Archive for the ‘Control tower’ Category

We Are On Our Way to LogiPharma in Princeton, NJ!

Published September 16th, 2013 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

LogiPharma Kinaxis to sponsor present cloud based supply chain solutionWe’re ready for a full conference schedule this fall. And, tomorrow we are headed to Princeton, New Jersey for LogiPharma – held at the Westin Princeton, September 17 – 19, 2013.

On Tuesday morning, the day is started off with an executive panel discussion with our very own Trevor Miles, vice president of thought leadership. This hour long session entitled, “Time to Get off Excel and into the Cloud for Supply Network Planning” starts at 9:00am.

Trevor Miles speaking at LogiPharma about cloud supply chain solution

Session Details

The panel brings together supply chain executives to discuss how Life Science companies are adopting pr

ocess improvements and new technologies targeted at removing business “silos,” improving collaboration, and achieving significant operations performance breakthroughs. The following topics will be covered during this session:

  • FDASIA compliance for drug shortage analysis and reporting
  • Effect of orphan diseases on portfolios
  • Innovation versus discovery cost
  • Trends in outsourcing
  • Emerging business needs in pharmaceutical manufacturing

If you’re headed to the LogiPharma conference we invite you to visit us at Booth #6.

Unable to attend? Follow the hash tag #LogiPharma or @Kinaxis on Twitter to get real-time updates from the event and stay tuned for our event re-cap blog.

Posted in Control tower, Pharma and life sciences supply chain management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

Jake Barr: Supply chain transformations; Going after game changing change

Published August 30th, 2013 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

As mentioned in last Friday’s post, we had the privilege of recording three interviews with Jake Barr. In this video, Supply chain transformations: Going after game changing change, Jake says we are on the verge of making a massive step change in supply chain management.

The last two decades has been about investing in infrastructure to run the day to day transactions of the business. The step change will be one about improving decision making.  And this won’t require infrastructure investment – it’s about leveraging existing information, but having a superior way to mine, package and take action on that information.

In Part 2: Supply chain transformations: Going after game changing change, Jake Barr explores the following questions:

  • Do the advancements in the past few years represent incremental improvements or fundamental shifts in supply chain management strategy?
  • What is an example of a company making a fundamental shift in their supply chain strategy?
  • How can companies move from functional excellence to end-to-end supply chain process enablement and alignment?

Jake, a 32-year employee of the Procter & Gamble Company, directed the Global Supply Network Design efforts for the Company, in addition to being the discipline Director for Supply Network Operations. So, as a former practitioner, he has a lot of insight to share.

… please check it out!

Notable passage:

“We’re talking about the last two decades having been spent by and large across most of the industry, from a consumer products standpoint, of investing in infrastructure to run the transactional mass of just the day-to-day business. So being able to deal with simply the millions and billions of units that need to be produced and ordered and fabricated and shipped and all of that. But the step change is one around decision-making. The step change is actually being driven by the fact that there are new techniques now available that don’t require huge infrastructure projects, that don’t require new translations or ripping out of existing processes, that actually can provide an easy way to lift, integrate, and then translate for decision makings. Information that’s available and has been available for years, but the ability to mine it and package it and take action on it wasn’t possible. So that is a massive leap that will reconfigure the way most companies in this industry will compete. So over the next three to five years, that will be massive. Part of that is the advent of cloud computing. Part of that is the ability to bring data out of these very different infrastructures and actually merge them, coalesce them, and package them for decision-making. None of that was possible in as little as five to seven years ago. So it’s transformational in nature. “Incremental” is playing it down. It’s transformational what’s about to happen.”


