Posts Tagged ‘Supply chain’

Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #3 Not having end-to-end supply chain visibility

Published September 17th, 2014 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

LA freeway is like complex streets of supply chain

Not having end-to-end supply chain visibility

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:

Imagine this scenario.  You are a supply chain leader. It’s Friday afternoon and your thoughts are turning to the upcoming weekend with your family.  The phone rings – it’s your VP of sales. A prospect that your company has been chasing for years has finally agreed to place an order.  It’s a big one and they need it fast.  Really fast.  Inside cumulative lead-time fast.  The question is can you do it.  Can you commit to this order with confidence that you can deliver?

Traditional ERP offers a couple possible options.  1) Load and pray. Accept the order and hope / pray that everything aligns and you actually can deliver on time… maybe event at a profit. The problem with this approach is that very often, you can’t deliver and you lose a customer and worse your reputation.  2) Fire drill (I knew a company that actually called it that). This is where you e-mail each node in the supply chain with the order requirements, have everyone do a feasibility analysis on accepting the order and then wait for the results. The results, however may take several days / weeks to come in.  By that time the customer and their lucrative order have moved on.

Why are there only these two options with traditional ERP systems? It comes down to the disconnected nature of these systems. Companies that have grown through acquisition typically have multiple ERP systems distributed throughout the enterprise. Even if systems are from the same vendor, they will often be at different versions and are not interconnected.  So a scheduler at one plant has no visibility as to the inventory position, capacity or material supplies at another plant.   The only recourse is to pick up the phone or pound out an email to find out…or guess.

There is a third option, one where you can commit to a customer order with confidence. This new approach enables you to simulate the addition of the new order, see the impact across the entire supply chain, try out different options to resolve any shortages and most importantly know that you can commit to and actually deliver this order…and respond in hours not days or weeks.

This option requires a new tool and a new way of thinking. This approach requires lightning fast simulation and, most importantly, visibility to all the nodes of your supply chain. Let’s look at these one by one;

  • Simulation – To simulate the impact of a major supply chain change like a large order you need to have several things; 1) Analytics that model the results from each of the ERP systems involved in your supply chain.  2) An in-memory data model that bypasses the slow read/write cycles used by disk based systems resulting in lightning fast supply chain calculations and 3) the ability to instantly create scenarios – effectively a copy of the entire database within which you can try out multiple approaches to resolve supply chain issues 4) the ability to share and collaborate with other members of your team.
  • Visibility– Imagine trying to drive a car where you have no visibility to the side, none behind nothing out front except through a little 4” by 5” window.  Yes, you might be able to successfully navigate but the chances of you making a very expensive mistake is pretty high. The sad thing is that this is how many of us navigate the complex streets of supply chain. Traditional ERP often are siloes of information locking off other nodes because they are using different versions or worse, entirely different versions. In our drop in situation, you could have sufficient inventory at a different site but never know it because you can’t see it. But visibility goes beyond the raw data.  Many traditional ERP systems limit visibility because they are designed to show one part, one order at a time.  You cannot look at aggregated data without running specialized reports or extracting the data and loading it into a BI tool.Visibility also means understanding the impact of your decisions on key corporate metrics. Knowing that when you make a decision, that it make sense not only from the context of your department, but also for the company as a whole.

How do achieve supply chain visibility?  Comment back and let us know.

 

Posted in Demand management, General News, Supply chain management


Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #2 Poorly executed or non-existent sales and operations planning

Published September 10th, 2014 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

sales and operations planning gears

Reason #2: Poorly executed or non-existent sales and operations planning

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 post here:

Tell me if you’ve heard this one before.  Your company has implemented an S&OP process.  At first it showed some promise, but now it has turned into a blamefest attended if at all by lower level representatives that aren’t empowered to make decisions.  No one trusts the numbers, inputs are late and you aren’t seeing any improvements month over month and people are starting to wonder “why bother”.  Sound familiar?

So how does a poor S&OP process cost money?

  • Excess and obsolete inventory. S&OP is all about aligning manufacturing and sales. When you don’t make what you sell and don’t sell what you make you create inventory.  Lots of it.
  • Lost sales.  This is the corollary to the above.  Typically companies with poor planning don’t have too much of everything.  They have too much of things that aren’t needed and too little of things that are.
  • Lost market opportunities.  Companies without an effective S&OP are typically much slower to react to market changes.  This means that their competitors will beat them into new markets and products.

