It’s the holiday season. You’re planning a big meal for friends and family. You’ve decided on the menu, selected recipes, made a list of ingredients, and identified the tools you need to actually prepare the meal. You’ve made a prep list, blocked off time in your day to actually put the ingredients together and cook. And in completing all these tasks ahead of time, you’ve given yourself enough of a base to finish the meal on-time, within budget, and in the most pleasurable way possible.
There’s a saying when it comes to American football: Games are won during the prep time between Monday and Saturday, not on the field Sunday. Understanding the opponent and creating a strategy or scheme to combat that opponent actually has more value than how the players perform or the events that happen during the game. And the same is true for today’s manufacturing landscape and how planning and production strategy are the most important aspects of a successful production cycle.
There are a number of tools manufacturing companies have at their disposal to help solidify planning and production strategy at the front end of the production cycle. Procurement. Resource allocation. Job allocation. These are valuable in helping companies chart an accurate course for efficient production based on market and customer demands. But while these safeguards in demand planning give manufacturing companies some level of insight and maneuverability in responding to alterations in rules or restraints in production programs, many of the most significant events or occurrences in today’s global manufacturing supply chain happen in the moment and without much warning or advance notice.
Imagine trying to walk a tightrope. You must have incredible balance, be extraordinary nimble, and understand the nuances of each step as you complete your journey from one side to other. You also have to account for the context in which you’re walking the tightrope: weather or climate conditions, barriers or impediments along the wire, or other significant hurdles along the way. In short, to successfully negotiate such a challenge, the tightrope walker has to execute a number of tasks in quick succession (or sometimes simultaneously) to make it from Point A to Point B.
The same is true for demand capacity planning in today’s manufacturing and logistics landscape. Particularly in variant-rich industries, the proposition of balancing demand and capacity - the amount of product or component parts needed to successfully fill orders and maintain efficient production schedules versus the sheer volume of components and parts required on-hand at all times - is intricate and complex. Many supply chain analysts and manufacturing industry insiders believe, even given today’s technology via integrated planning systems, that this issue is at the core of supply network logistics, especially given expansion and growth into emerging markets in new parts of the world.
Buzzwords abound in today’s manufacturing and logistics industry. As technologies develop, emerge, and take hold, so does a new vocabulary companies must embrace in order to successfully leverage the concepts, principles, and philosophies of an ever-evolving business landscape. One such buzzword or topic of the day many planners and managers come in contact with yet fail to fully realize is postmodern ERP. Whether it’s because the lack of visibility surrounding these concepts or a failure to fully embrace them as part of lean manufacturing and supply chain management, postmodern ERP is perhaps one of the most least understood or actualized elements of manufacturing and supply logistics. Not only does postmodern ERP have the potential to transform a company’s manufacturing and supply logistics, but it’s a key element in cutting the complexity of global supply chain management and leveraging enhanced operational functionality.
As something of a branch from enterprise resource planning (ERP), postmodern ERP takes the next step in helping companies across a number of critical functions in planning and production. But in furthering our understand of these buzzwords or key terms (like postmodern ERP), today’s manufacturing and logistics companies must ask themselves: What is so modern about postmodern ERP? What does postmodern ERP actually mean in terms of the day-to-day operations? What is the true value proposition of postmodern ERP in a global production and logistics network?
It simply cannot be stated enough or more clearly: Success for manufacturing companies stems largely from the ability to control, mitigate, and reduce risk. While success can mean a number of things to any number of companies, the capacity to reduce the amount of uncertainty in operating a global supply stream is perhaps one of the most critical pain points across today’s manufacturing landscape. No matter how hard planners and managers work to contain risk, the sheer nature of a variant-rich supply network means risk in a variety of forms can plague companies across the entire value chain, everything from planning and procurement to production and transport logistics.
All this being said, there are a number of strategies, solutions, and principles manufacturing companies can deploy and integrate to reduce the level of risk in a cross-organizational manner that also helps to increase productivity and enhance efficiencies. One of the more integral tools in a manufacturing company’s toolchest is transport logistics. Or, put simply: the coordination of efforts, resources, and personnel to successfully moving products from the production floor to the customer’s front door. It sounds quite basic, yet in an era of varied partner networks and variant-rich production programs, it can actually be a significant challenge for manufacturing companies across an array of industries. But for companies that deploy a successful transport logistics strategy, there are a great many benefits to be experienced beyond simply delivering products during pre-defined delivery windows.
