Archive for the ‘Supply chain collaboration’ Category

Transform your supply chain process – don’t just improve it

Published December 18th, 2014 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

transform your supply chain handsawDid you ever hear the joke about the old lumberjack?  The old lumberjack came out of the forest and went for supplies.  He needed a new saw – his old two-man saw had been sharpened so many times there wasn’t much left.  At the store, the salesman showed him the newest tool for cutting trees called a chain saw.  The salesman said that he can cut trees 10 times faster than with the two person hand saw.  The lumberjack was impressed! He bought one.  Several days later he came back and said to the salesman “This saw is no good!  No matter how fast I push and pull it doesn’t cut! What’s worse – my partner keeps cutting his hand because there is no handle at the other end.

Okay… admittedly that was a silly joke.  But if you consider how many people think about supply chain software it’s like the old lumberjack and the chain saw. The chain saw was a revolutionary tool and if used right, could make a single man more effective than a team of two. Advanced supply chain planning software like RapidResponse can do the same thing for supply chain.

In my role, helping the sales team, I’m often asked to reproduce a report that the prospect currently uses to run the business.  I totally understand why this is important – the prospect wants to feel assured that their current business process can be maintained. Creating even the most complex report in RapidResponse is a breeze so it’s not a big deal for us.  The prospect gets value because the report that I’ve just built in RapidResponse replaces an Excel report that takes hours every day to update. In RapidResponse, the update is instantaneous and can show changes with every data update and with every change to the scenario.

The problem when you buy new software like RapidResponse and use it to speed up the old way of doing business, you are missing out on the true revolution that RapidResponse can bring to your supply chain.   One company we were selling to a few years ago wanted us to reproduce a report that alerted the buyer whenever a purchase order was changed by the supplier through the on-line portal.  So, we did that.  We also added a few additional bits of information that they could never get before.  One was how many customers were impacted by that delay.  The other was how much revenue was impacted.  With this new information, the buyer can instantly see the priority in which they need to tackle these late purchase orders; some changes had no impact at all – the orders were just replacing safety stock.  Others drove millions in potential revenue.  This simple addition significantly reduced the time the buyer spent on chasing down late orders that really didn’t matter and allowed them to focus on the ones that did matter!

If I were to offer any advice to those looking at new supply chain software it’s this; your supply chain planning can be (and should be) a competitive advantage for your company.  You are looking for better planning because you recognize the flaws in your current system. By all means, ensure that the candidate software can address your current processes, but then work with the vendor to think outside of the box. You don’t want to do your current processes faster – you want to revolutionize your processes altogether. Only then can you achieve the supply chain transformation you seek.

Are you considering transforming your supply chain?  Have you just gone through the process? What were the results? Comment back and let us know!

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


The Supply Chain “Change” Dilemma!

Published December 15th, 2014 by Prasad Satyavolu 0 Comments

Trevor Miles and I have been having a healthy discussion on the Internet of Things and how these technology changes are shaping the way we work.

This is part 4 in our Internet of Things Series: The Supply Chain “Change” dilemma!

A few weeks ago, Charles Wehlage wrote a blog post on his take on The Innovators Dilemma. I thought his analogies with supply chain strategy and execution were spot on. In this piece, Clayton Christensen specifically focused on why organizations fail. And not just any organization, but the great ones! The key learning is that the individuals who as a team have just witnessed a big win as a result of a hard worked strategy are highly likely to miss the budding wave of disruptive forces and be ready for the next change.

My own experiences witsupply change dilemna Svyantek DeShon System interface and hierarchy of effortsh different large scale transformations certainly point to this valid the hypothesis. An organization’s capability to sustain its innovative streak is largely dependent on the organizational “software” a.k.a. human resource + DNA. Therefore, the dilemma is how to synchronize the “social dynamics” within an organization and lead continuous change as digital technologies evolve and their adoption is a necessity.

The graphic from Svyantek and DeShon’s thoughts on “System interface and hierarchy of efforts required for change in an organization” illustrates the complexity of change. Organizational software comes before process and technology.

 

supply change dilemna organizations as machine or living system

I equate corporates especially the supply chain organizations with living organisms. They evolve as new scenarios emerge, oil prices fluctuate, new suppliers are added, customers are acquired, new markets penetrated and more data and information becomes available. It is wrong to assume that the collective intelligence of a thinking group can be subsumed in the so-perceived “automated Internet of Things (IoT)” world. Also, pushing the organizational supply chain change issues to a set of mere “team building” workshops will not suffice either.