A well-executed sales and operations planning process can transform a company; allowing them to better control inventory and costs while meeting rapidly changing demand pictures.  It does this by gaining alignment across the sales, demand planning, manufacturing and finance organization.  In effect making sure all areas of the company are working towards the same plan and towards the same goal.  5 years ago, I wrote a blog post in which I discussed the 3 pillars of S&OP. They are;

Process:  Trying to run sales and operations planning without a clearly defined process is like driving in a city where no one obeys the rules of the road….you probably won’t get where you are going.   If there were no process driving S&OP, then there is a very good chance that key information would not be presented (or presented poorly), key people would not be in attendance and that critical decisions would not be made.  It is important that the structure, timing and agenda of S&OP is documented, published and adhered to.   If the process needs to change due to changing business requirements, those changes need to be documented and published.

Executive Commitment:  It is very difficult (bordering on impossible) to implement an effective S&OP process without executive commitment.  Why?  First let’s ask what is the purpose of S&OP?  The purpose of S&OP is to align supply and demand and the various departments contributing to that alignment. Departmental alignment can only occur if the top level department executives are involved in the key decisions…because those top executives have the decision making authority.  Sales and Ops is a failure if the representative at the meeting needs to go back to their executive to get a decision.

Effective S&OP Tools: This includes the tools to analyze the data, present information and make decisions.  Effective S&OP tools also include the ability to integrate the data that drives S&OP.  While Excel can be fine to do the initial S&OP model, moving to the next level of S&OP effectiveness requires a more integrated, responsive and collaborative application.

S&OP is a powerful tool if performed well. Inventory reductions, improved efficiency, improved customer service and reduced expedites are all expected benefits.  However, If there is no buy in, if executive commitment isn’t there, if data isn’t reliable and doesn’t drive action your S&OP process won’t delivery these results.

Have you experienced poor S&OP planning processes?  How about excellent planning?  Comment back and share!

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


On the road! 4 September supply chain conferences we love

Published September 9th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

September is a busy time of year for us at Kinaxis – Many folks here are flying the skies to attend various conferences. Here’s the supply chain conferences we love and will be attending. Hope to see you in the coming weeks!

Gartner EMEA1. Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference
September 10-11
London, UK

Kinaxis is pleased to be a Premier Sponsor and participate in panel discussion of the 2014 EMEA Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference.

Panel Details:
“The Technological Advances that Will Catapult Supply Chains into the Next Decade”
Wednesday September 10th at 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM in Room Westminster B&C

Immediately following the keynote speaker, Trevor Miles, Vice President of Thought Leadership at Kinaxis, along with other technology vendors, will take part in the following panel topic: Technology advancements have been at the heart of supply chain transformations during the past decade. Throughout the next decade, a whole new set of technologies will underpin supply chain success stories. A series of thought-provoking questions focused on the future of supply chain technologies will be put to the panel.

Learn More
Schedule Meeting
 
Supply Chain Insights Conference Image
2. Supply Chain Insights Global Summit
September 10-11
Scottsdale, AZ

Kinaxis is pleased to sponsor and participate in panel discussion the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit.

This exclusive event is designed for the line-of-business leader (Supply Chain Leaders, Chief Financial Officers and Corporate Social Responsibility Leaders) driving supply chain excellence and building value networks.

Panel Details:
“Top 15 Supply Chains to Admire”
Wednesday, September 10th at 10:30 AM – 11:15 AM in Room Westminster B&C
The Phoenician, Scottsdale, AZ

The “Top 15 Supply Chains to Admire” is the culmination of a two-year effort to evaluate supply chain performance and improvement for the years of 2006-2013 by industry by vertical for publicly-held companies. To make the list, companies out-performed their peer group on operating margin, inventory turns and Return on Invested Capital while driving significant improvement in financial metrics over the period.Supply Chain Improvement is based on a detailed analysis calculated factors for balance, strength and resiliency. This methodology, termed the Supply Chain Index, was developed in partnership with the Operations Research team at Arizona State University. As part of the panel, four ex-AMR analysts –Roddy Martin, Mickey North Rizza, Lora Cecere and CJ Wehlage– will share insights on the results and the trends.

