Archive for the ‘Best practices’ Category

Lean versus EOQ? What’s best for your organization?

Published February 11th, 2015 by Andrew Dunbar 11 Comments

manufacturing lean versus oeqA colleague and I started our morning off with a coffee and a conversation about integrating EOQ (Economic Order Quantity) into MPS (Master Production Scheduling). In no time at all we were debating between lean versus EOQ. While each approach has its merits, the two concepts present some conflicting advice. Here we go again! It doesn’t matter if you’re a technician working on the shop floor or an executive in the board room, if you’re in the business of manufacturing then this is a conversation you’ve had before. Without the right data it’s a debate that’s impossible to win, but I’m convinced that neither solution is perfect in all cases.

EOQ attempts to optimize lot size by balancing manufacturing cost (Fixed + variable costs) with things like inventory holding costs and capacity utilization. Lean relies on minimization of, among other things, lot sizes, inventory and waiting. Traditional ERP systems take fixed (often part specific) inputs for planning parameters and spits out a plan without any thought as to the efficiency (financial/shop capacity, etc.) of that plan. Master schedulers can manipulate the planning parameters to create lean or EOQ optimized schedules, but how do you decide which way is right for your organization?

Companies often swing back and forth between the two ideologies – often depending on which S&OP seminar an executive recently attended. I’ve seen attempts to transition to lean cripple an organization because they incorrectly applied the principles and go too hard and too fast. Yet, going all the way to EOQ could cause over-investment in inventory and tie up capital that would be better invested in new technologies/process that would allow a company to become more lean.

In my opinion, lean appears to be the better solution in many industries, but transitioning to lean is challenging and the reality is that many companies aren’t close yet. So, how do they make that transition? They can go fast, invest a significant amount of cash into the transition and throw a huge team of industrial engineers at the problem to look at everything from all angles. Alternatively, they can go slow, and use a small team of industrial engineers, but where do they start and can they move quickly enough to stay competitive in a rapidly changing world?

With the right analytics and the ability to compare multiple scenarios, it’s possible to find the happy middle ground in between and make a smooth transition to lean. Imagine a tool that allows supply chain professionals to compare both scenarios and understand the complete impact on their business of each option (globally and specifically), and allows schedulers and planners to make the right decision on a case-by-case basis. This could change the conversations of the S&OP/MPS teams as the data can enable rapid and accurate decisions on how to most effectively invest their resources (based on constraints like capacity, inventory holding costs, availability of supply, availability of cash for inventory investment, etc.).

Imagine a scenario:

  • You’ve got a product line with high run rates and steady demand that screams lean but you’ve still got high fixed costs due to multiple products lines sharing the same manufacturing cell (repetitive tear-down/setup)? Let’s work under EOQ rules until your industrial engineers can come up with a solution that reduces your setup time, changes the planning parameters, and swings the balance back toward lean. Oh, and by the way, here’s a list of parts where your industrial engineers should focus their efforts based on the largest opportunities presented (based on current independent demand data).
  • You want to go lean, but your customer’s demand schedule wreaks havoc on your capacity plan. Here are the most cost effective parts to re-schedule/ group to balance capacity with cost.
  • You’ve ‘gone lean’ but aren’t! How do you correct until your industrial engineers catch up with your executive vision?

What are your thoughts? Have you had this debate before? Have you tried to go lean but haven’t received the benefits you expected from your investment? How are you changing the conversation in your organization to ensure you are investing resources effectively? Please keep the conversation going in the comments below.

 

Posted in Best practices, General News, Lean manufacturing, Products, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain management


In-Memory Computing for Supply Chain Management: What, Where and How…

Published January 28th, 2015 by Lori Smith 0 Comments

In-Memory Computing for Supply Chain Management: What, Where and How…The recently published Gartner report, The Impact of In-Memory Computing on Supply Chain Management (Payne, T., 21 October 2014), describes the potential of in-memory computing (IMC) for supply chain management (SCM) including supply chain planning (SCP) applications, as follows:

“By 2018, at least 50% of global enterprise companies will use IMC to deliver significant additional benefits from investments in SCM, and especially, SCP.”

As awareness of the potential for transformational benefits from IMC grows, companies are asking tough questions about how, where and what type of IMC-enabled supply chain applications they should deploy. This is important because, according to Gartner’s research, the potential “benefits will vary by organization size, functional domain, industry and supply chain maturity.” So while the list of advantages of IMC technology is significant – and includes performance and scalability improvements, facilitation of advanced analytics, and process innovation – like any technology investment, the impact to your specific environment will depend on the chosen solution approach.