Happy Friday 21st Century Supply Chain readers!


p.s. feel free to check out the past clip…

Part 1: An executive’s perspective: The evolution of CPG companies and their supply chains


And stay tuned for…

Part 3: Insights for today’s business leaders


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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

3 Days in Berlin: A supply chain conference that you want to watch over and over

Published July 9th, 2013 by CJ Wehlage 0 Comments

If you read my last blog, “400 Miles in the Desert”, you would have understood how 5 hours of driving in the desert shaped my view of the Gartner Supply Chain conference.   Well, 9.5 hours of flying from Berlin to Frankfurt and then to Boston gave me a ton of time to reflect on the European SCL Summit.

The World Trade Group held its 15th annual European Supply Chain & Logistics Summit this past week in Berlin, Germany.  Having been around the block with supply chain conferences these past 23 years, I must say that this event was one of the best content-wise.  From the keynotes to the breakout sessions, I thoroughly enjoyed the depth of content, the experience of the presenters and the discussions during the question & answer periods.

The event centered around five key themes: Supply Chain Strategies for Growth, Supply Planning, Global Logistics & Distribution, Global Sourcing Transparency & Agility, and Performance Management.   I was honored to speak in the Supply Planning track on “Delivering on the S&OP promise for the 21st Century”.

The memorable standout for me was Barry Gibbons’ presentation.  Barry Gibbons is the former Global CEO of Burger King, and I definitely understand why Fortune magazine gave him the title “Turnaround Champ”.  I came from Apple, where they teach you how to minimize the words on your slides and use pictures and references.  You are taught to understand your audience, look at them and read how they are capturing your message.   There was a “goal” at Apple to have a presentation where there were zero words on the slides.  Well, Barry Gibbons accomplished what I thought was a fantastic presentation.  His title slide went up, and Barry walked across the stage engaging the audience with insightful stories and a captivating message of staying ahead by keeping yourself, your products and your company fresh.  At the end of the hour, Barry had not shown one slide.  The title slide was still there, and the audience wanted another hour.

Barry asked each of the supply chain leaders in the audience to take an exercise back to their companies.   They were to pull their team together and have each of them write one or two words on the back of their business cards that describes what the company stands for.  Then, collect the cards and see how many words match.

Barry was making the point that companies need to understand the fundamental questions of: ‘Where do our customers see us going forward? What do we stand for? What are the principles guiding our business?’  This is what he believes will separate the winners from the losers in the coming years.  I loved it when he described this time as the “Age of Alienation”.  With where the world is today: social and political unrest, high consumer and government debt and complex globalization, we have become alienated from the customer.

I agree 100% with what Barry stated.  From a high-tech perspective, online consumers are so integrated that “consume” has become a “node” in the traditional plan/buy/make/deliver model.  Online customers are changing the structure of supply chain planning, inventory models, network designs and overall KPI’s such as pricing, cost to serve and segmented profitability.  I plan to blog more about this concept going forward and provide a high level value proposition on this shift below.  Suffice it to say, Barry Gibbons is hitting directly on how companies and supply chains need to connect with the customer in a whole new way.

“3 Days in Berlin: A supply chain conference that you’ll want to watch over and over”

I also loved Barry’s humor in sharing stories about taking a “commodity” and making it different — so different, that what was once a common service becomes memorable for a lifetime.  Barry talked about the airline industry, and after years of flying, he became numb to the preflight speech.  We’ve all heard it, and most of us, like Barry, tune it out and go about reading emails, texting or listening to iTunes.  But on a Southwest flight, Barry’s head looked up.  The Southwest flight attendant was singing the preflight announcement.  This person took what had become a commodity, and made it a memorable service.  That’s how we need to view our business and understand how the customer sees us as memorable.

There were two other sessions I would highly recommend watching the recording on the WTG site when they become available next week:  “How we can improve the competitiveness and future resilience of European supply chains” and “Inside the strength of Lenovo’s supply chain: Building resiliency and risk management strategies into your network design”.