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LogiPharma US
3. LogiPharma
September 16-18
Princeton, NJ

Kinaxis is pleased to be a sponsor and participate in panel discussion of North America’s #1 End to End Supply Chain Conference for Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Companies.

Supply Chain Visibility Panel Details:
“Getting Information from a Variety of Systems into One Location to Extract Information”
Thursday September 18th at 9:55 AM

Join Trevor Miles, Vice President, Thought Leadership at Kinaxis, along with supply chain executives, as they discuss ways to gather data from a variety of systems into one location for the purposes of gaining actionable information and insight to make decisions in real time.

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Schedule Meeting
Automotive Logistics Global Conference
4. Automotive Logistics Global Conference
September 16-18
Detroit, Michigan

Kinaxis is pleased to be a Silver Sponsor of the 15th Annual Automotive Logistics Global Conference.

The Automotive Logistics Global Conference is the place where the intelligence, contacts and expertise come together to address industry challenges.  Join Kinaxis and the most senior executives from OEMs, Tier suppliers and LSPs to network, learn and do business.

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Happy Tuesday all!

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


Do Supply Chain Planning systems generate any value?

Published September 8th, 2014 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

I have been in the advanced planning and scheduling (APS) space since 1995 when I joined i2 Technologies in Europe. Before that I was in management consulting doing what would be called supply chain design or reengineering today.

While MRP and S&OP were defined as early as the 1980s, these provided rough cut analysis at the aggregate level, nowhere near the level of detail that is possible today. The diagram below by Oliver Wight, with some enhancements by me, captures the progression of capabilities since the 1970s. My enhancements were to add the underlying technology and company information at the bottom which gives some context.

 Oliver Wright S&OP IBP

The key point is that I have spent a lot of my working life focused on the value generated by more advanced planning solutions.

It has been with some shock, therefore, that over the past few months I have come across a number of prospects, partners, and analysts that question whether any real value has been generated by all the investments in technology over the past 25 years. I have come to the conclusion that this needs some further analysis, which I won’t be able to complete in a single blog.

Let me start with the confusion between planning and execution. I was on a call last week with a large company in the food and beverage space that has spent $100s of millions, and many years, on an ERP deployment. And of course during the deployment their organizational structure has changed and they have gone through some M&A activity in that time. Needless to say they have a continued multi-year deployment of the supply chain planning system provided by the ERP vendor. And they are still a long way from complete from deploying the ERP modules let alone the supply chain planning modules. Now they want to deploy an S&OP process. They have piloted the process in Excel and know that they need an enterprise level solution for a global roll-out of S&OP. The issue is that none of their IT investments in the last 10 years have moved the needle on operational metrics such as inventory levels, case fill rates, and other operational metrics. Their words. As a consequence they are looking for tangible evidence of value before progressing with a global deployment.

paul meyer productivity quoteAbout a week before that I was at dinner with Mo Hajibashi of Accenture. Mo has been around this space about as long as I have and has seen all the changes. We were reminiscing about the trade exchanges that were so much part of the discussion in the late 1990s. Of course these largely went the same way as the rest of the dot com bubble. But Mo went on to say that many companies have struggled to quantify value from their investments in supply chain systems. We were there to discuss other topics so we did not dig too deep into his statement, but it stuck, and came roaring back when I was in discussion with the company I mention above.

In July, Lora Cecere of Supply Chain Insights kicked this all off with a blog on the Forbes web site titled “My Quest to Know …” in which she seemed to question the value of IT in driving value in corporate performance. She states that

As technologies evolved over the course of the last decade, there was a promise that investments in software like Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP), Supply Chain Planning (SCP) or Business Intelligence (BI) would improve corporate performance. I was a research analyst in the throes of this movement, writing article after article on how IT projects will drive corporate performance improvements. I believed it. I was a prolific writer and a committed disciple. I thought it would transform organizational capabilities.