Information flow within an organization plays a critical role in creating a culture of transparency, commitment to shared goals and observable leadership behaviors. The microcosm of the organization is thus formed within each cell of the organization. The information flow through these cells or nodes spread out within and outside the organization’s supply network shall determine the sustainability of change. Can we leverage the IoT paradigm to create a different organizational culture?

For most global organizations, the supply chain as a system can perhaps be best characterized as geographically spread but comprising of interdependent elements guided and orchestrated by thousands of brains. Arguably, these supply chains are highly complex and difficult to change.

As technologies provide new opportunities for disruptive innovation, building a “learning organization”- along the lines of the model proposed by Peter Senge- could perhaps help in not getting caught in its own success. According to Senge:

‘learning organizations’ are those organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.”

He argues that only those organizations that are able to adapt quickly and effectively will be able to excel in their field or market.

So, when Trevor and I started discussing the impact of Internet of Things on the Supply Chain; it soon became clear that we are looking at a massive opportunity for transformation. The path to realization will require balancing the communication, computing and control with human intervention on one hand and building a continuously learning organization on the other.

What are your thoughts on this matter? Comment and let us know.

Posted in Demand management, General News, Inventory management, Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #9: Relentless pursuit of one metric at the expense of other metrics.

Published December 3rd, 2014 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

supply chain metric

Over the years, working for and with numerous manufacturing companies, I’ve seen many supply chain practices that cost companies money. Over the next several weeks, I’ll outline these issues and discuss some ideas around how to avoid these practices.

You can find the previous posts here:

Reason #9 Relentless pursuit of one supply chain metric at the expense of other metrics

Imagine that your child brings home their report card and it’s a mix of good and fair grades.  You tell them that the only grade that matters is their geography mark.  You tell them that you expect an A in geography – and you don’t care what happens to their Math grade.  History? Don’t care.  Social studies?  Pshaw.  Just focus on geography and forget about anything else.  Sound ridiculous? It should.  Yet, these are similar instructions as what is passed down to the supply chain from executives focused on a specific supply chain metric.

One example that I’ve seen several times is around inventory targets.  The typical example is as follows;

  • A company uses complex software to model the supply chain considering a desired customer service level, lead time data, and statistical analysis of supply and demand variability.
  • This software then calculates the statistically correct, time phased safety stock levels across multiple levels of the supply chain, providing the optimum inventory in the optimum location.
  • If you sum this inventory across all locations, it represents the minimum inventory needed to achieve the desired service level given the current capabilities of the supply chain.
  • The executive team then provides the supply chain planning team with new inventory targets that are (of course) much lower than those values calculated by the inventory optimization tools.
  • The supply chain team then ramps down the inventory to the new target and responds to the inevitable stock-outs by expediting short materials and shipments.
  • The result is a lower inventory level, but much higher expedited costs and reduced customer service.

Why do companies focus on reducing a specific metric?  There can be multiple reasons. Some of the more likely are;

  • A metric (like inventory performance) is monitored by financial analysts and therefore tied to stock valuation.
  • A single metric has been performing poorly and the company wants to focus on improving that metric.
  • For the Dilbert lovers – Someone on the executive team has read an article/book espousing the importance of one metric or another (it happens more often than you’d think!).

The idea of focusing on a specific goal can indeed accelerate progress towards achieving that goal.  The problem is that nothing exists in a vacuum and if you are not careful, other metrics that you are not watching can degrade significantly.   For example, if your goal is improved customer service, the easiest way to achieve that is to a) increase safety stocks and b) increase expediting to ensure orders are delivered on time.  The next time you look at your metrics, you’ll see an improvement in on-time delivery, but you’ll also see an increase in inventory levels and operations costs due to expediting.

Things can get even crazier when individual departments have conflicting goals:

  • One group is rewarded for improved fulfillment rates while another group is rewarded for inventory reduction.
  • One group is increasing safety stocks to improve fulfillment rates while the other is trying to reduce them to cut inventory.