To understand the importance of aligning planning and execution, think about the task of writing a memo or some kind of office communication. What’s the best strategy for effectively communicating ideas to peers? Do you compose the email in one session without filtering what you want to say or the information you want to convey, only then to go back and reread and edit the email at some later date? Or (and perhaps mostly likely, at least for many people), do you compose the email and edit as you go, deleting phrases, substituting words, or changing ideas and adapting the information in the moment as necessary for the best possible communication?
Odds are the most common method of emailing is the latter where edits and alterations are made in real-time as thoughts, ideas, and information hits you during the composing process. Where the first example may be a relic of the past when typewriters or handwritten correspondence was the norm, digital communication and the capacity to edit, rewrite, and revise in the moment means greater maneuverability in creating moments for effective, streamlined, and more productive communication. Where writing and editing/revising were at one time two distinct processes, today these functions are more or less integrated into one function with a greater level of process efficacy.
Modern day supply chain management is often about finding reductions in costs, expenditures, wasted resources, or misallocations in how raw materials are spread across complex manufacturing networks and value chains. But this worldview often neglects or places little value on the fact that supply chains in and of themselves can be a key driver in affecting growth, increasing revenue, creating business moments, and forging new partner networks or footprint expansion.
But, as with almost anything in modern SCM (supply chain management), such achievements are often more easily discussed than realized. However, that doesn’t mean manufacturing companies don’t have the tools necessary to transform their supply streams from merely a vessel of procurement and product distribution into an important vehicle for engineering long-term, sustainable growth and productivity. Forward-thinking planners and managers can, with relatively minor adjustments to their SCM strategy, create a supply stream with the power to not only drive growth and innovation, but also the capacity to generate real revenue for companies in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
Today’s blog entry features thoughts and insights on the connected nature of Industry 4.0 and increased supply chain visibility and agility from Shay Sidner, flexis North America, Inc’s Director of Operations (pictured middle). As a respected thought-leader in the supply chain industry with more than 10 years experience in supply chain software and optimization, here Shay speaks in her own words about how Industry 4.0 connects to visibility and how this development in planning and production programs is the engine which drives modern manufacturing processes.
Ask any manufacturing company planner or manager about the most valuable aspect in effective production planning processes and you’ll hear one thing over and over again: data and reporting. In today’s increasingly digitized supply stream, the ability for companies to quickly, accurately, and efficiently gather data and reporting about any number of production elements from material procurement to job allocation is paramount in helping companies manage a streamlined, productive value stream. As the cliche goes: The devil is in the details, and in modern manufacturing those details are the data and reporting.
This is where the development and proliferation of advanced analytics in the manufacturing landscape has given planners and managers a critical value proposition in making best practice decision-making based on the viability of quality reporting. Because advanced analytics relies in large part on the adoption of intelligent technologies or solutions like Industry 4.0, Big Data, and The Internet of Things (IOT), planners and managers have the ability to put large amounts of data and reporting to work to leverage lean manufacturing principles for greater derived value. The addition of Cloud technology and other centralized data storage platforms further makes advanced analytics a critical element of an integrated reporting solution.
We discussed in a recent blog post the industry-wide debate on the long-term, disruptive power of Big Data in today’s manufacturing landscape. Essentially, the debate boiled down as to whether Big Data was actually a value proposition manufacturing companies could depend on into the future as opposed to a flash-in-the-pan phenomenon that may simply fade as new supply chain management theories and philosophies come into view. While it was clear from our examination Big Data is here to stay, there’s still much to understand about how exactly Big Data fits into an integrated supply stream.
For example, how should manufacturing companies leverage the information, data, analytics, and predictive insights created via Big Data into a competitive advantage? Or, what benefits does Big Data provide planners and managers in terms of reducing supply chain management risks? Lastly, how does Big Data impact the entire production cycle from planning and procurement to transport management and customer relations?