Gartner outlines three styles which include:

  • Native IMC: These applications are “developed from inception on the basis of IMC design principles”
  • Retrofitted for IMC: These applications were “originally designed on traditional technologies (for example, RDBMSs), but are now replatformed on top of an in-memory data store”
  • Hybrid IMC: These applications “use IMC design principles and technologies only in part, usually to store (at times, only temporarily) and process the most performance or scalability sensitive application data, or to support real-time analytics”

Interestingly, the Gartner reports states:

“The maximum transformational benefits will come from native IMC, because this approach allows organizations to leverage IMC to drive completely new ways of working in line with the company’s supply chain transformation efforts.”

Kinaxis RapidResponse uses a Native IMC approach. With RapidResponse, the analytics code is directly compiled into the database engine where it has direct access to the data and the various data relationships. The speed and scale that this provides is valuable because it enables businesses to develop new and improved processes capable of delivering breakthrough performance improvements.

If you’re evaluating IMC-enabled supply chain applications to determine how your organization can get the most benefit this Gartner research report is a must-read! It sheds light on the business value that in-memory computing brings to supply chain management in general and provides key findings and recommendations on the potential of IMC across functional domains, industry verticals and solution types. It’s only available for a limited time, so be sure to read it today.

P.S. With a 25+ year history of developing in-memory computing technology, we’ve talked about this topic before, so be sure to also check out some of our other posts:

 Source: Payne, T., The Impact of In-Memory Computing on Supply Chain Management, Gartner, 21 October 2014.

Posted in Best practices, Gartner Supply Chain Managment, General News, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


Supply Chain Professionals Speak on Delivering Better Business Outcomes with Kinaxis

Published November 13th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 1 Comment

I wanted to share this video compilation of several supply chain professionals that we have interviewed over the years. In the following clip these supply chain practitioners share their opinions on:

  • What is the primary change we are seeing in today’s supply chain?
  • What are key supply chain challenges organizations are faced with today?
  • How does Kinaxis compliment and extend ERP investments?
  • How is Kinaxis helping improve supply chain processes and deliver better business outcomes?
  • How is Kinaxis unique in helping solve complex supply chain challenges?

Hear customers from Qualcomm, TriQuint, Flextronics and Jabil speak on how RapidResponse has transformed their supply chain.

Posted in Best practices, Control tower, Demand management, General News, Inventory management, Miscellanea, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


What the Analysts Are Saying About…A&D Supply Chains

Published July 18th, 2014 by Bill DuBois 0 Comments

What the Supply Chain Analysts Are Saying About A and D

Are you looking for some reading material to pass the time on your next flight? Even if you’re not you should check out Supply Chain Insights, Supply Chain Metrics That Matter. For the past several years, Supply Chain Insights has been delivering this research series.  What caught my eye is that for each report, they do a deep dive on a specific industry and use a mix of financial data, survey research results and interactions with their clients to help get a better understanding of various industries’ supply chains.

I spread my Supply Chain wings at an Aerospace company and since Aerospace and Defense is a key vertical market for Kinaxis, the recent Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: A Focus on Aerospace & Defense report was downloaded on my laptop to read on my next flight. The research benchmarks A&D companies against other industries and looks at the top five A&D companies over the last decade. Although it didn’t give any suggestions on what to do when you find yourself in row 32, you know the one next to the washroom, it did discuss the challenges the industry is facing as well as offering up solid recommendations for areas of improvement.

From a challenges perspective, here are the highlights covered in this report.

The obvious challenge is the complexity in the A&D industry. The report uses the Boeing 747-8 International as an example. It has about 6 million components which are manufactured in 30 countries by 550 unique suppliers. Think about those design, sourcing and delivery challenges. I always thought getting through security these days was complex.

With such a heavy reliance on first, second, third, fourth and fifth tier suppliers and in some cases having only one or two suppliers for specific components, it’s easy to see how delays and budget overages can happen. A supply chain based so heavily on external sources is susceptible to more risk than catching a flight on time out of Newark. As Supply Chain Insights mentions, this is having a significant impact on the company’s bottom line.

