In an effort to further our understanding of the most pressing issues and concerns in global supply chain management, today we’re featuring a brief Q&A with flexis Project Manager Dr. Siegfried Kraft.
A highly-regarded supply chain expert, Kraft works to help manufacturing companies who partner with flexis function as efficiently and profitably as possible. As you’ll read below, Kraft offers some interesting takes on flexis as a thought-leader in the production and supply industry, as well as his thoughts on the direction of global supply logistics and how flexis is uniquely positioned to achieve success in both the short and long-term.
Nick Ostdick: Can you talk a little about flexis’ position in the global supply chain industry and its mission and goals in the products you provide?
Dr. Siegfried Kraft: Flexis is about enabling manufacturers to do smart planning and scheduling in the end-to-end supply chain. It covers collaborative business, sales and operations planning capabilities on a corporate level all the way down to advanced scheduling capabilities on a plant shop-floor, machine and container level.
What’s driving us is the deep process expertise of the supply chain business, combined with the vision that our technology can make these processes better. Our digital tools for planning, analytics and improved decision making become embedded in the planning and execution processes of large companies. This requires a real deep long-term connection to both the business users and the IT architects at our customers. Simply speaking flexis’ goal is about ‘doing good’ as the outcome. What counts is the successful deployment of our solutions at our customers.
Can you discuss the current state of the supply chain industry, and where you think the industry is headed in the future?
The planning and execution processes in the supply chain become more integrated, event-driven and responsive, while products get highly proliferated in global manufacturing networks. Today’s supply chain planning is about scale, stability and efficiency. Tomorrow’s supply chains need to be flexible and adaptable. Supply chain management constantly orchestrates the product engineering, sales, marketing and manufacturing functions. Supply chain planners need to take ‘what-if’ perspectives that span across the functional silos. Good plans need to balance conflicting objectives in the supply chain from a total cost perspective. Agile supply chains can quickly adapt to optimal and feasible plans based on the current context. The planning side is closely connected to the execution to respond to any changes in demand or supply.
The promises of digitalization are out there. However, transforming the supply chain planning business in this environment is a tough place to be. We as flexis have to be a good partner for our customers in this. We need to help them to advance their supply chain process with our ideas and solutions, however, we need to listen carefully as to how that fits into their existing process and IT landscape. On that level, every company has its own level of maturity and its own challenges.
flexis has a large and fairly diverse customer-base. How does flexis tailor its solutions to best fit the needs of each customer given this diversity?
Looking beyond the traditional ERP systems, there is no one-size-fits-all standard solution anymore. BTO, BTS, ETO models and the hybrids of those all have their specifics. Our modular product design provides components that can rapidly be applied for tailored solutions. Today, optimizing operational plans, schedules, transportation and production slots sometimes requires high-tech tools and algorithms. And still, the digital tools need to be simple and flexible in the front –end, such that the supply chain planners can model and simulate the required trade-offs in the supply chain.
With our automotive in-memory technology, we can deliver the near-real time capabilities these planners need. Our ‘what-if’ capabilities enable them to make better, collaborative decisions. Our real-time services (such as BoM explosion and implosion) allow for parallel planning to drastically reduce the time-latency of the traditional, sequential system process. Our solutions are fully web-enabled for mobile devices for today’s and tomorrow’s workplaces of supply chain planners. In this regard, the need for such capabilities is common across our diverse customer base.
What have been a few of the landmark moments in flexis’ history? What elements of the company and its work are you most proud of?
Winning new customers creates magic moments for flexis. Entering new industry segments created landmark moments for flexis: the truck industry, the car industry, material handling manufacturers, powertrains, automotive T1 supplier industry. It is exciting for flexis to win trustful long-term relationships and to see our technology to become an integral part of their business. I am proud of flexis as a smaller company being able to win awards out there from our giant clients or for helping them and enabling them to win awards in their Industry through the deployment of our solutions. I am inspired by the teams and the projects. I am inspired by the outcome that they have delivered over time. The challenge and the secret in our business is to build great teams to help gradually transform business in the world of supply chains.