During the “Future resilience of the European supply chain” session, the panel included Edwin van der Meerendonk, VP European Operations for Walt Disney; Ivanka Janssen, Supply Chain Director for Diageo; Julie Maes, Director Supply Chain Support for Volvo Powertrain and Marcel Mourits, Supply Chain Optimization Lead for AIMMS. They shared insights on European supply chain talent and unique challenges.  Then, they spoke about methods to improve collaboration for both short term & long term stability.

The Lenovo session was eye opening for understanding the impact of supply chain disruption.   Mick Jones, Vice President Global Logistics Worldwide at Lenovo shared how their supply chain managed the impact of the Japanese earthquake & tsunami.  The Lenovo team is not only going after a robust risk management plan, but also considering the speed of response and the profitability of the ‘return-to-normal’ state.   Now, coming from Kinaxis, I was especially interested in Mick’s use of end-to-end supply chain visibility to manage risks.

All this brings me to my closing thought …my presentation, “Delivering on the S&OP promise for the 21st CenturyCertainly I’d love to have you watch the entire replay of my speech.  As an ex practitioner, I know you have limited time, so take a view of the first 5 minutes (which will be available on the WTG site shortly). In it, I share a story about my old CEO, who provided a memorable piece of advice.  I asked if he had any guidance for me as a new employee.  And, Steve Jobs told me this…..

“Know what you know, and know what you don’t know….and surround yourself with people who know what you don’t know…”

I challenge people to consider what you truly know in supply chain.  When you are doing demand and supply balancing, how far back in the network do you know the impact? When you are consolidating demand plans, how much do you know about the segmented customer demand?  When you are publishing the margin plans, how much do you know of the tradeoffs across business units?   Mick Jones is right when he says “visibility” is critical.  Do you have visibility, real time, to all the nodes of your network?  The expert panel was dead-on when they said “collaboration” is required to make it through this difficult time.  You may collaborate, but how well do you know the margin and profit impact to all your partners when you make a change?  And, finally, Barry Gibbons asked the audience “what do we stand for?” Our customers want to know.

Take his challenge, and ask every partner in your supply network to write down what they believe this supply chain network stands for.  You would be amazed at the varying responses.  If you write down profitability, your contract manufacturer writes down cost avoidance, and your retailer writes down inventory reduction, you better get to “KNOW” your supply chain…..

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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Inventory management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

What ails the pharmaceutical supply chain?

Published July 8th, 2013 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

It is always dangerous to draw too many parallels between companies, and yet benchmarking is one of the most effective ways of expressing comparative performance. The Gartner Supply Chain Top 25, which was started by AMR nearly 10 years ago, is an annual ritual that draws a great deal of attention. The Garter Supply Chain Top 25 also draws some criticism because it tries to compare companies across industries.  Nevertheless there are a few supply chain insights we can draw from the list in general and for the pharmaceutical supply chain manufacturers in particular.

gartner supply chain top 25 2013

The list tries to balance aspects of product innovation through revenue growth, efficient use of capital through return on assets (ROA), and efficient supply chain practices through inventory turns, balancing the various aspects of Operations that will lead to long term profitability and market performance. It is important to note that only one pharmaceutical manufacturer is on this list, namely J&J, at number 25. Gartner also publishes a Healthcare Supply Chain Top 25, but even this list compares manufacturers, distributors, and providers, each of which have very different supply chain characteristics, making an apples-to-apples comparison difficult.  Even within the manufacturers the list does not distinguish between small molecule and biological manufacturers, which have very different supply chain characteristics. So I set out to look at just the small molecule manufacturers with the greatest revenue, which are based in the US or Europe.

It is not a pretty picture. Perhaps what surprised me most was the inconsistent performance over the past 10-15 years across the metrics used by Gartner to evaluate performance. We all know Wall Street rewards consistent, and positive, performance. Potentially, the greatest surprise to me is the manufacturers inability to reduce inventory levels, which have remained flat at a little over 2 turns, and the most disappointing is the large drop in return on assets, from about 14% in 1999 to about 8% in 2011.  While the average revenue growth has been consistent at about 5%, the annual fluctuations have been huge.