Interestingly, to help address the issue of ensuring materials are available when needed; the research indicates that A&D companies have “developed some of the most advanced sourcing techniques and practices.” Companies like Lockheed Martin, are looking at new strategies for materials (raw or otherwise) that are harder to source, especially in the cases where increased Supply Chain volatility have thrown a wrench in their “Just In Time” approach. The challenge is balancing reduced material delays with rising inventory levels and longer Days of Inventory.

To help address these challenges, Supply Chain Insights makes a few recommendations that I think are spot on. Suppliers, in particular of materials that are sole sourced, play such a large and important role in the A&D supply chain, it’s vital that there be a focus on supplier collaboration and communication at every level.  A big part of this is increasing visibility into the supply chains to ensure they can anticipate and plan for potential disruptions. Focusing in these areas will help reduce supply chain risk, and make A&D companies better prepared to deal with inevitable disruptions when they do occur.

Thanks to Metrics That Matter, not only did I get some valuable A&D insights but it took my mind off of sitting in row 32 on a delayed flight out of Newark. The report covers a lot more ground than what I’ve discussed here, so feel free to download a full copy of Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: A Focus on Aerospace & Defense report here. (No registration required.)

Posted in Best practices, Demand management, General News, Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


Throwback Thursday: Competing against time. A concept worth re-exploring.

Published July 3rd, 2014 by Lori Smith 0 Comments

As the idea of “Throwback Thursday” grows in popularity, we couldn’t help ourselves but to jump on board!  Despite the temptation, we’ll refrain from posting pictures of women with teased hair and big shoulder pads; men with their bell bottoms; or adorable baby pictures from a time in our lives when we were all cute.  Instead, on this quiet holiday week, we’ll keep it professional and look back on a past blog post that covers a classic concept that remains as relevant as ever. This post certainly does not have to compete against time. Enjoy!

Originally published January 12, 2012 by Trevor Miles (@milesahead)

Every now and then a concept comes along that resonates very strongly with what I perceive to be key issues in operations in general, and supply chain in particular.  One of these is the seminal work by George Stalk of Boston Consulting Group titled Time—The Next Source of Competitive Advantage published in July 1988 in which he states that:

Today, time is on the cutting edge. The ways leading companies manage time – in production, in new product development and introduction, in sales and distribution – represent the most powerful new sources of competitive advantage.

Unfortunately Stalk decided to name the book he co-wrote on the topic as “Competing Against Time” which isn’t the point, although the subheading “How time-based competition is reshaping global markets” rescues the concept, which is really about competing against the competition with time.  It is all about being more agile, more responsive, to real conditions. Stalk sets out some Rules of Response very clearly:

  • The .05 to 5 Rule
    Across a spectrum of businesses, the amount of time required to execute a service or to order, manufacture, and deliver a product is far less than the actual time the service or product spends in the value-delivery system
  • The 3/3 Rule
    During the 95 to 99.95 percent of the time a product or service is not receiving value while in the value-delivery system, the product or service is waiting. (Stalk breaks this out into 3 components of waiting, hence the 3/3.) The amount of time lost is affected very little by working harder. But working smarter has tremendous impact.
  • The 1/4-2-20 Rule
    For every quartering of the time interval required to provide a service or product, the productivity of labor and of working capital can often double. These productivity gains result in as much as a 20 percent reduction in costs.
  • The 3 x 2 Rule
    Companies that cut the time consumption of their value-delivery systems turn the basis of competitive advantage to their favor. Growth rates of three times the industry average with two times the industry profit margins are exciting – and achievable – targets.

All too often though people get the impression that these rules are only applicable in the short term.  They are not.  The issue of responsiveness in operations is driven by the latency of the information and the time it takes to respond. In other words, the time to detect that something of significance has happened and the time to respond to the change, or correct the discrepancy. Reducing either of these will have a dramatic effect on a company’s competitiveness, whether this is a short term detection of demand change that requires rescheduling manufacturing or a longer term change in technology that requires the purchase of new manufacturing capacity.

Terms such as VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity – or PDCA – Plan, Do, Check, Act – don’t excite me because they are focused on removing volatility and complexity, usually promoting ‘stability’ at the cost of responsiveness, whereas Stalk’s concepts are all about being responsive, being agile. To me this is the correct emphasis. While of course there is an overlap in that a decision or manufacturing process that is overly complex will result in longer lead times, it is the overall sentiment of complexity and volatility being ‘bad’ expressed in VUCA and PDCA with which I disagree.  As I wrote in a previous blog from the 2011 Gartner Supply Chain Conference:

I say embrace VUCA. Accept that it is the new norm. Resistance is futile.

