Container Management and Sequencing: The Perfect Pair?

Posted by Nick Ostdick on May 19, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Container_Management.jpgIn our last post, we discussed the benefits of container management strategy and solutions, the relationship between push and pull within the sphere of container management, and how companies can best leverage this value proposition in creating a more lean, efficient supply network. Today we continue our look at container management with a particular emphasis on the relationship between the management of containers and sequencing, and how these two concepts work hand-in-hand in fostering visibility and transparency across all points of the value stream.

In discussing the relationship and value proposition between container management and optimized sequencing solutions, let’s revisit our home cook example from our previous post, but let’s also add in a few new elements to help highlight this new relationship and explain how it’s a key driver in effective and scalable supply chain logistics.

Instead of just one home cook preparing a meal for a handful of guests based on certain constraints and restrictions, imagine this dinner party is taking place at several different homes throughout the night. This means, at any given time, there are multiple cooks preparing multiple meals requiring different ingredients, tools or utensils, and cooking methods. Imagine also that a small delivery van and driver has been assigned to drop-off said ingredients at each different home. Decisions about the order in which the driver makes deliveries, which ingredients get dropped-off, in what quantities, and the best way to load and unload the van to expedite this process will have to be made to combat potential bottlenecks in the cooking process.

Can you see a parallel here?

In the automotive manufacturing industry, planned production is often taking place at several facilities on different scales with varying constraints, schedules, delivery timetables, and other factors. The ability of an OEM to transport and distribute the right parts at the right time to align with production schedules, coupled with the capacity for complete visibility with container and yard management to secure proper inventory and movement of necessary parts, is critical in driving a productive supply stream free of disruptions.

Sequencing: A Review

We recently discussed in a two-part blog series the importance and value of integrated sequencing solutions and how companies can leverage these solutions in operating a lean supply stream.  Automotive manufacturers have to worry about the most efficient, cost-effective strategy for processing orders through an optimized assembly structure while accounting for sudden changes in rules and constraints - much like the strategy for fitting a sofa onto the truck with room for other household items.

Sequencing software solutions provide manufacturers with the power and tools to take control of their order pools and assembly line processes through analysis, modeling, and evaluation of actions. As variant rich production facilities become more and more the norm, manufacturers require quick, easy to implement solutions to create workflows designed for specific projects and orders.

Sequencing solutions include the generation of an optimized, digital assembly sequence from a pool of existing orders, which allows for alterations to the ordering of production  in light of new rules or constraints. In addition, sequencing solutions allow for the synergy and collaboration across a company’s various manufacturing, planning, and scheduling platforms by making data and reporting available to all concerned parties in real-time.

Now that we’ve brushed up on how sequencing plays into lean supply logistics and the value for manufacturers in creating ultimate visibility, let’s look at how sequencing and container management feed into each other in operating an efficient, productive supply stream.

Container Management and Sequencing

As we discussed in part 1 of this series, container management solutions create complete visibility for planned production based on new constraints and production variables; allows for real-time glimpses and detailed reporting on supply and inventory levels across all points of the value chain; and provides planners with the capability to evaluate and select specified containers based on actual conditions or production constraints.

Additionally, an optimized container solution allows those within the supply stream to identify potential bottlenecks and respond accordingly to combat these product shortages and secure sufficient part quantities to ensure coverage for planned and altered production parameters.

If sequencing is the method by which manufacturers essentially plan, execute, analyze, and modify production processes to fit constraints or parameters related to location, facility capacity and other factors, it makes sense that container management - or the process by which manufacturers oversee where parts or products are in a certain container within the yard and the quantity required for production versus the quantity for warehouse inventory - functions hand-in-hand to provide supply planners and managers with a complete 360 degree view of the supply and production process.

Integrating optimized sequencing and container management solutions gives planners the power to make production and supply decisions in real-time based on actionable data to fulfill orders, manage warehouse inventory, allocate parts and products for efficient production, and review current production strategies across a number of facilities.

By combining optimized container management and sequencing strategies, planners can expect a seamless integration of production and supply logistics to engender consistency, flexibility, and productivity at all touch points of the supply chain, which is a key driver in remaining competitive, profitable, and growth-oriented in today’s increasingly global supply network.

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Topics: Supply Chain Planning, Container Management, Production Control