While Lora and my paths are different, our trajectories are the same. I studied Industrial Engineering and Operations Research focusing on Optimization Theory. I lost faith in optimization early when I realized that the uncertainty in our knowledge of true capacity, yield, lead times, and hundreds of other variables drowned out the promise of optimization. And that is assuming that we have a good handle on demand, which we don’t. However, I still believe in the promise of greater productivity through replacement of slow and manual processes with fast and agile digital processes.

In other words, while I didn’t dispute Lora’s findings, I was puzzled by her conclusions of supply chain planning systems. She seemed to be saying that benefits have not been realized from deploying planning systems, which didn’t fit my understanding of her position. When I asked Lora about her blog she replied that:

Supply chain planning, while over-hyped, and under-delivered by many technology vendors and consultants, adds value. The companies that achieve the highest levels of performance, and balance, in corporate performance make the design of their networks and their planning processes a priority. It does not happen overnight, and does require the right fit of technology to drive greater potential. The factors are the right data model, a frequency of planning that reflects the rhythms and cycles of the supply chain, and the right level of granularity of the modeling. The best planning systems are implemented carefully based on conference room pilots and focus on modeling the business. As a result, the best implementations are usually not the fastest.

The market has been scarred by two issues: the bad behavior of the best-of-breed solutions in the first generation of solutions, and the lack of depth of the extended ERP solutions. As a result, there currently a gap between what companies want and what they have. However, excellence in corporate planning matters. The concepts improve the potential of the organization to deliver higher levels of balance sheet performance. The greatest value today usually comes from a best-of-breed solution that is implemented by the same best of breed provider. The over-hyped promises of extended ERP implemented by large system integrators as advertised on signs in airports has not driven the levels of value that the best-of-breed solutions have.

Perhaps we have been looking at the benefits of  supply chain planning systems too narrowly. There have been additional benefits, and Lora points to two of them, namely our ability to absorb supply chain complexity – Lora refers to product complexity – and become a lot more efficient as measured by revenue per employee. I consider these huge gains. How could Apple have grown like it did both in terms of product and market expansion without greater efficiency and the ability to coordinate the flow of materials throughout the world? How could Procter & Gamble have expanded into the emerging markets without forming a number of regional planning hubs?  (Please note that I am using company examples which are not Kinaxis customers deliberately so that I cannot be accused of bias.)

Planning systems do improve supply chain performance when coupled with process and organizational change.  Did anyone see that wonderful spoof in which a daughter gives her elderly father an iPad who then uses it as a cutting board? This is Lora’s point. Lora is running the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit next week in Phoenix, and one of the agenda items is about the Supply Chain Index she has been working on. Unfortunately I cannot be there. I’d really like to be in the session that discusses the supply chain index Lora is developing.

us manufacturing output jobs

As I have stated already, the real question is what would have been the cost of running these massive supply chains without the IT investments? While we might have exhausted the benefits to be gained from large ERP deployments, I am not at all convinced that we have got even close to 50% of the efficiency gains we can achieve with new solutions based more on consensus building and collaboration than on optimization. I am one of those gray-haired men Lora’s refers to in her blog, but I am also a ‘digital native’, something that cannot be said about most of my contemporaries, who are typically ‘digital immigrants’ at best. Yet my contemporaries are the ones making large decisions about organizational structures, processes, and solutions that are rooted in mental models developed and perfected in the 1970s and 1980s. And far too many of the analysts and management consultants continue to position these mental models as best practice. They are not; They are yesterday’s practice.

digital natives versus digital immigrants

But let us step back from my polemic and look at the data. Of course it is impossible to separate out the investment in planning systems from robotics and other technology investments.  But we can look at the ‘digital revolution’ as a whole and make some pretty broad assumptions and correlations with planning systems. First of all this isn’t a recent topic. As early as 1990 Erik Brynjolfsson of MIT published an article titled “The Productivity Paradox of Information Technology: Review and Assessment” in which he cites even earlier analysis of the topic. Erik states that:

The relationship between information technology (IT) and productivity is widely discussed but little understood. Delivered computing-power in the US economy has increased by more than two orders of magnitude since 1970 (figure 1) yet productivity, especially in the service sector, seems to have stagnated (figure 2). Given the enormous promise of IT to usher in “the biggest technological revolution men have known” (Snow, 1966), disillusionment and even frustration with the technology is increasingly evident in statements like “No, computers do not boost productivity, at least not most of the time” (Economist, 1990).