Sometimes laser focus on a specific goal is necessary to turn around a particularly bad metric.  However, for most a more measured approach is suggested.  There are a number of techniques and tools that can help drive improvements across the company;

1)      Systemic continuous improvement tools.  These are many and varied.  CQI, TQM, Six-Sigma, Lean, etc.  They all look at your enterprise as a whole, find waste and eliminate it. As an example, let’s look at lean and more specifically the one-less-at-a-time approach to inventory reduction.  This approach reduces the inventory in a system very gradually.  The idea here is that inventory is used as a buffer and acts to hide problems in the supply chain.  By slowing reducing inventory, you can identify those problems and solve them.  Inventory needed because of long lead time?  Find ways to reduce lead time.  Inventory needed due to sporadic demand? Find ways to reduce demand variability?  Inventory due to large lot sizes?  Find ways to reduce lot sizes through setup reduction on manufactured parts or through different contracts around purchased parts.  In this way, inventory reduction can happen without impacting other metrics like on-time delivery and operations costs.  In fact, by using this approach, on-time delivery and operations metrics often improve, while reducing inventory!

2)      Balanced scorecards.  Balanced scorecards consider multiple metrics, often with weighting and targets.  They report an overall score that considers all of these metrics. With a balanced scorecard, you can emphasize one metric over the others by giving it a higher weighting.  The key difference is that you are aware of the impact you are having on the other metrics because they are shown in the same scorecard.

3)      Balanced scorecards as decision support.  No, I’m not cheating by calling out balanced scorecards twice. (well…. maybe a bit). Here’s the thing.  When you combine balanced scorecards with an advanced planning tool that allows you to create multiple scenarios, some real magic can happen.  Imagine a balanced scorecard where you not only see what your performance has been, but you can see multiple simulation scenarios as well.  Now imagine if this balanced scorecard presented an overall score for each scenario.  Picking a course of action is as simple as looking at the scores for each scenario.  Finally, imagine if anyone in your planning team could have access to this power for each decision they need to make.  Suddenly, decisions are being made that consider the overall impact on the organization, not just against a single metric.

supply chain software balanced scorecards as decision support

A company does not succeed based on a single metric.  It takes a balanced approach and awareness of all aspects of your business to achieve success.   When targeting a specific metric for improvement, look for ways to improve that metric without negatively impacting others. It can be done and when it is, very often you’ll find that you improve the metric you are focused on and the others at the same time. 

Have you see examples where a company has focused on a single metric at the costs of all others?  What was the impact?

Comment back and let us know!

 

Posted in General News, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


Kinaxis on the road: 12th American Supply Chain & Logistics Summit

Published November 27th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments
SCL Summit

The American Supply Chain and Logistics Summit, now in its 12th year, brings together senior executives from across the Supply Chain and Logistics fields to enjoy an unbeatable mix of networking, expert case studies, interactive debates and master classes over three exceptional days.

Join Benji Green, Director of Global Sales, Operations, Supply and Inventory Planning at Avaya for the Kinaxis supply chain optimization workshop on December 9th. Register using the link below to receive 25% off your registration.

December 8-10, 2014
Dallas, Texas

Learn More and Register for the Summit

Schedule Meeting

 

Posted in General News, Pharma and life sciences supply chain management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply Chain Events, Supply chain management


Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #8: Keeping supply chain information in silos (and preventing your users from making the best decisions)

Published November 26th, 2014 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

supply chain information silos

Over the years, working for and with numerous manufacturing companies, I’ve seen many supply chain practices that cost companies money. Over the next several weeks, I’ll outline these issues and discuss some ideas around how to avoid these practices. You can find the previous posts here:

Reason #8 Keeping supply chain information in silos (and preventing your users from making the best decisions)

Don’t ask… you don’t want to know.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that phrase from different people in different contexts.  Sometimes it’s true.  I probably don’t want to know.  Sometimes (like when I hear it from my son) I probably not only want to know, I NEED to know.  Not because I want to pry (well… maybe a little) but mostly because I care and if I know I might be able to help.

When companies deploy supply chain solutions, they often make the decision for users… “you don’t want to know”.  They do this by preventing them from getting (or making it very difficult to get) any more information than they absolutely need to do their specific job.  Sometimes this information limitation actually prevents them from doing their job adequately.

