Posts tagged as 'Manufacturing'

How do you streamline planning for tomorrow’s supply chain?

JohnWesterveld

Planning

What does your planning organization look like? Is it a series of silos? Individual fiefdoms throwing requirements back and forth over the wall? What are they spending their time doing? Are they drudging through the tedious work of placing orders with suppliers? Releasing orders to the factory? How much time are the spending truly adding value to the supply chain and how much time are they spending doing simple, mechanical, yet important activities?

Accenture has just released a white paper titled “Supply chain for a new age” which you can get here. In this paper, the author describes various components of the next generation supply chain and introduces the role of “Network Planners”.

A network planner would have ultimate responsibility for supply chain performance and would oversee all aspects of the supply chain from demand and distribution to detailed component supply for a group of products (a family or region or both).

As you can imagine, traditional supply chain tools and processes would quickly overwhelm any normal human, if they were to try to manage all aspects of the supply chain even for a relatively small set of items. If the network planner is to be realized, as Accenture points out, we need to have a way of automating the basic tasks and allowing the planner to focus on making key decisions and managing the significant exceptions.

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The internet of (supply chain) things

JohnWesterveld

IOT Supply ChainLightbulbs that change colors from a command on your phone and turn on when you enter the room, thermostats that can figure out when you are in the house and adjust accordingly, refrigerators that e-mail you when you are out of milk, garage doors that let you know when they are open, doors that can be unlocked from your phone even when you are across the country, cars that drive themselves, tags you can put on your keys so you will never lose them again. These are all examples of the internet of things. Some of these examples are fluff and likely won’t pan out, others may be real game changers.

Being a bit of a techie nerd, I’ve been following the Internet of Things (IoT) evolution on the consumer device market for a while, but I honestly haven’t given much thought to how the IoT will impact supply chain. This morning, I happened upon a video presentation from MPI and Rockwell Automation titled A deeper dive into the industrial internet of things on the Industry Week website. The video was a report out and analysis of a survey that MPI had done on Internet of Things in the supply chain. There were lots of interesting facts and figures in the report, but one fact that stood out to me was this.

In a 2014 study, 46% of manufacturing executives didn’t know what the internet of things was. A logical extension of this is that they also wouldn’t know how IoT could impact the supply chain. Maybe it’s time to understand how IoT will interact with and ultimately change the Supply Chain.

So what is the Internet of things? The source of all knowledge, Wikipedia, describes the Internet of things as:

“…the network of physical objects—devices, vehicles, buildings and other items—embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and network connectivity that enables these objects to collect and exchange data”

For consumer devices, we’ve seen examples of this at work for a number of years. More and more devices are getting internet connections and are either sending or receiving data. But what about supply chain?

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Change is coming: How will 3D printing affect your Supply Chain?

JohnWesterveld

3D PrintingI recently had the great pleasure of teaching a group of new hires about manufacturing. As I finished describing traditional manufacturing techniques we paused to discuss 3D printing and how 3D printing will change the face of manufacturing (note I said will…not if). It was a great discussion and led me to think further about the impact 3D printing would have on the supply chain and supply chain planning.

3D printing is an additive manufacturing technique for making 3 dimensional solid objects from a digital file. In additive manufacturing, items are created by laying down successive layers of material until the entire object is created. You may have the mistaken impression that 3D printers can only fashion little plastic toys. That couldn’t be further from the truth; in addition to plastic there are 3D printers that can make ceramic, metal, food, resin, glass, medical implants, concrete (there is even a 3D printed house), and electronic components.

Currently, 3D printing is being used to create items for aviation and for NASA, prototype items for the automotive industry and approaches are being studied to use 3D printing in the medical space to create body parts such as noses and ears. Recently, a team of researchers have even created a 3D printed organ.

I’m not the first to discuss the impact of 3D printing on supply chain. You can find other Kinaxis discussions here and here.

So, let’s think about how 3D printing can impact your supply chain…

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Where Are All the Women? Gender Gap in Manufacturing

AlexaCheater
  • by Alexa Cheater
  • Published

women in manufacturing jobTake a look around. How many women are currently working at your company? A recent report by the APICS Supply Chain Council shows if you’re in the manufacturing business, probably not very many. Their latest report, Minding the Manufacturing Gender Gap: How manufacturers can get their fair share of talented women, produced in conjunction with the Manufacturing Institute and Deloitte, explores why manufacturing is struggling when it comes to narrowing the gender gap.

It’s based on a survey of more than 600 female professionals who predominately work in the manufacturing industry, highlighting their personal perspectives on how companies can do a better job of recruiting, retaining and advancing women. With the industry expected to see a worker shortfall topping two million in the next decade, the gender gap has finally become a critical issue for many.

Women currently represent nearly half of the total U.S. labor pool (and are expected to overtake men any day now), but when it comes to manufacturing, they make up less than a third of the workforce. So what exactly is going on?

“Make way for women not because it’s good manners… do it because it’s good business and could help drive improvements to the bottom line.”