erik brynjolfsson raching with the machine

However, in a subsequent article published in 2003 and titled “Computing Productivity: Firm-Level Evidence” Erik states that

We explore the effect of computerization on productivity and output growth using data from 527 large US firms over 1987-1994. We find that computerization makes a contribution to measured productivity and output growth in the short term (using one year differences) that is consistent with normal returns to computer investments. However, the productivity and output contributions associated with computerization are up to five times greater over long periods (using five to seven year differences). The results suggest that the observed contribution of computerization is accompanied by relatively large and time-consuming investments in complementary inputs, such as organizational capital, that may be omitted in conventional calculations of productivity. The large long-run contribution of computers and their associated complements that we uncover may partially explain the subsequent investment surge in computers in the late 1990s.

In other words:

  • There is a sufficient business case in the short term (12 months) to justify IT investments
  • While there is a significant delay between the investment and the full gains in productivity, the gains too are massive, much greater than first assumed

In the paper “Computers, Obsolescence, and Productivity” published by the Federal Reserve Board in 2000, the author, Karl Whelan, states that:

Real business expenditures on computing equipment grew an average of 44% per year over 1992-98 as plunging computer prices allowed firms to take advantage of ever more powerful hardware and, consequently, the ability to use increasingly sophisticated software. These developments have helped improve the efficiency of many core business functions such as quality control, communications, and inventory management, and, in the case of the Internet, have facilitated new ways of doing business. They have also coincided with an improved productivity performance for the U.S. economy: Private business output per hour grew 2.2 percent per year over the period 1996-98, a rate of advance not seen late into an expansion since the 1960s.

This is enough evidence for me. At the same time I have no doubt there has been extensive over promising and under delivering, and bungled deployments. Do we really want to go back to typing letters and mailing them to customers and suppliers? Do we really want to use a manual planning board to plan the purchase of components and assembly of a tablet that occurs in multiple continents across many organizational boundaries?  I am highlighting where many of the productivity gains have already been realized.

It is going to require a new generation of ‘digital natives’ in senior positions making decisions about organizational structure, processes, and supporting technology before we realize the full potential of IT investments. And the benefits we have realized so far are enough to justify continued investment.

human evolution technology

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


At Last…My First Four Weeks At Kinaxis

Published September 5th, 2014 by Jennifer Bell 0 Comments
At Last!

At Last! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s the end of my first four week as a Kinaxian (aka Kinaxis employee), and you can queue the nightclub lullaby sung so warmly by Etta James.

This romance started back in 2011 when I was researching planning solutions as a Systems Analyst at First Solar, Inc.  I stumbled across the Kinaxis website and watched a marketing video that showed the creation of a scenario…love at first sight. Luckily for me, First Solar hired Shellie Molina, who had leveraged the software at previous organizations. A few months later, we were attending Kinexions and she was signing on the dotted line.

From the beginning, I looked at implementing RapidResponse as the opportunity of my career.  But, I’m not sure I realized exactly how big of an opportunity it was. The next two years were so fun! We implemented demand/supply balancing, full integration to 4 source systems, a custom production planning solution and integrated project management. It was a whirlwind. The thing that I loved the most about my job was how much I was able to say ‘yes’ to my customers. The platform was so flexible that I could do almost anything.  I was limited only by my imagination.

As I worked with so many Kinaxis employees throughout the implementation, I was repeatedly impressed at the knowledge, experience and spirited approach of the group. The more interaction that I had, the more intrigued I became. So, when I discovered there was an opening on the Solution Demonstration team, I was very excited to travel to Ottawa, meet the team and interview for the role.

I am excited to be a Kinaxian.  As a member of the Solution Demonstration team, I will be focused on positioning RapidResponse as the best solution for new potential customers. I will have an opportunity to expand on my knowledge of supply chain across different industries.

Over the last 4 weeks, I have not been disappointed. Kinaxis is brimming with helpful people who are experts on the product and, also, in supply chain best practices. I’m most looking forward to picking their brains at every chance presented.

So, queue the music, at last…

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


Throw Back Thursday: How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?