Sometimes this is intentional and necessary;

  • Some companies (especially publicly traded companies) restrict access to revenue / margin information to prevent unauthorized financial data from getting out.
  • Some companies prevent access to data to prevent trade secrets (or in the case of US military manufacturers ITAR regulations prevent foreign nationals from accessing manufacturing data)

Sometimes this is intentional and questionable;

  • One company I’ve talked to told me that they limit information to their planners because they wouldn’t know what to do with it… that it would just confuse them. But in my opinion, there are few things more complex than supply chain management. Planners are smart people and if educated (APICS training should be a prerequisite in my opinion), they likely will have no problem absorbing and using additional information.
  • In other cases, information is limited because of interdepartmental rivalries, for example, “I don’t want demand planning to see my supply planning information.  I’ll tell them what they are getting.”This is just plain wrong on multiple levels.  If you hear this rational, then I’d look at your management levels and how people are being rewarded. In today’s competitive manufacturing environment, the only metrics that count are how a change impacts the company’s goals.  Departmental goals should be secondary.
  • One reason I’ve heard many times is that we don’t expose this data because one group “doesn’t care” about the information from the other group; “Demand planners don’t care about supply information; Planners don’t care about what orders are impacted by a change they are making”. Deep down we all care about the impact we are having on the company.  I think sometimes “don’t care” is the result of “I can’t” or “it’s really difficult to”. Which brings us to the next section…

Sometimes information is limited because of the systems we use;

  • Many companies suffer from limited visibility across sites.  The primary reason is that companies often grow through mergers and acquisitions and sites will often have different ERP systems that are incapable of working together.  Even if you use the same ERP system but sites are at different versions, (or even the same version but different instances) you can have limited or delayed access to information.
  • Traditional ERP systems limit access to information by making it very difficult to get the information you need.  ERP systems are transactional and are designed to view information one piece at a time.  If you look at the old green screen interface that we used back in the 70s and 80s and then compare it to a modern screen from a traditional ERP vender, you’ll notice that while the “modern version” runs on windows, it still looks and behaves very much like that green screen terminal interface.
  • Want to see summarized information in a cross-tab?  This is typically very hard to do in a typical ERP interface and you usually would need to run a report.
  • Want to see your results in a chart? Better export that to Excel.
  • Want to do add some additional information to a screen?  Sure! Submit a request.  Several months and thousands of dollars later – here you go!  This is one of the reason so many decisions get made using Excel (see “Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #4”)

Let’s look at an example of how information can change a role.  Let’s start with the customer service representative… the person on the phone taking orders.  In many cases, the only information this person may have is a standard lead time for order promising (if they are lucky they’ll have standard lead time by part.  In most cases it’s just a fixed lead time for everything. The problem is that the lead time is likely padded and over estimates how long it will take to fulfill the order.  The reason that the customer service representative is forced to work with such limited data is that traditional systems cannot quickly and accurately provide this information.  Imagine if you could provide the customer service person with a system that determined the “capable to promise” date. A date that given the current state of the supply chain, including component availability and capacity, accurately represented when the order could be fulfilled? Imagine, as well, a system that could even show what parts, supply orders and constraints are preventing the order from being completed on time.  What if in addition to the late items, the CSR had information about who was responsible for the items or resources that were late.  Do you think that would change the order promising function?

Now, let’s look at things from the other side – the component planner/buyer.  Let’s imagine that this planner was responsible for some parts that were going to be a few days late.  They may be able to get them here on time if they expedite the shipment… at a higher cost. Should they do it? In traditional ERP systems, it is a laborious process to peg up multiple levels through the supply chain to figure out if there is any impact (the order may be simply replenishing safety stock or it could be gating a multimillion dollar sale).  With an advanced planning tool, pegging is instantaneous and you can see exactly which orders are impacted and if enabled, the revenue and margin impacts as well.  Put this information into the hands of your planners and suddenly they are making decisions based on the impact to the company, not just to their own internal metrics (like expediting costs).

So what do you think? Would your supply chain be more efficient if users could get access to more information and that information were presented in a way that helps make better decisions?  Would you want your planners to be able to see which orders a shortage is impacting?  Would you want your customer service reps to be able to see why an order is late – right down to the component order that’s holding everything up?  Do you have an additional reason why some information should be restricted?  Comment back and let us know!

 

Posted in General News, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration


Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #7 Making decisions based on bad data (supply chain data accuracy)

Published November 19th, 2014 by John Westerveld 2 Comments
English: Book shelf

Over the years, working for and with numerous manufacturing companies, I’ve seen many supply chain practices that cost companies money.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll outline these issues and discuss some ideas around how to avoid these practices. You can find the previous posts here:

Making decisions based on bad data (supply chain data accuracy)

I went into a store the other day.  I’d driven an hour to get there.  I went to that particular store because their web site confirmed that they had 12 units on hand of the thing I was looking for.  When I got there and went looking, I couldn’t find it… the slot was there but there was nothing on the shelves.  I found someone from the store and asked about my item.   Yes, the computer shows they had 12 units on hand.  They went looking at the shelf the computer said the item was on (the one I just checked).  Not there.  They looked in the back.  Nope, nothing. They searched the shelves around where the item was supposed to be. Nowhere to be found.  “I’m sorry sir.  It looks like the computer made a mistake…we don’t have any”.  Hmmm… So I went back home and ordered it from Amazon.

