How Machine Learning Can Shape the Future of the Auto Industry

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 28, 2017 9:00:00 AM

The idea of robotics or artificial intelligence in the automotive supply chain is not something new or novel. In fact, OEMs and other manufacturers have been deploying robots on the production floor for many years to streamline processes and enhance efficiency. But what is new, at least in the last half decade, is the push for a completely digitized manufacturing platform that can enhance supply chain management at each touch point across the value chain.

Looking at machine learning in this way — a holistic reimagining of the planning and production process as opposed to at the production facility alone — puts machine learning on a grander stage in terms of shaping the future of the automotive supply chain. Not only does machine learning help planners and managers increase the efficacy and productivity at the planning and production stages, it also helps OEMs leverage lean manufacturing principles, which are critical to remaining competitive and viable in a crowded, variant-rich industry.

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Topics: Intelligent Planning, Digitization, Supply Chain Management, Lean Manufacturing

How Industry 4.0 Will Change the Manufacturing Industry

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Steam power. Henry Ford’s assembly line. Proliferation of coal-based energy. These developments in the evolution of manufacturing fundamentally changed how goods were produced and the way in which manufacturers moved products from the factory to the customer. If these were truly disruptive forces in the industrial economy, today’s producers are currently experiencing just as seismic a change in production processes in the form of Industry 4.0.

Most commonly defined as the movement of the industrial sphere to a more integrated, digital method of managing production and supply processes, Industry 4.0 is built upon the concepts of end-to-end (E2E) visibility, agility, and efficiency across each touch point in the value chain. Given the variant-rich nature of today’s manufacturing landscape, Industry 4.0 answers a common question for today’s manufacturers: How do I reduce overall operational costs while still being nimble enough to respond to unforeseen changes in planning or production programs?

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Topics: Industry 4.0, Manufacturing, Automotive Industry, Supply Chain Management, Lean Manufacturing

How S&OE Enhances Supply Chain Management

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 21, 2017 9:00:00 AM

It was the Scottish poet Robert Burns who said it best: “The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” This sentiment is perhaps no more true than in today’s global, complex automotive supply chain where demand planning and production programs often shift and change depending on a wide range of variables and elements - everything from the availability of component parts to labor to facility capacity and job scheduling. 

But to cut the complexity of mid and long-term planning and supply chain management, planners and managers have a relatively new tool at their disposal: sales and operations execution (S&OE). Coined in the last few years by supply chain industry publication Gartner, S&OE acts as a demand planning supplement or safety net to detect the possibility of bottlenecks or breakdowns in larger-scale planning platforms. This in turn allows planners and managers to create and deploy solutions to these disruptions to enhance each touchpoint of a company’s overall value chain.

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Topics: Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE), Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP)

What to Consider When Structuring Your Supply Chain

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 16, 2017 9:00:00 AM

We’ve discussed in great deal on this blog the elements that comprise effective supply chain management and how automotive manufacturers can leverage technology and strategy for lean management of their supply stream across the entire value chain. But what hasn’t discussed in much detail is how manufacturers starting from square one can best structure their supply networks and the decisions and considerations involved in such an enterprise.

The modern automotive supply stream is a variant-rich network of players with inherent risks and volatilities. However, the right supply chain architecture can provide a significant for value proposition for companies in cutting through the complexities of global supply and manufacturing and reducing the risk involved with doing business on such a grand stage. While technological advancements such as Industry 4.0, The Internet of Things, postmodern ERP,  and advanced analytics can streamline supply chain management, the right structure for a company’s goal, outcomes, and objectives is a crucial first step in engineering supply efficiency and productivity.

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Topics: Postmodern ERP, Supply Chain Logistics, Lean Manufacturing

5 Tips for Selecting the Right Supply Chain Technology

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 14, 2017 9:00:00 AM

In today’s global, interconnected automotive supply chain, the technology and software solutions a manufacturer deploys are just as important  - if not more so - as a company’s supply logistics and management strategies. Because so many of the critical actions and decisions in the supply stream take place in a digital environment, the right technology can either propel a manufactuer toward robust growth and productivity or relegate them to a static position of efficiency. In short, identifying the right supply chain technology for a specific supply network model can be a make or break decision for companies competing on a global stage.

