Seeing is Believing: The Importance of Monitoring Solutions
Nick Ostdick - July 14, 2016
I recently attended a panel discussion on the logistical hurdles of creating or enhancing visibility in the automotive supply chain industry, and one of the panelists likened such a task to that of a submarine wherein a periscope allows the captain to see clearly where the sub is headed and make necessary corrections without surfacing, while at the same time continuing to move forward on a predefined course.
It’s an interesting analogy and one that applies readily to the value proposition of monitoring solutions for planned production programs, particularly in variant-rich industries or across multiple production facilities in disparate locations or regions - which, in today’s diverse, global production cycle, is often the case. Monitoring solutions, with the capacity to take data and reporting beyond the conceptualization stage to real-time visualization, are crucial in helping supply chain planners and managers interpret production elements like inventory levels, production scheduling, overall cost-efficiency, and facility management. Graphic representations of these factors also allow for mass distribution and in-depth analysis across all touch points of a company’s value chain.
But as with many of today’s intelligent, automated production and supply solutions, there are myths and misunderstandings about how these platforms actually foster more cost-efficient, communicative, and collaborative processes. Yet much like the aforementioned panelists submarine analogy, hopefully the following discussion will help crystallize just how much of a core driver monitoring solutions are in creating a truly visible, lean, and agile supply network.
Monitoring Solutions Defined
While other intelligent production solutions like Plan for Every Part, Every Part Every Interval, or BOM management rely more on actions and reactions planners and managers can take to increase efficiencies and enhance production management, monitoring solutions pivot more on generating graphic representations to foster best practices in planned production and avoid potential supply bottlenecks or breakdowns.
Through processes like BOM explosion - which is essentially more or less the backbone of monitoring solutions - planners can view and monitor, review, analyze, and modify a number of factors in planned production programs including:
- Necessary part and part families for each individual customer order.
- The connection or link between part families and planned production programs.
- Inventory of day’s supply and part availability.
- Production scheduling and other issues related to production timetables and delivery dates.
Greater visibility into these areas of concern provide companies with a greater degree of stability in order processing, production scheduling, and demand planning. In addition, monitoring solutions can use these elements to create graphic representations of actionable data and reporting for early detection and strategizing to combat delivery disruptions, material overages and shortages, facility capacities and capabilities, and breakdowns in the movement of parts and components from a supplier, the yard, or dock to the production facility.
While monitoring focuses primarily on production schedules and parts availability, companies can also leverage this solution to streamline transit processes and movement of parts between locations or from factory to customer. Because of the enhanced visibility into production schedules and benchmarks of progress, planners can predict with high degrees of accuracy how long the current inventory and inflow of inventory will meet demands, as well as which orders may be impacted by bottlenecks. This allows for planners to create attainable delivery schedules and timetables to ensure customer satisfaction.
Value of Monitoring Solutions
Distilling the value proposition of monitoring solutions into one word is not a challenging task: stability. In today’s global, complex supply stream, companies need greater insight into production and supply networks to cut through the intricacies of supply parts and products to customers or markets across all corners of the globe. In what can be a very unstable undertaking, monitoring solutions really provide planners with peace of mind in planning, production, supply, and customer relations.
In leveraging monitoring solutions, companies can expect a high return on investment (ROI) through:
- Continued transparency of actual, real-life supply situations - Monitoring solutions graphically visualize and determine points of potential supply disruption or the possibility and source of inequities in the levels of supply or inventory relative to current production needs. This capability allows planners to modify current production schedules and gauge the level of inventory necessary to keep pace with those current production programs.
- Early detection of bottlenecks and targeted counteracting - Allowing for a detailed display of customer orders and the parts of production responsible for breakdowns in the production cycle, planners and managers can utilize targeted counteracting strategies to course correct and return optimal functionality to planned production programs. In addition, planners can access crucial data about the status of orders impacted by bottlenecks and decide on the best course of action to rectify this issue.
- Enhanced overall stability through greater insight into the functionality of the entire value chain. Increased transparency at all touch points of a company’s entire value stream helps heighten the reliability and efficiency of production practices and promotes cost-effective decision-making in terms of processing orders, demand planning, production, and delivery. This capability can also help companies leverage more financially viable strategies by decreasing a number of costly production safeguards like safety stock.
When it comes to creating a truly lean, visible supply chain, seeing is believing. Planners and managers must be able to peer into a supply network's inner workings to identify pain points, areas of potential breakdowns, and growth and efficiency opportunities to remain competitive and sustainable in an increasingly complex industry. Monitoring solutions give companies the power to understand their own processes and to refine them for the greatest possible benefit in both the short and long-term future.