Published September 4th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand? Kinexions - Kinaxis & SupplyChainBrain Series

As I’ve mentioned in my last couple of Thursday blogs, we are starting to gear up for this year’s Kinexions (our annual training & user conference). A few weeks ago I began to reminisce about our videos from past conferences and I decided to create a blog series to share. So, on this ‘Throw Back Thursday’, I would like to share this video of Trevor Miles, Vice President of Thought Leadership, speaking about “How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?”.

In this video, hear Trevor detail industry’s major supply-chain management challenges – in particular, the difficulty of obtaining full visibility of supply and demand, and dealing with the volatility of markets.

Many companies seem wedded to their spreadsheets, even though they’re aware of the format’s shortcomings. Miles says executives have “a very legacy approach” to thinking about business processes. As a result, they’ve created “islands” of automation that do not add up to a coherent, smoothly flowing supply chain.

“People want to get away from that,” he says, “but it’s the manner in which they are trying to enable those different processes that is just lacking.”

If you don’t see the video below, view “How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?” here.

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


Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #1 Offshoring without getting the full picture

Published September 3rd, 2014 by John Westerveld 2 Comments
Here, there and everywhere | The economist
Here, there and everywhere | The economist

Reason #1: Offshoring without getting the full picture

Over the years, working for and with numerous manufacturing companies, I’ve seen many supply chain practices that cost companies money.  In a series of blog posts, I’ll outline these issues and discuss some ideas around how to avoid these practices.

We all understand the appeal of moving manufacturing offshore;   In many cases, offshore manufacturing is considerably cheaper, is apparently easier (just send the requirements and they build it!)  But before you pull the trigger, make sure you understand these cost factors that don’t often get considered;

Longer lead time – The product that at one time was manufactured in your plant and then shipped to your customer (often in the same country) is now being shipped by boat.   Instead of a 1 week lead-time, you are looking at a month or more.  This significantly changes the supply chain picture and must be considered in terms of additional safety stock requirements (which will drive up inventories) and your order promise policies.

Communication issues – Dealing with people in other countries has its challenges; language barriers can make communicating detailed technical issues a challenge.  Meetings are difficult to set up because one side or the other will need to take the call outside of normal business hours. And if you decide to meet face to face, you are looking at long travel times.

Increased transportation costs – Has anyone noticed that the price of fuel is going up? Kind of hard not to notice actually.   And I don’t think we are going to see fuel prices declining any time soon.  These high fuel costs impact the shipping lines too and those costs will get passed on to you.

Loss of control and oversightSupply chain is complex.  Anyone remember the complexity of managing a multi-part engineering change? Expediting multiple lines on a customer order?  Implementing a manufacturing process change, Resolving a significant quality issue? Tough to get everything working together, right?  Now imagine trying to do these things when you have no control over the manufacturing process.  The bigger issue is that in the public’s eye, there is no difference between the company manufacturing the product and the brand that owns it.  So, if the company manufacturing your goods has an accident or mistreats their employees, your brand is going to get dragged through the dirt.

Intellectual Property loss – Very often, your design, your manufacturing processes are a closely guarded secret, and rightfully so.  This knowledge is what sets you apart from the competition. When you offshore your manufacturing you are, by necessity, letting your secrets out to the world.  And because you are dealing with a foreign country you may not have recourse if the company you contracted to make your product goes ahead and copies your product.

So, as I mentioned earlier, moving your manufacturing offshore could well improve your financial position.  That being said, before you make the move make sure you investigate and consider these additional cost factors.

Do you have other costs associated with offshoring?  Have any interesting stories? Comment back and let us know.

 

Posted in General News, Inventory management, Supply chain management


Elephant in the Room: Thoughts on Metrics That Matter in Semiconductor and Hard Disk Drives

Published August 29th, 2014 by CJ Wehlage 0 Comments

Metrics That Matter in Semiconductor and Hard Disk Drives

Supply Chain Insights recently published a Metrics That Matter report covering both the Semiconductor and Hard Disk Drive (HDD) industries. Despite being hit hard by the recent recession, overall the research shows that these two industries have fared well over the last decade and are positioned to continue that success.

Success, provided they monitor the 7 “elephants” in the room.