What further complicates this crucial decision is the sheer number of available technology platforms and software solutions automotive manufacturers have at their disposal. The volume of choice and variance between software solutions can be a significant pain point for planners and managers, especially as they search for the most effective technology with the greatest level of integrations and enhancements to leverage lean supply chain principles.

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Topics: Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE), Supply Chain Management

How to Make Your Supply Chain a Vehicle for Growth

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 9, 2017 9:00:00 AM

For companies in the automotive industry, growth in large part depends on the success or failure of your supply chain. In a global, volatile, and variant-rich industry, the ability to seamlessly move products from the production floor to your customer’s door is top priority for supply chain planners and managers, and companies that achieve this desired result are able to leverage significant advantages over competitors when it comes to growing profits, revenues, and customer bases.

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Topics: Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE), Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), Supply Chain Management

How S&OE Reduces Risk in the Automotive Supply Chain

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 7, 2017 9:00:00 AM


If there’s one word that strikes fear into the minds of supply chain planners and managers, it’s risk. Today’s global automotive supply chain is a complex, variant-rich network of manufacturers, suppliers, and other partners. This results in a volatile landscape where any number of variables across each touch point of the value chain can significantly reduce the supply stream’s ability to effectively move goods from the production floor to the customer’s front door. Whether discussing sales and procurement, demand planning, production program allocation and scheduling, or transportation management, risk for disruption or breakdowns are a very real element companies must address and work to combat.

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Topics: Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE), Supply Chain Management

The Importance of Business Moments in the Automotive Supply Chain

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 2, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Imagine this scenario: A part inside the engine of John’s car breaks down and prevents the car from starting properly. John engages a function on the car’s console that then sends the specifications of the component part to a local auto part store that then alerts John the store is currently out of the necessary part.

At this point, the store’s inventory management system sends an alert to a regional manufacturer that then engages a shipment of replacement stock to the store or the individual part directly to John’s house. John can then track the shipment of the part in order to know when it will arrive and in what condition to best schedule an appointment with a repair shop to install the replacement part - in fact, the car might actually be able to schedule the service with a nearest auto repair shop based on location, customer reviews, or other criteria John chooses to input.  

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Topics: Supply Chain Trends, Digitization, Supply Chain Management, Lean Manufacturing

Is Your Supply Chain Truly Vertizontal?

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Feb 28, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Ask any automotive supply chain planner or manager about their top priority in supply chain management and you’ll hear the same thing: The need to cut the complexity of today’s increasingly global, interconnected supply stream and enhance the ability to meet the demands and desires of customers across all corners of the world. While the need to cut complexity is perhaps the most important task for OEMs and suppliers, it can also be extremely difficult given the two most common methods of supply chain integration in today’s landscape: vertical and horizontal. 

But in the last few years, a new brand of automotive supply chain integration has developed that allows companies to effectively leverage the most effective, integral elements of both vertical and horizontal integration. Vertizontal integration, or the merging of several aspects of  vertical and horizontal strategies to foster a lean supply and production strategy, has emerged as a key driver in automotive supply chain management and a critical tool for success in such a variant-rich industry.

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Topics: Postmodern ERP, Supply Chain Management

Back to Basics: The Importance of S&OP

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Feb 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

With so much of the conversation in global supply chain management surrounding technological advancements and the digital revolution via platforms like Big Data, Industry 4.0, and advanced analytics, it’s sometimes easy to forget the core principles that have driven the automotive supply chain for the last two or three decades. S&OP (sales and operations planning) is one of these basic principles that, while critical to an efficient supply stream, can sometimes go overlooked in the most pressing discussions of the day.

It’s easy to get caught up in the newest and most disruptive technologies poised to impact the automotive supply chain - even when it comes to S&OP. For example, a recent survey conducted by Supply Chain Trends cited major technological and software complications in implementing sales and planning solutions. Contrast that with a report issued by Supply Chain Management Review in which companies surveyed said they allocate roughly 70 percent of their S&OP budget on developing and implementing new technologies.

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Topics: Supply Chain Planning, Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), Supply Chain Management