A couple things struck me about that interaction.  Having wasted time going to that store, I’d be less inclined to use that store in the future – at least I’d be much less likely to trust their website’s inventory.  The second is that it likely wasn’t the computer that made a mistake, it was a mistake made by a person or process somewhere along the way.  And finally the same types of mistakes and process failings that resulted in my wasted trip occur all the time in supply chain. In addition to losing customers like me, those mistakes result in bad data that cost manufacturing companies millions of dollars.

Bad data in supply chain seems like it should be a minor thing.  I mean, it’s just numbers right? Let’s look at some typical supply chain data errors and think about the potential costs;

Lead time
If the planned lead-time is longer than actual, you get excess inventories. If the planned lead-time is shorter than actual, you get stock-outs and late customer orders.

Bill of Material
The Bill of Material drives material requirements through-out the supply chain. Missing components, extra components, bad effectivity dates, incorrect quantity per values will result in excess inventories, scrapped items, inaccurate costing, late customer orders, stock-outs and increased WIP.

Cost and price data
Inaccurate price and cost information impacts decisions based on margin. It can make unprofitable products appear to be profitable, and profitable products appear unprofitable.  In accurate costs can also impact pricing decisions driving higher or lower prices based on cost assumptions.  Finally, inaccurate cost information may cause you to make incorrect sourcing decisions.

Part master – ordering rules (Lot sizing, policies, etc)
Part master data controls how the system creates new supplies.  Bad data here can cause you to order too much driving excess inventory or too little driving additional ordering costs.

On Hand Inventory quantity/status
Decisions on when and how much to order are based on how much inventory the system thinks you have.  If inventory quantities or status is incorrect, excess inventory, excess costs, late customer orders and stock-outs can be the result.

Routing
The routing table describes how material flows through the shop and includes information on how long work should be scheduled across each work-center.  If this information is wrong, material will end up at the wrong work-center or the right work-center at the wrong time.  As a result, you can expect increased WIP, late customer orders and stock-outs.

Safety Stock rules/quantities
Safety stock influences the inventory levels expected on an item by item basis.  In addition to mistakes when calculating safety stock or setting safety stock rules, safety stock values can get stale.  In other words, the inputs (demand variability, lead time, etc.) that went into setting the safety stock value at the time they were set, may not be valid now.  Inaccurate safety stock values can drive excess inventory, excess costs due to expediting, late customer orders and stock-outs.

Demand (Actual Orders)
Inaccurate order information impacts in two ways; 1) an unhappy customer – especially if they don’t get what they ordered and 2) Increased costs due to excess inventory, excess costs from expediting.

Demand (Forecast)
Forecasts are always wrong.  Yet forecasts are what drive the business in many industries.   When forecasts are wrong, the result is too much inventory of some items and too little inventory of others.   This puts you in the unenviable position of having to explain to your stockholders why you have excess inventory while at the same time can’t meet revenue numbers because of stockouts.

Historical demand
Historical demand is the record of what was sold and when.  Historical demand is used to drive statistical forecasts, safety stock calculations and more.  Errors here will cause inaccurate forecasts, excess inventory, excess costs, late customer orders and stock-outs.

Capacity data
Capacity information determines what amount of work can be done in a given work center.  In finite systems, orders will be moved around to respect the available capacity.  In infinite capacity systems, planners will manually move orders around to level load work centers.  If capacity information is wrong, you can expect to see overloaded or under-loaded work-centers, excess costs due to expediting, increased WIP inventory, late customer orders and stock-outs.