Consolidation

Notice in the Supply Chain Insights report, there are only two HDD companies.  That industry has already gone through consolidations.  Semiconductor is poised to consolidate, which will have huge impact on the metrics.  It’s already happening with Avago/LSI, RF Micro/TriQuint, Micron/Elpida, MediaTek/MStar and Fujitsu/Panasonic.  Speed to integrate the planning functions during an acquisition is critical.

Profitability

With the OEM’s driving down the price, the semiconductor/HDD companies will have to follow (or innovate new products).  Lower price means lower profitability. This will begin to impact the semi/HDD ability to raise capital and innovate/expand.  Cost pressures and faster time to market in the planning processes will be required.

Global pressure

Consider that the Chinese and India governments are investing in the semiconductor industry.  With China already a source for semiconductor raw materials and the China/India end consumer market growing, there will be pressure to supply chips and hard drives to local China/India OEM’s first.  This could create a shortage in the US/Europe OEM chain.  Understanding inventory planning will take on a new dynamic.

Of course, like any industry, Semiconductor and HDD manufactures are faced with a set of unique challenges in their space that puts their supply chain at risk.  The largest risk being a balance between shrinking product lifecycles in the OEM world versus expensive asset utilization.  We are at a time where consumer electronic brands have a 9 month (that’s 270 days) lifecycle, while Semiconductor & HDD supply chains have 6 month component lead-time, with 3-5 year depreciation of capacity.  After reading the research, I would summarize the main obstacles as follows:

Position in the Supply Chain

As suppliers of technology embedded in more complex products, Semiconductors and HDD manufacturers find themselves further back in the supply chain, often 3-5 levels down. This can make it difficult (compared to those closer to the front of the supply chain) to find balance in what Supply Chain Insights calls the Effective Frontier – growth, profitability, cycle and complexity. The ‘bullwhip effect’ certainly plays a role here, creating wide fluctuations (over and under) of supply and demand – due to disorganization, lack of communication or miscommunication, incorrect demand information, etc. – as information moves down the supply chain to the manufacturer.

Potential for Tightening Margins

Related to their position in the supply chain, competitive and consumer pressures that drive down pricing are often pushed down the supply chain, forcing suppliers to tighten their costs.

Supply Chain Length

Reliance on suppliers beyond the US borders has extended the length of the supply chain, and opened it up to significantly more risk, as demonstrated by the impact of the Thailand flooding on both the Semiconductor and HDD segments.

Growing Complexity

As one of several suppliers contributing to the creation of a single product, Semiconductor and HDD manufacturers are susceptible to issues experienced by others in the supply chain, as explained by Broadcom in the Supply Chain Insights report: “Our products are incorporated into complex devices and systems, creating supply chain cross-dependencies. Accordingly, supply chain disruptions affecting components of our customers’ devices and/or systems could negatively impact the demand for our products, even if the supply of our products is not directly affected.”

Despite these challenges, the Supply Chain Insights dive into financial data shows that these two industries have fared well, thanks to strengths in product innovation and supply chain planning functions. More specifically, the research shows strong year-over-year growth and large (and increasing) operating margins (with minimal impact -so far-on from upstream cost pressures).

On the downside, it appears that these industries are struggling with inventory issues. The research shows the cash-to-cash cycle has increased, as have days of inventory, and inventory turns are on the decline. Supply Chain Insight’s look at four key Semiconductor companies and two key HDD companies indicates these inventory issues are not the result of poor inventory management but rather an industry trend. The research suggests that both product complexity and the length of the supply chain are contributing factors.

Based on the above, it seems clear that putting a focus on optimizing inventory management practices, making risk management initiatives a priority, and building strong collaborative S&OP practices with their customers, will help Semiconductor and HDD manufacturers continue to see success in the coming years.  This comes with a solid planning system of record.  One that will remove manual steps in the process, drive real time information from the semiconductor/HDD testing to the OEM demand, and connecting the end-to-end decisions with the planning model.

P.S. The Supply Chain Insights’ research report covers additional areas than what I’ve summarized here, and supplies comparative financial data. If you’d like to read the Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: Semiconductors and Hard Disk Drives report in its entirety, you can download a copy here, with no registration required.

 

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