Similarly, Deming’s idea of PDCA is all about process improvement, it is about ‘managing’ complexity and ensuring ‘consistent’ processes. Again, I am not saying that these are bad approaches in and of themselves, only that they are insufficient.  Knowing that you are performing a process consistently doesn’t mean that you are performing it well.  It is like assuming that if you throw everyone in jail who has committed a crime that we will live in a crime-free environment.

Far more interesting to me is the OODA – Observe, Orient, Decide, Act – idea from the US military strategist Colonel John Boyd.

The steps of the OODA loop are:

  • Observation: the collection of data by means of the senses
  • Orientation: the analysis and synthesis of data to form one’s current mental perspective
  • Decision: the determination of a course of action based on one’s current mental perspective
  • Action: the physical playing-out of decisions

While at first this may seem to be very similar to VUCA and PDCA, the key point to the OODA loop is that:

 

Time is the dominant parameter. The pilot who goes through the OODA cycle in the shortest time prevails because his opponent is caught responding to situations that have already changed.

 

In other words reduce the time to detect and the time to respond.  To put this into supply chain speak, it is all about:

  • Visibility – having access to the state of the supply chain across a wide span of operations, especially in outsourced environments, in order to detect misalignments
  • Alerting – knowing or calculating the impact of misalignments on key financial and operational metrics in order to understand the severity of the issue
  • “What-If” – working with others in the supply chain to come up with alternatives and evaluating these quickly
  • Collaboration – to reach a consensus on the best course of action that reduces risk while increasing performance

Another absolutely key concept expressed by Boyd is the need for ‘human judgment’, for the system to act as an organic whole to adapt to situations as they unfold at the location at which they unfold.  Having long chains of command that force front line people to get approval from HQ is antithical to this idea:

… large organizations such as corporations, governments, or militaries possessed a hierarchy of OODA loops at tactical, grand-tactical (operational art), and strategic levels. In addition, he stated that most effective organizations have a highly decentralized chain of command that utilizes objective-driven orders, or directive control, rather than method-driven orders in order to harness the mental capacity and creative abilities of individual commanders at each level. In 2003, this power to the edge concept took the form of a DOD publication “Power to the Edge: Command…Control…in the Information Age” by Dr. David S. Alberts and Richard E. Hayes. Boyd argued that such a structure creates a flexible “organic whole” that is quicker to adapt to rapidly changing situations. He noted, however, that any such highly decentralized organization would necessitate a high degree of mutual trust and a common outlook that came from prior shared experiences. Headquarters needs to know that the troops are perfectly capable of forming a good plan for taking a specific objective, and the troops need to know that Headquarters does not direct them to achieve certain objectives without good reason.

These are key concepts we at Kinaxis have been promoting for a long time.  Every second that we waste in making a decision is a minute less that we have available to actually respond to situation.  In sports, reaction time is a well recognized competitive advantage.  Reaction time is coupled with the ability to ‘read the game’ and, for example, to call audibles at the line of scrimmage in American football. (I have always felt more comfortable with ‘European’ sports, such as soccer, that are a lot less structured and orchestrated precisely because the players have a lot more decision making power.) So in the end perhaps Stalk’s title “Competing Against Time” was correct, but this is a process efficiency perspective.  I still prefer the OODA concept of competing with time because this is about process effectiveness.

Posted in Best practices, Miscellanea, Supply chain management, Supply chain risk management


And the most important personality trait for someone in supply chain professional services is…

Published July 2nd, 2014 by Lori Smith 0 Comments

Today we announced the appointment of our new vice president of professional services, David Kelly.  Welcome aboard David!

With the formalities of the press release out of the way, we thought we would introduce David in a more fun and casual way.  So enjoy our Q&A post as we put David on the hot seat and get to know better the newest addition to the Kinaxis management team.

 

A QUICK TAKE ON PROFESSIONAL SERVICES

Name your top 3 implementation success factors?

  • Leadership, strong team and an effective and reasonable plan. All successful projects require strong leadership to lead and mentor the team through the difficult and challenging issues that will come up. That team needs to be made up of members that take ownership and responsibility for their role and actions during the project. And most importantly, a sound plan that is based on reality and reasonable time frames is key to allowing the team to be successful and the leader to lead.