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Revenue Growth

supply chain revenue growth

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Inventory Turns

pharmaceutical supply chain

Pharmaceutical Supply Chain: Return on Assets

pharmaceutical supply chain return on assets

My view is that these metrics reflect relatively immature supply chain practices in large pharmaceutical companies. It is little wonder given the attention paid to R&D and their high gross margins.

But there are some pharmaceutical supply chain industry trends that I hope will encourage pharmaceutical companies that they can combine their expectations of high customer service with more efficient supply chains that require less cash to operate.  I will be discussing the industry trends and the concept of a control tower to drive much greater supply chain effectiveness with Roddy Martin of Accenture, formerly of AMR Research, this coming Wednesday July 10th, 2013.

Please join us to hear our point of view and share your ideas. You can register for the webinar by clicking on the following link.

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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Inventory management, Pharma and life sciences supply chain management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

More than half surveyed chose RapidResponse over SAP and custom solutions

Published July 5th, 2013 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

As we described in our first blog of the series, we recently completed a customer survey project with TechValidate and are very pleased with the over 150 survey responses and the many stories we can share. And so, for our Friday posts, we have been featuring the different customer results on how they are using RapidResponse in their supply chain and the benefits they are realizing.

In this series, we will explore the following topics:

Voice of the customer part 1: Supply Chain Flexibility

Voice of the customer part 2: Supply Chain Visibility

Voice of the customer part 3: Supply Chain Planning

Voice of the customer part 4: What-if Analysis

Voice of the customer Part 5: Response Management

Voice of the customer part 6: Alternative Technologies

Voice of the customer part 7: Competitive Advantage

If you are eager to check out all the results, simply go to our TechValidate page. If you wish to use or share any of the content we’ve published to-date, click on the asset you wish to use and then select the download button to save. You can also choose the share button to distribute through various social media channels.

We asked our customers, what alternative technology did you use or evaluate when your were looking for a supply chain management solution? And, how does it compare to competitive solutions? From our results, it is clear that investing in a patchwork approach for integrated demand and supply chain management is a gamble, at best, and the industry as a whole is questioning the merit of ERP supply chain suites. With a growing focus on sales and operations planning (S&OP) as a means to ensuring agility, alignment and adaptability, the limitations of ERP systems and their associated modules are becoming very apparent.

more than half of survey organizations chose rapidresponse over sap and customer solutions

better planning capabilities

quick supply chain visibility

displaced SAP APO

better response times

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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Inventory management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

Another Link In The Chain: Using Project Management to Drive the Supply Chain

Published June 24th, 2013 by Dan Nowicki 1 Comment

At Kinaxis, I help our customers develop solutions to supply chain and project management challenges using RapidResponse. You may remember in my last blog entitled, “Another Link in the Chain: Connecting Project Management to the Supply Chain”, I discussed how changes in material, supply, demand, and resources can significantly impact project schedules. In this blog I want to continue that conversation.

Before integrated project management (IPM) came along, direct links between the supply chain and project management didn’t exist.  Such relationships led to project management features where supply and demand can directly link to and impact project tasks.In one of our first IPM implementations a question was raised resulting in another “link” in the supply chain.  In this situation, the construction industry was our focus. The client managed most elements of the project from project management software.

The ability to directly link the supply chain and project tasks was a great step forward.  However, after adding such links, independent demand still had to be manually updated and re-linked to tasks when a related project schedule or material requirement changed.  This naturally led to brainstorming on how such linking could be simpler.

Another Link In The Chain: Using Project Management to Drive the Supply ChainThe brainstorming raised an interesting question, “If we automatically link independent demand to a project task, why not also use automation to utilize project task data to generate, modify or delete independent demand?”

Ultimately, the result of the brainstorming killed two birds with one stone through the use of RapidResponse.  Now, two previously manual tasks (entering, maintaining independent demand and linking independent demand to the project) are automated.

