The Marriage of Real-time and Production Planning

Posted by Brian Hoey on Jan 25, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Imagine for a moment that your company is in the businesses of manufacturing parts for both conventional and hybrid vehicles. Based on the demand from your customers over the past year or multiple years, you develop a plan for allocating resources and person-hours to produce the right proportion of hybrid parts to conventional parts based on expected demand. Unexpectedly, a sharp increase in worldwide oil prices triggers a shift in demand away from hybrids and toward conventional automobiles that rely on gasoline. How will your production plans cope with the sudden change? Will your factory floors continue to produce a surplus of hybrid parts while orders for conventional parts go un-filled, or do you have the necessary planning agility to shift production to align with new demand paradigms?

Hopefully, you are in a position to safely assume the latter. But for many complex businesses, rapidly adjusting to demand is a perilously involved tasked, requiring the ability to assess and respond to new circumstances virtually instantaneously. One of the keys to building this level of agility into production processes is the integration of real-time and production planning.

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Topics: Supply Chain Logistics, Digitization, Supply Chain Management

How to Make the Most of the Industry 4.0 Supply Chain

Posted by Brian Hoey on Jan 16, 2018 9:00:00 AM

It’s been said that we should think of scientific revolutions not as revolutions per se, but as paradigm shifts—meaning that, rather than thinking of the great breakthroughs in 20th century physics or medicine as groundbreaking seismic shifts, we should consider them in terms of reorientations of method and changing understandings of old knowledge. The same might well be said of new developments in industry. The rise of automation, for instance, didn’t do away with the use of manpower overnight. Instead, it led us to reconsider the way we utilize people as resources and the way that we structure processes around manual intervention. 

What does this way of thinking mean for how we discuss “the fourth industrial revolution,” i.e. Industry 4.0? Simply put, the tremendous potential benefits of Industry 4.0 won’t happen on their own. Yes, manufacturing as a field will change drastically and factories will become smarter and more reliant on sensors and internet of things (IoT) devices, but companies need to make an active engagement with these changes by learning to rethink their processes and their use of resources across the supply chain. This raises an important question: how can companies make the most of this new paradigm shift? 

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Topics: Intelligent Planning, Industry 4.0, Digitization

Is There an Argument Against Transport Logistics?

Posted by Brian Hoey on Jan 11, 2018 9:00:00 AM

Even with the continuing rise of Industry 4.0, many companies treat transportation scheduling as something of an afterthought. Sure, many businesses have restocking rules and recurring transportation orders that are carried out on identical timetables every set number of weeks or months, but today relatively few manufacturers employ a truly robust solution for scheduling transportation. We’ve spent time on this blog touting the importance of transport logistics, but ours is obviously not the only opinion on the subject. Let’s take a few minutes to discuss some of the potential arguments used against it. 

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Topics: Industry 4.0, Digitization, transport logistics

The Best of 2017: Our Top 5 Blog Posts of the Year

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

As the year draws to a close, we at flexis look forward to a new year's worth of innovation and insight as we renew our commitment to keeping readers informed on the new challenges and solutions that define the ever-changing world of supply chain management. 2018 promises to be even more exciting than its predecessor and we promise to help our readers stay up to date on the arising trends that may impact their businesses. 

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Topics: Industry 4.0, Automotive Industry, Digitization, Supply Chain Management

Can Digitization Eliminate Planning Silos?

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

The title of this blog says it all. Planning silos, even in today’s fairly integrated, optimized supply stream, are still a major challenge for manufacturing companies, especially in variant-rich industries with complex partner-networks. The prospect  of cross-organizational communication and data-sharing in the planning stage of the production cycle remains for too many companies simply that: A prospect, a goal, rather than a standard mode of operation.

But for manufacturing companies who understand and realize its value, digitization can be a critical (or perhaps the critical) tool in eliminating these planning silos and fostering an atmosphere of communication and collaboration during the production planning process. Whether it’s constructing a more efficient, streamlined planning and production scheme or creating enhanced methods of procurement, inventory management, job allocation, and transport logistics, digitization is a supply chain management platform whereby companies can leverage greater efficacy to grow their business, create stronger partner networks, and leverage competitive advantages in an increasingly crowded marketplace.

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Topics: Intelligent Planning, Industry 4.0, Digitization

The Keys To Successful Supply Chain Digitization

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Nov 30, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Digitization. If there’s one major buzzword in today’s global supply logistics, it may be digitization. But the movement toward an end-to-end (E2E) digitally-driven supply stream is more than simply the flavor of the day; rather, it represents a fundamental shift in the way planners and managers oversee and deploy their planning and production processes.

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Topics: Digitization

Does Big Data Have A Place In An Integrated Supply Chain?

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Oct 19, 2017 9:00:00 AM

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?

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Topics: Advanced Analytics, Digitization, Lean Manufacturing

How Integrated Planning Drives Revenue Growth

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Oct 5, 2017 9:00:00 AM

Take a television set from the 1980’s and one from 2017. Sure, both devices will function appropriately and allow you to view your favorite television show or movie, but the set from the 1980’s will clearly have a very limited set of capabilities compared with the one from 2017. The 1980’s set may not even have a remote. The picture will likely be much less clear, more grainy, and ultimately compromised. It may take a few minutes of running before the set functions properly. And odds are the set will be much more prone to malfunctions or breakdowns. On the other hand, the television from 2017 will have a much cleaner, crisper picture, allow for synergy with other applications such as a streaming device, and likely have a much longer lifespan.

In short, the 2017 television set will operate at a much higher level with a more streamlined operational platform for a much longer amount of time. The probability for error will be quite low and the 2017 will work in conjunction with other modern technology.

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Topics: Intelligent Planning, Digitization, Demand Capacity Planning

Artificial Intelligence and the Future of Manufacturing

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Sep 14, 2017 8:00:00 AM

There’s one thing that pops to mind when you ask people about artificial intelligence in the manufacturing industry, particularly in the automotive landscape: Autonomous or driver-assisted cars. And the future of driverless vehicles may in fact arrive sooner than many people think, there’s actually more concrete contexts for artificial intelligence (AI) in today’s manufacturing sphere. AI has the potential to impact the automotive manufacturing supply chain in equally profound and interesting ways beyond the idea of the driverless car. In fact, AI has the potential to be a truly disruptive force in the way automotive manufacturing companies produce vehicles and how the consumer interacts with the end product. 

With AI as an increasingly common technology platform, the manufacturing industry — automotive sector in particular — is set to experience significant changes in the coming years in terms of production and supply chain management. As vehicles become more integrated, individualized, and complex, manufacturing companies will have to leverage more lean methods of production and supply chain logistics to keep pace with the demands of such a variant-rich industry.

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Topics: Industry 4.0, Digitization, Lean Manufacturing

How Machine Learning Impacts Supply Chain Management

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

The manufacturing industry has long relied and functioned on a platform of automation or an automated method of facilitating production programs. The production facility floor is ground zero for how manufacturing companies use robotics or artificial intelligence to streamline production processes and increase the efficiency of how products move from the production floor to the customer’s door. But what’s slowly gaining more and more prominence in the manufacturing industry is machine learning outside of the actual production space and the ways in which a digitized manufacturing platform can enhance supply chain management at every touch point of the value stream.

Understanding machine learning in this context — a holistic reimagination of how this technology can be a disruptive force in a cross-organizational way from sales and procurement to transport logistics — puts machine learning on a grander stage in terms of shaping the future of the automotive supply chain. In addition, machine learning can provide planners and managers with a critical competitive advantage in a somewhat uncertain, variant-rich manufacturing space.

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Topics: Digitization