In the goal of driving high user adoption, what are the essential  “must-dos”?

  • Organizations need to drive effective user adoption, which is almost always tied to change management. When new processes are put in place that are wrapped around the use of new technology, we need to work with our clients to define an effective program that will allow users to seamlessly adopt the new process. As a team, we need to bring prescriptive approaches that our clients can tailor for their specific situation. This effectively leads to happy users, which makes happy customers.

In your experience, what element of a deployment tends to be the hardest to manage?

  • Very few projects don’t have changes in requirements along the way. These requirement changes come up for various reasons and many times can be very valid. But, the project team needs to be able to address these changes while still keeping to the original plan, and many times we need to push the new requirements out to a future phase. These can be difficult conversations to have and requires effective project management from the outset. At the end of the day, customers almost always appreciate a project team that holds them accountable and manages towards an originally agreed upon time line.

What is the most important personality trait or competency for someone in professional services (and applicable to supply chain professional services in particular)?

  • I feel that individuals need to be effective listeners who can clearly and articulately document what they have heard. This process makes the foundation for defining the project requirements and drives the clarity necessary to lock down the business and technical requirements. All too often, we end up in conversations with clients about “what was said” and that leads to issues down the road. If we can effectively listen to our clients and document what was said, we greatly eliminate any confusion.

 

COMING INTO KINAXIS

What is one lesson learned or take-away from your previous roles that you will bring to Kinaxis?

  • Problem solving is the responsibility of every individual, and every individual should feel empowered to solve problems. Every day we will encounter challenges and the most efficient way for the team to progress forward is if individuals can clearly define the problem ahead of them and define the best path forward. Empowered team members lead to greater efficiency and happier employees.

Has anything surprised you about Kinaxis so far?

  • The culture and talent of the individuals that work here. Everybody I have met is very excited about Kinaxis and the future, and this has created a fantastic culture as a result.

Supply chain is being called everything from “the leader of the next decade” to “sexy”. As someone coming into the field, are you buying it?

  • Supply chain clearly is a backbone to many industries and can drive greater sales and profits. As our customers rely greatly upon their supply chain and suppliers, having that visibility into supply chain challenges and the right tools to manage is key to success. So, yes, I do believe that supply chain is “sexy”!

 

A PERSONAL GLIMPSE

Where did you grow up?

  • I lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C. until I was 16 when my family moved to the suburbs of Detroit. I finished high school and went to college in Detroit and really consider myself a mid-westerner.

Favorite book?

  • Unbroken is one of my favorite books, it teaches us to never give up and always look for the positives in life.

Favorite motivational quote?

  • I love quotes and years ago bought the “Forbes Business Book of Quotations”. One of my favorites is “In this country, every man is the architect of his own ambitions” — Horton Bain.

Best advice you ever received?

  • Set 5-year goals that are manageable and attainable.

Posted in Best practices, Miscellanea, Supply chain management


7 Life Sciences Supply Chain Processes That Require an Integrated Approach

Published April 7th, 2014 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

The emerging or intensifying industry dynamics that I discussed in an earlier blog post, along with significant shifts in strategy, are having a direct and material impact on the way Life Sciences supply chains must operate. The compounded effect of a host of complexity drivers is creating the need for supply chain transformation. By satisfying the following seven supply chain processes in an integrated manner, Life Sciences teams will be better equipped for success in today’s new, complex world.

  1. Collaborative launch management – clinical, regulatory and commercial
  2. Jurisdictional control to respect regulatory needs during planning
  3. Consensus demand planning across affiliates and countries
  4. Risk evaluation and recovery to deal with shortages and FDA shutdowns
  5. Shortage analysis and reporting for FDASIA compliance
  6. Supply and capacity planning to balance demand across regions
  7. Expiry management to balance long supply lead times and shifting demand

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail.

Coordinated Launches

The effective launch of a new product is critically important in any industry, but it is of particular importance in the Life Sciences industry given the long time it takes to bring a new drug to market from discovery through clinical trials and commercialization, with regulatory oversight and conformance throughout the process. When the ‘long tail’ trend is coupled with shorter patent protection, the margin and market captured during the early launch period will be crucial to the recovery of the R&D investment, and thus the pressure to streamline and coordinate clinical trials and the regulatory process with the commercial launch has become intense.