Project Management Currently

With RapidResponse’s integrated project management (IPM), individual project tasks can be directly linked to supply chain independent demand or orders.  When material availability doesn’t support a project task, the discrepancy is immediately flagged.  Standard configuration options allows one to automatically re-schedule tasks based on the availability of independent demand and the orders they are linked to.  In either case, RapidResponse IPM provides visibility into the supply chain’s impact on a project, in order to identify and respond to conflicts.

Another Project Management Approach

When setting up IPM for use at a site, one could also use RapidResponse as the primary source to create project specific forecasts or actual independent demand.  The opportunity exists to populate independent demand orders and forecasts based on material requirements entered into a RapidResponse project plan using RapidResponse.  The quantity and timing of these independent demands would be defined and automatically adjusted based on the project tasks they are linked to.


When would it be most advantageous to drive forecasted and actual customer requirements directly from the project management tool?
Such a strategy is excellent for large, long projects that take months or years to complete and have one of a kind deliverables.  Examples of such projects exist in:

  • Construction
  • Ship building
  • High-tech projects for one-of-a-kind machines
  • Design and development phases of high-tech products before shifting to repetitive manufacturing

Often, in such projects, the key is to have the material on site at the time needed (i.e. build the foundation, clear land, prepare dry dock, utilize specialized materials in design experiments etc).  Managing the materials required for such projects can be managed within an ERP system, but this is often not the optimal tool, given that it was built primarily with repetitive manufacturing in mind.  Even more important, the ERP system is not linked into a project management tool.


Organizations can consolidate project supply planning into a single source of record.  By generating independent demand from the project plan, there is no longer any need for the project management tool to operate in parallel with (as opposed to being integrated with) the entry of forecasted and actual independent demand entered in the ERP system.  This reduces/eliminates effort to manage, maintain, and audit forecasted and actual independent demand in the ERP System vs. the project management tool.

Teams can reduce or eliminate the need to build, manage, maintain special part numbers, BoM’s and routing to drive project material needs.  Without the existence of these specialized parts in an ERP system, a significant amount of cross-department coordination and management of the Engineering and Manufacturing groups who often own part, BoM and routing data could disappear.  This could be especially important if project demands on these departments are minor (and often 2nd priority) relative to the standard production work that may be their primary priority to support.


Convert IPM material requirements into independent demand by building commands in RapidResponse, IPM can become the data entry and maintenance point to enter material forecasts or orders required to support a project.

Such a strategy is facilitated by creating RapidResponse command(s) to:

  • Translate IPM task material requirements into independent demand orders or forecast orders
  • Link the newly generated independent demand order’s to the appropriate tasks

An important design consideration for any company taking such an approach is to determine if project based independent demand created in RapidResponse will be translated into independent demand in the host ERP system. Depending on customer needs it may not even be necessary to use independent demand in the host ERP system.  In such a case, independent demand satisfaction can be modeled in RapidResponse based on material receipt and consumption logic.   If, on the other hand, project independent demand is created/maintained within the host ERP system AND RapidResponse, a strategy must be developed defining how it will be they be maintained to be in sync across both systems.

Organizations can use tasks in a project with material requirements as one would a production order, Routing/BoM in a traditional ERP configuration to drive quantity/timing of independent demand.

Just as re-scheduling a production order or planned order can result in shifts in the timing of the material that is needed so do shifts in the timing of a Project Plan’s tasks.  In repetitive production environments scheduling of operations needed to build product is facilitated through a production order, routing and BoM.  In a RapidResponse project based environment, these variables are analogs to a project, task, and task material requirement (for those tasks with assigned material requirements).