As you can see, there are a variety of ways that inaccurate supply chain data can cost you money (and I’ve really only scratched the surface here).  So what can be done?  There are a number of tactics that can be used to improve supply chain data accuracy;

  • Audits – At a company I worked at in a previous life they recognized, through an earlier failed ERP implementation, the importance of data accuracy.  As such, they implemented a weekly MRP data audit where several parts were picked at random and the part master, BOM and Routing parameters were checked and validated.  In my previous post, Reason #6 Not effectively managing inventory, I talked about cycle counting.  This is a similar type of auditing targeting inventory accuracy.  In both cases, the key to improvement is root cause analysis.  If data is wrong, simply correcting the problem just fixes the data issue for that part.  Understanding how the error occurred and fixing the process that caused that error means that the error is less likely to happen again.
  • Data responsibility/data security – Ensuring that the right people are responsible for a given segment of data and that only those people can change that data is difficult and can be frustrating for some.  However, the risk of not locking down the data is that there is no control… anyone can change anything.  In the vast majority of cases, people won’t sabotage data (although that can happen).  No, usually, bad data gets created because people make changes without fully understanding the impact of what they have done.  Again, in a past life, we had one lady responsible for all item master changes made to the ERP system. Any change needed to be requested via a paper form. This form needed to have various approval levels before she would make the change.  While it did slow things down and admittedly was relatively inefficient, it ensured that any item master change was well thought out and vetted before it was made.  As a result our data accuracy percentage was consistently in the high 90s.
  • Alerting and what-if – With more advanced planning tools, you have a few more options around how to identify and correct some types of data errors.  Automatic detection of errors like missing cost data, missing sourcing data, order policy mismatches can all be detected and alerts generated that inform those responsible of potential issues.  In addition, advanced planning tools enable, through the use of simulations, the ability to try different planning parameters to see what the impact would be without actually driving any change to actual production.

Data errors if uncaught can result in millions of dollars of losses.  That being said, with some focused effort and perseverance you can eliminate the majority of data errors and get your supply chain running like the well-oiled machine it should be.

What data errors have you seen and how did it impact your supply chain?  How do you manage data errors in your supply chain?  Comment back and let us know.

 

Posted in General News, 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


Humans-In-Loop – Part 3 of Kinaxis & Cognizant Series

Published October 28th, 2014 by Prasad Satyavolu 1 Comment

Trevor Miles and I have been having a healthy discussion on the Internet of Things and how these technology changes are shaping the way we work.

This is part 4 in our series.

analytics-velocity

As the IoT (Internet of Things) unfolds across multiple aspects of human life, we should expect an exponential increase in human connectivity. Relying on a shared computing environment to having more than 2 computing devices per person and counting- Computing and Connectivity have come a long way for Supply Chain professionals.  As the graphic below suggests, the Analytics velocity is also increasing with time.

Consumption of the Analytics output in Supply Chain can both be human centric as well as an automated control action.  We know that operations environment demands an Agile and Effective Fulfillment which requires individuals in the Supply Chain organization to make fast decisions in real time.  There is ample scope of automating several of these decisions with multi-dimensional information input and in Memory Computing based engines. However, not all scenarios can be modeled even with the availability of perfect information. Thus posing a limit to this automation and paving the way for human intervention. These limits are being challenged as new paradigms emerge.

human involvementWhen we speak about IoT, our focus is on the Automation of 3C’s – Communication, Control and Computing – in a network of “things”.  How will the Automation thrust from IoT a.k.a. Cyber Physical Systems impact the organizational roles in the Supply Chain function particularly planning and execution?   How will the shifting locus of Industrialization from physical to cognitive workload impact the human involvement? (See graphic)

In Supply Chain systems, we are always trying to create efficient closed loop feedback systems for achieving higher performance levels.   I found the comprehensive construct of Cyber Physical Systems created by UC Berkeley particularly useful in analyzing and designing systems with Humans- In- Loop.

The design thinking with H-I-L can be applied to the Demand side (where human sensing due to large scale device proliferation and ubiquitous communication creates better information flow) and on the Supply side (reconfiguring organizational roles with real time analytics and information consumption possibilities to automate and aid human decisions).

While the sensory network of physical things is going through its adoption curve,  proliferation of “human sensing”  is almost viral–a billion+ people on Facebook and twitter- generating a context that can be useful in varying degrees in Supply Chain planning – from Consumer demand  preferences to the outbreak of a deadly virus presenting a logistical hazard and risk.  A multidimensional Humans- in –Loop design approach to IoT leveraged Supply Chain paradigm?

Prof Tarek Abdelzaher talks about the Cyber Physical Systems with Humans in Loop http://slideshot.epfl.ch/play/ntass13-zaher1.

cyber physical

 

 

Posted in Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management