Revenue Trends throughout the Product Life Cycle

phamacutical supply chain graph

Jurisdictional Control

In addition, mandates by regulatory bodies require jurisdictional control of demand satisfaction to account for third country sourcing, validation, and shelf life requirements, amongst others. This requires sophisticated attribute based planning to link demand characteristics to supply characteristics while simultaneously analyzing and reducing expiry risk, especially when inventory postponement strategies are used.

Consensus Demand Planning

For tax, legal, and regulatory reasons, many Life Sciences companies establish semi-independent sales affiliates or subsidiaries in some jurisdictions or sell through third parties. Creating a consensus demand plan across all the affiliates and subsidiaries is not a trivial task. Often, each demand region will forecast in different units (doses, standard packs, grams of API, etc.); almost always in different currencies; at a different cadence (quarterly, monthly, weekly); and over different time horizons. However, manufacturing needs to create a single forecast using a consistent unit of measure so that they can net the demand against available supply and determine future manufacturing capacity needs. To make matters worse, the affiliates are often less than fully transparent about their on-hand inventory.

Risk Evaluation and Recovery (including Shortage Analysis and Reporting)

Current technical architectures do not provide the capabilities needed to address new requirements under FDASIA ̶ reporting obligations for drug shortage issues and more active inspection of production facilities for instance. Information flow is typically limited to EDI exchanges with little or no ability to understand, for example, the impact of an API supply de-commit on future treatment —drug or device— availability in a regulatory region. To do this, Life Sciences companies will require much greater visibility and what-if scenario capabilities to both inspect and affect the global supply chain across Third Party Operators and into the supply base.

Tender Analysis and Management

Many manufacturers lack the required process standardization in manufacturing, inventory and expiry management, and other core business disciplines to make the required trade-offs during tender analysis between demand satisfaction, expiry risk, and constrained capacity utilization, ultimately leading to effective supply and capacity planning to balance demand across regions. Collaboration across the players in the supply chain is often insufficient and inefficient to achieve these tradeoffs. Given the harsh penalties imposed for non-conformance, being able to make the trade-offs to maintain profitability span the life cycle of the tender, not simply the tender acquisition phase.

Expiry Management

Streamlining manufacturing and distribution processes in order to satisfy demand while reducing unit cost is therefore becoming increasingly important in order to maintain profitability, reduce inventories and enhancing competitiveness within the industry. This is especially true given the long manufacturing lead times, often as long as 12-18 months in bio-pharmaceuticals, which lead to the need for expiry risk and stop sell analysis capabilities to balance effective demand satisfaction with efficient capacity utilization.

A New Technology Paradigm for a New World

phamacutical supply chain graph #5Legacy demand planning and supply chain planning systems were not designed for today’s complexities, and consequently don’t meet the many challenges that have emerged. As a result, Life Sciences companies are adopting process improvements and new technologies targeted at removing business “silos,” improving collaboration, and increasing productivity.

For a true breakthrough, you need an integrated solution. People must be able to leverage a single system with one set of data, supported by comprehensive analysis and decision-making capabilities, no matter what the process or the problem.

To keep a finger on the pulse of the supply chain, today’s solutions must:

  • Embrace the reality that today’s supply chains are multi-enterprise in nature and, thus, must provide comprehensive visibility into the extended supply chain to regain an understanding of the manufacturing commitments and inventory positions throughout the supply network. Visibility is an essential pre-requisite for effective orchestration of the business.
  • Proactively bring to light major variances to plan, identifying not only specific events, but also identifying and quantifying the consequences to customer service, revenue, margin, and a number of other financial and operations metrics, and thereby flagging those that could do most harm to the business.
  • Arm decision-makers with scenario simulation capabilities for risk trade-off and response, to model and compare situations quickly and appropriately to ensure a profitable response is put into action. And it must facilitate and incorporate human judgment, since many of the decision requirements are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to capture in a mathematical model — the foundation of an optimization system.
  • Foster collaboration for team-based decisions that tap the collective insight of the right people in the organization — those that understand the potential impact of any event and proposed action alternatives.

 

Posted in Best practices, Demand management, Milesahead, Pharma and life sciences supply chain management, Supply chain management


Supply Chain Leadership Series: High Tech executive focused on global external manufacturing

Published April 3rd, 2014 by CJ Wehlage 0 Comments

I am starting a blog series called “Supply Chain Leadership”, where I hope to pose thought provoking, and forward looking questions to executives in my supply chain network.  Posted monthly, this series will provide insights into the most pressing challenges, innovative items in their budgets, and how these executives have handled talent, complexity, end-to-end S&OP, and technology.