Repetitive Mfg. RapidResponse IPM
Production Order Project
Routing Project Tasks
BoM Lines Task Material Requirements

A production order has a routing where each operation represents certain production operations that can either have specific material requirements linked to it.  In a RapidResponse, the project is analogous to a production order.  Individual tasks, within the project, serve a similar purpose of operations in a routing, albeit with a much broader variety of activities which must occur.  In RapidResponse, material requirements are linked with specific tasks in a project plan just as material requirements from a BoM for a production order can be linked to any step in a routing (though often in many industries all material in a production order are linked and kitted in step 1 due to the relatively short life cycle of a production order).

Implementation considerations

  • Volatility in a project plan could lead to fluctuating material requirement schedules that could be difficult and frustrating to react to by purchasing and within the production MES system.  This could be mitigated by a number of strategies.  One possibility would be to selectively deciding if/when particular tasks will result in forecasted or actual demands.  The commands to create independent demand could be conditionally based on such things as the timing of the resulting independent demand or the status of the task.
  • New business processes/responsibilities may need to be defined since the trigger to buy/build material for a project shifts to data entry made directly into the project plan.
  • Others are dependent on the unique requirements of the adopter.

In conclusion, integrating project management to the supply chain can reduce the number of manual project management and supply chain steps required for maintaining and meeting project timelines and budgets.

As I mentioned in my last blog, if you are interested in reading more about this topic, we published a white paper on this subject. The paper describes an integrated approach to project management which enables an organization to model all their projects and their entire supply chain together in one environment. I recommend checking it out to understand the business case for linking project management to the supply chain and to understand the specific capabilities that should be included.


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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

An Award Winning Vertically Integrated Supply Chain

Published June 19th, 2013 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

An Award Winning Vertically Integrated Supply ChainA congratulatory shout out to our valued customer, Agilent Technologies who has recently won two awards for their integrated supply chain.

Agilent received top honors, winning first place, at the Supply Chain Council Awards for their End-to-End Supply Chain Vertical Integration project for the Electronic Measurement Group. The Global Supply Chain Excellence Award recognizes organizations that demonstrate excellence in the design, operation or improvement of a supply chain. Agilent’s project addressed the need to provide end-to-end visibility and be responsive to customers, while supporting their growth. Their efforts resulted in faster response times to customer needs, reduction of inventory and cost savings.

The second honor Agilent received was for Frost & Sullivan’s Manufacturing Leadership Council Award in the Global Value Chain Category. The Manufacturing Leadership Awards honor companies and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing.

We are incredibly proud of Agilent’s work and would like to extend our warmest congratulations to the team. To learn more about Agilent’s End-to-End Supply Chain, check out the complimentary case study, “Establishing A New View of the Extended Supply Chain” or the follow video interview with Yoke Sun Lieu, Head of Supply Chain Engineering, Electronics Measurement Business Group at Agilent.


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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration

How First Solar is Achieving End-to-End Supply Chain Alignment: A Case Study

Published June 18th, 2013 by Melissa Clow 1 Comment

First-Solar and Supply Chain Alignment We recently completed a case study with First Solar entitled: How First Solar is Achieving End-to-End Supply Chain Alignment.

First Solar is a maker of solar panels, as well as builder and manager of solar power plants. They have a complex product that’s part of an intricate supply chain; the Tempe-based business manages over 3500 suppliers and globally has over 33,000 people in their supply chain network.

This case study provides insights on how First Solar is operating effectively amid a volatile environment by achieving high levels of supply chain agility.

As an example, First Solar is able to monitor inventory and understand inventory positions in minutes. They are also modeling sales orders, forecasts and shipments in RapidResponse along with finished goods inventory and projected supply. The team can now provide their Sales team with exact figures of what is available to sell. Within three months of using RapidResponse, they saw a ten percent reduction in overall inventory.

Here’s a quote from First Solar’s VP of Global Supply Chain, Shellie Molina:

“The implementation of RapidResponse as our single demand planning tool has given us the cross-functional visibility that we never had before and has opened up the opportunity for us to replace our siloed goals with common goals and objectives across planning functions.”

To learn more, download the case study here:

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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Inventory management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management