Taken from the report, the above quote isn’t just a nice saying—it’s fact. The report notes hiring more women leads to improved public perception, strengthened corporate social responsibility reputation, and investor perception – all of which can help a company meet and exceed shareholder expectations. What’s more, companies with a higher number of women on the board or in top management positions frequently experience better financial performance, including higher returns on equity, higher valuations, and higher payout ratios.

Other benefits of hiring women outlined include increased innovation, improved engagement levels, and enhanced team performance and collective intelligence. Since there’s obviously no good reason for manufacturing not to want to see an increase in women in the workforce, the real question is, what needs to happen to make that a reality?

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Teradyne – Managing Demand: How Agility Replaces Predictability – SupplyChainBrain & Kinaxis Video Series

MelissaClow
  • by Melissa Clow
  • Published

SupplyChainBrain attended our annual Kinexions user conference, and while there, they completed a number of video interviews with customers, analysts, and Kinaxis executives. And, we’d like to share them!

With consumer markets more volatile and unpredictable than ever before, companies need to make up for a lack of forecast accuracy with supply chains that can rapidly respond to changing demand, says Chris Vosse, business systems analyst with Teradyne.

Demand planners agree: the forecast is always wrong. “We haven’t been able to accurately forecast for a long time,” says Vosse. But rather than try to hone their predictions further, companies should be looking to improve their agility in responding to unexpected shifts in demand.

Vosse speaks of the process of “informed risk decisions.” At Teradyne, many components have a lead time stretching over two quarters, and require 26 weeks to procure. Yet customers expect delivery to occur within eight weeks or less. The solution, according to Vosse: “You need to start acting sooner in order to respond later.”

Watch now: Teradyne – Managing Demand: How Agility Replaces Predictability

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Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #5 Not having a supply chain risk management process

JohnWesterveld

supply chain risk management

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 #5: Not having a supply chain risk management process

In today’s society, unless you are rich enough that you can afford to replace your possessions, pay for your health care, and cover your liabilities, you have insurance (unless you are poor enough that you can’t afford the premiums). Insurance is a form of risk mitigation. Insurance protects us against theft, fire, accidents, and health emergencies and if this were to happen, it can provide for our family when we pass. Yet, a surprising number of companies (while they have traditional insurance) do not have a supply chain risk management “insurance” aka a supply chain risk management process. To put it another way, they have insurance to protect them if someone trips on their property and sues, but don’t have a risk management process to mitigate against their top supplier going out of business. The insurance covers what could be a million dollar risk, supply chain risk management protects against what could be a MULTI-BILLION dollar risk.

Supply chain risk can be broken out into multiple different types;

  • Geographic: This includes natural disasters and political unrest. These are the types of issues that impact supply for an entire region. We saw this type of issue over the past several years with the Japan earthquake / Tsunami in and with the Thailand floods. Political issues can also have a significant impact on supply. Conflicts, government policy changes, regulatory changes and coups can mean that supply is suddenly turned off or that a market is no longer available.
  • Supplier issues: This includes quality issues, delivery reliability, financial stability, reputation, strikes, and pricing changes. We talked about many of these issues in the first post of this series – “Offshoring without getting the full picture”. The key point here is that in today’s connected supply chain, your suppliers are an extension of your own business. If your supplier fails financially, it will impact your business. If your supplier goes on strike or can’t deliver for some other reason, it will impact your business. If your supplier has had a shaky human rights record, your business’s reputation can get tarnished. If your supplier decides that you need to pay more or global currency exchange rates drive up the cost of a component (and you have no alternatives ready to go) your margins can be significantly impacted.
  • Customer Demand: Interestingly, this is often ignored when people think about supply chain risk however, it can be one of the biggest factors. If your demand decreases, you have excess inventory or idle capacity. If your demand disappears completely you are out of business. If your demand increases significantly, your supply chain can be overwhelmed and delivery becomes an issue.

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Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #4 Making key decisions by modelling the supply chain in Excel

JohnWesterveld

Reason #4 Making key decisions by modelling the supply chain in Excel

Making key decisions by modelling the supply chain in Excel

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:

In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several top tier supply chain companies. Companies that are household names. Companies that have been in business for decades. Companies worth billions of dollars. Companies that are forced to use Excel to manage large swaths of their advanced supply chain planning. Companies that are starting to realize that while Excel is a powerful tool and can be used for lots of things, it isn’t the tool to use to run your supply chain.

Excel excels (if you’ll pardon the pun) at many things. But modelling complex supply chain relationships isn’t one of them. There are many issues with using excel that have been written about numerous times in this blog. A sampling are here, and here.

I can briefly summarize the main points;

Companies use Excel because their traditional planning systems don’t allow them to view and understand aggregate data and more importantly, don’t allow them to effectively react quickly to change. However, because people need this information and because people (especially those in supply chain) are very smart and come up with ingenious ways to solve problems, they extract data from their ERP systems and build complex models in Excel.

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