First up is a high tech executive in the enterprise storage industry. He is leading the global external manufacturing group and based in Ireland. His deep experience in working with the complexity of outsourced manufacturing, to me, is the most extensive I have known.

1.       As we enter 2014, how would you describe the most pressing supply chain challenges?

Supply Chain challenges are coming at us from multiple fronts. The ones we know about are increases in regulations, e.g. BIS, and finding the right balance between cost and the ability to service our customers in the most efficient way from an availability and lead-time standpoint. The biggest challenge, however, is being prepared for the next major Supply Chain disruption. Over the past 3 years we have had many natural disasters including ash clouds, earthquakes, flooding & hurricanes. While these events have had a really terrible impact on people lives within the region where they have occurred, they have also had a significant impact on the supply of materials to many locations world-wide. From a Supply Chain standpoint, our challenge is to prepare as robust a supply chain as possible to deal with other natural disasters that will certainly happen in the future, but we just don’t know where or when.

 

And the data supports his concern:

  • Japan Quake/Tsunami – $210B cost
  • Thailand Floods – $30B cost
  • Volcano Ash Clouds – $5B impact to global GDP

 

Global Billion-Dollar Economic Loss Events by Region

2.       Looking back at the past few years, what parts of supply chain have improved and what have you seen as the contributing factors for that improvement?

Rather than specific processes, applications or techniques, I believe the biggest improvement over the past couple of years is the general acceptance that manufacturing in, or sourcing material from, the lowest cost region is not always the right option. Many manufacturing companies, particularly in the high-tech sector, are focusing on the concept of “Right-Shoring”, which is basically optimizing multiple locations to take advantage of total cost, time to market and other factors such as consumer’s pride in “Made in x” or concerns about worker’s conditions is certain regions.

This general acceptance or mind shift change has encouraged and facilitated a different type of thinking that has driven improvements in many supply chain related areas.

 

3.       In the creation or support of your Budget Plan, what are the new items you see for this year and beyond, things that haven’t been on prior year Budgets, or things that have seen the greatest increase in priority?

One item that is chewing up a larger portion of tightening budgets is the cost associated with complying with importation regulation is many countries. As supply chain professionals, we have an obligation to ensure that our products do not present any risk to humans or the environment. However, over the past few years more and more countries have implemented unique requirements that are costing a lot of money and increased difficulties in the supply chain.

I am not really seeing enough effort to eliminate these unique requirements and move to a global standard. This needs to be a priority for our industry over the next couple of years.  

 

4.       The End-to-End supply chain strategy has been well documented. What capabilities does your company have that is better in class for integrating end-to-end?

A global footprint of fulfillment sources, both our own factories and CM facilities, which allows us to vertically integrate at the most competitive, cost to best service our customers. Selecting the most suitable partners who are as interested in growing a sustainable business as we are, has been one of the most important elements of our end-to-end supply chain strategy. Our supply chain partners provide us the world class service. They totally understand the direction that our business is going and what our future needs will be, sometimes before we do ourselves.

 

5.       How aligned and connected are you to the many supply chain nodes?  What are the reasons you would want to improve this alignment?

I believe we are very aligned and connected with our supply chain nodes. We are also very much aware of alternative supply chain nodes and how quickly we could turn them on if we needed to. Partnering with some of the world’s leading supply chain experts is an integral part of our supply chain strategy. However, we always need to keep improving this alignment. The world is changing at a faster pace than ever before and we need to stay at the leading edge. Technology is improving and the use of near real-time data can provide tremendous benefits. We must embrace these changes and continue to drive further alignment to reap the benefits.

 

I find his answers fascinating.  Would you agree?

When talking about outsourcing, he calls out the real challenge… global decisions.  Connecting trading partner data is a given. What you do with that data – Decision Making – is the heart of successful external manufacturing. When a disruption occurs, whether it’s a supply shortage or a natural disaster, the ability to structure the decisions is critical.  And what makes a decision? = policies.

Visibility into data gives you just a number. The difficult part is determining what that number means. What is needed is visibility into policy, because you can now determine the relevance of what’s impacted, and the insight as to what to do about it.

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Posted in Best practices, Demand management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP)