchronization and at the same time optimize inventory levels, was the adoption of an integrated solution – one that enabled end-to-end supply chain planning, visibility and decision-making.

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Is it time to take your supply chain glocal?

AlexaCheater

supply chain glocalNope, that’s not a typo. I really did mean glocal. In case the term is new to you, glocal, in a supply chain context, is the blending of global integration with local responsiveness. I first heard the term only a few months ago during Zoltan Pekar’s presentation at our annual training and user conference, Kinexions. Pekar, the VP of Roland DG’s Global SCM Division, gave some interesting insights on the changing role of IT in supply chain. You can check out a recap of his presentation in my blog The Changing Role of IT in End-to-End Supply Chain Management or check out his presentation yourself on our YouTube channel.

What really jumped out for me during his session was this idea of glocalization. As defined by the source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, “glocalization is the adaptation of globally marketed products and services to local markets.” And apparently the term has been around since the late 1980s, first appearing in print in the Harvard Business Review.

Global companies have been using glocalization for years when it comes to products and services. Restaurant mega chain McDonald’s is an example easily identified by most. Their regional menus offer things like the Chicken Maharaja Mac in India, the Croque McDo in Belgium and the KiwiBurger in New Zealand. Automotive manufacturers are another great example, although many of the differences between European and North American car models are due to specific regulations, with the most obvious being which side the steering wheel is on and whether the speedometers show miles per hour of kilometers per hour.

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Running on autopilot

AlexaCheater

The growing role of AI in supply chain management

artificial intelligenceRapidly evolving technology and a digitally focused world have opened the door for a new wave of automation to enter the workforce. Robots already stand side-by-side with their human counterparts on many manufacturing floors, adding efficiency, capacity (robots don’t need to sleep!) and dependability. Add in drones and self-driving vehicles and it’s no wonder many are questioning the role of humans going forward.

Supply chains, although automated to a degree, still face challenges brought about by the amount of slow, manual tasks required, and the daily management of a complex web of interdependent parts. The next generation of process efficiency gains and visibility could be on your doorstep with artificial intelligence in supply chain management, if only you’d let the robots automatically open it for you.

History of automation

Mankind and machines have worked in harmony for decades, with some citing Henry Ford’s adoption of the assembly line way back in 1913 as its early beginnings. Fittingly, D.S. Harder, an engineering manager at the Ford Motor Company, officially coined the term ‘automation’ in 1946, using it to describe the increased use of automatic devices and controls in mechanized production lines.

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Building a Bimodal Supply Chain

AlexaCheater

bimodal supply chainInnovate to survive. It’s a common mantra among businesses these days, driven by the digital revolution and all that entails. It’s changing the way the world works, and how we as consumers interact with it. Your supply chain and S&OP process isn’t immune to the impacts.

Keeping up with digitization, big data and the Internet of Things (IoT) requires a supply chain that’s flexible, scalable and adaptable. It requires innovative new processes and approaches to data management. But driving that level of growth can’t be easily achieved if your supply chain is solely focused on efficiency. Doing the same old things won’t yield new results. It’s time to do things differently.

The key is running two modes within your supply chain simultaneously. Mode one focuses on maintaining the status quo and managing day-to-day operations. It seeks to reduce overall cost structure. Mode two is all about breakthrough innovations and what’s needed to break into new markets and launch cutting-edge solutions. It focuses on experimentation and driving revolutionary changes in how supply chains adapt to new risks and opportunities.

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5 supply chain management habits that will land you on the naughty list

AlexaCheater

supply chain management naughty list

It’s that time of year again when Santa’s busy making a list, checking it twice and trying to find out who’s naughty or nice. If you haven’t broken these ineffective supply chain management habits, you’re likely to find nothing but a lump of coal in your stocking come Christmas.

1. Working in silos

When it comes to achieving supply chain success, it can’t just be all about your own results.

That’s unfortunately often the prevalent mentality in siloed organizations. It doesn’t matter what’s happening in the rest of the supply chain, as long as your team is meeting its goals and objectives. Siloed processes, people and functions work toward their own goals in isolation, instead of working towards the health of the overall supply chain. These negatively affect response time, as it can take hours, days or weeks to understand the complete impact of a decision on the entire supply chain. So get out there and collaborate. Your supply chain and your social life will thank you.

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Three Supply Chain Risks that Will Get You Thinking Bimodal

AlexaCheater

Supply Chain RiskIn a world where everything is changing, staying in one place is the fastest way to find yourself falling further behind. The same is true when it comes to your supply chain. Remaining stationary in your processes, relying on inefficient technology, and refusing to keep pace is how successful companies find themselves lagging behind the competition.

It’s not just about who does it better anymore. It’s about doing things differently. That’s when breakthroughs happen. Unfortunately, many companies are still looking at their supply chains with a lens focused solely on efficiency and the bottom line. That strategy alone won’t yield long-term success. There has to be the opportunity for innovation, as well. It’s what drives new products and pushes companies into new markets.

Hence the industry’s latest buzzword – bimodal. Most often credited with coining the term ‘bimodal supply chain’, research firm Gartner describes it as a supply chain made up of two distinct modes. Mode one is about cost-saving measures and efficiency and appeals to a need for predictability, accuracy and reliability. It’s focused on maintaining the status quo and managing day-to-day operations.

Mode two is all about experimentation and driving revolutionary changes in how supply chains adapt to new risks and opportunities.

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6 Supply Chain Lessons from Henry Ford

AlexaCheater

Ford Supply ChainHenry Ford has become synonymous with revolutionary advances in manufacturing. His utilization of the assembly line for his Model T changed not only the way businesses operated, but consumer demand as well. As an early technology adopter and strong proponent of innovation, Ford was more than a manufacturing master. He was a supply chain pioneer. His company delivered on affordability and availability, designing with the customer need in mind. It’s something every business today tries to emulate.

David Thomas, Director, Global Capacity Planning, Ford Motor Company recently resurrected some of the company founder’s most inspiring quotes during his presentation at Kinexions, the Kinaxis annual user and training conference. While he used them to illustrate Ford’s regional and global changes in recent years, I thought I’d put an even bigger supply chain spin on them. Here are the top six things Henry Ford can teach you about your supply chain.

  1. “Businesses that grow by development and improvement do not die.” Stagnant companies (and their associated supply chains) will forever stay stuck in the past. As seen time and time again in the consumer electronics space, companies that innovate and push new ideas and concepts forward are often more successful than their counterparts focused solely on efficiency and maintaining the status quo. Developing a bimodal supply chain, one that allows for efficiency and innovation simultaneously, is the way forward.

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Building a Supply Chain Masterpiece with Concurrent Planning

AlexaCheater

concurrent planningThere’s something to be said about the resiliency of a really good supply chain. One that’s able to quickly respond to those unexpected problems, easily adapt to changing industry conditions and make waves with its innovative, yet still efficient, processes. It’s like a piece of moving artwork – all those intricacies and people working behind the scenes to deliver exactly what the masses of the world want, when and where they want it.

But as a seemingly growing number of companies face very public breakdowns in their supply chains, it’s becoming increasingly clear very few organizations actually have these masterpieces within their midst. Failure to keep pace with consumer demands. Inability to react to unanticipated risks like environmental disasters or political unrest. Breakdown in cross-functional communication. All present supply chain challenges that need to be overcome.

Traditional supply chain processes tend to be linear in nature. Plan, then execute. Plan demand, then plan supply, then plan capacity, then plan inventory, etc. If a potential risk interrupts one of those steps, it’s back to the beginning, starting all over again with a new plan – and that’s assuming they even noticed the problem before execution, which wasn’t always the case… Doesn’t seem like a very efficient model, does it?

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