How Machine Learning Impacts Manufacturing and Logistics

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

Machines are nothing new to the manufacturing industry - in fact, to say that is quite an understatement. Since the Industrial Revolution, the production facility floor has ground zero for how manufacturing companies incorporate non-human elements or intervention into how goods are produced and distributed. Fast-forward to today’s manufacturing landscape and the introduction and proliferation of modern machine-based aspects such as robotics or artificial intelligence to streamline production processes and increase production efficiency is perhaps the most pressing, pertinent issue in modern production processes.

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 both the production and logistics side of global supply chain management. 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: Intelligent Planning, Supply Chain Logistics, Logistics

Why Transport Logistics Really Matter

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Aug 1, 2017 9:00:00 AM

What’s one of the most undervalued elements in creating E2E supply chain visibility? It might surprise you, but this overlooked aspect of supply chain management is perhaps one of the most critical ingredients in how companies successfully move material supply to the production floor and finished products to the customer’s door. Of course, we’re talking about transportation.

That’s right, transport logistics, while perhaps underutilized, is a significant driver in how manufacturing companies administer, oversee, and evaluate the overall health, sustainability, and efficiency of their supply situation. It’s somewhat difficult to understand why transport logistics often gets lost in the fray of global supply chain management. Perhaps it’s because more emphasis is placed on operations at earlier stages in the value chain such as planning and procurement. Or perhaps it’s because the facilitating of effective production programs is often at the forefront of the minds of planners and managers. Either way, transport logistics, though often neglected, can either be a significant boon or detriment to how effective a manufacturing company conducts itself.

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Topics: Transportation Management, Supply Chain Logistics, Logistics, Lean Manufacturing

What Is A Truly Digitized Supply Chain?

Posted by Nick Ostdick on May 23, 2017 9:00:00 AM

The term digitization pops up again and again as a critical value proposition for companies to leverage growth and viability in today’s manufacturing industry. The trouble is, many manufacturing companies don’t truly understand what is meant by a digitized supply chain. Is a digitized supply chain simply swapping outdated technology for the latest and greatest technological platforms? Is it merely a system of systems and solutions with the ability to communicate with each other? Or it a complete redefining of supply chain management to optimize processes and streamline planning and production strategies?

In fact, the digitized supply chain is comprised of a little of each of these statements. A completely digitized supply chain does rely on intelligent, integrated solutions rather than manual inputs or human intervention; the digital supply chain does incorporate advanced systems capable of communicating and data sharing for optimal workflows; and a digitized supply chain is a holistic reimagination of how manufacturing companies operate their supply chain management strategies from procurement to the production floor to the customer’s front door.

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Topics: Intelligent Planning, Supply Chain Logistics, Logistics, Digitization, Supply Chain Management

Meet the Team: An Interview with Melroy De Souza

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Dec 6, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Today on the flexis blog we take a moment to chat with flexis team member Melroy De Souza in a new series titled Meet the Team. The goal of these posts is to introduce readers to critical members of the flexis team to learn more about what they do, why they do it, and how they work within the organization to establish flexis as a crucial thought-leader in today’s automotive supply chain.

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Topics: Automotive Industry, Logistics

4 Benefits of An Integrated Supply Chain

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Oct 11, 2016 9:00:00 AM

People. Processes. Infrastructure. Capacities.

In today’s global automotive industry, supply chains function most efficiently when all the major elements are integrated from end-to-end. Because so much of the modern supply stream consists of disparate production networks, complex partnerships, and markets and customer pools spread out across the globe, the ability to coordinate the people, processes, and products critical to effective supply chain management is key in such a variant-rich industry.

Of course, as with any principle or concept, it’s important to understand what supply chain integration truly means. Full supply chain integration means much more than simply managing the movement of materials and resources and addressing logistical issues thereof. Rather, supply chain integration means an acknowledgement that production stages of the supply chain must exchange data, and analytics, and time-sensitive information in real-time with other points in the supply network.  

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Topics: Supply Chain Logistics, Supply Chain Planning, Logistics, Lean Manufacturing

Debunking 3 Common Intermodal Shipping Myths

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Aug 25, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In a recent entry, we discussed the ins, outs, and benefits of leveraging LTL (less than truckload) shipping in the automotive supply chain as a critical driver in reducing freight costs, increasing efficiency, and enhancing visibility and agility from the production line to delivery at the customer’s doorstep. We also briefly looked at why some supply chain planners and managers are still reluctant to embrace LTL as a viable method of transportation management, dispelling some misconceptions about LTL as a key value proposition in today’s global supply landscape.

Today, in something of a part II of that discussion, we’ll examine another freight management strategy and its potential impact for companies seeking to optimize their transportation management via reducing costs and increasing productivity and reliability. Intermodal shipping, which has been viewed in the past as a problematic strategy for the movement of products, has in recent years become an increasingly viable and valuable component of a company’s freight platform.

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Topics: Transportation Management, Logistics, Lean Manufacturing

Looking Ahead: Predictive Analytics and Supply Chain Visibility

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Aug 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Imagine trying to drive a car down the street using the rear view mirror as your only method of navigation. You can’t actually look forward to see where you’re going, what lies ahead, or how to successfully get where you need to be - instead, all you can do is look backwards at where you’ve already been and make your best guess as to how to keep moving forward without causing a horrible wreck.

Sounds incredibly difficult, right? Yet this is the situation many OEMs and automotive manufacturers find themselves in when striving to create accurate forecasting and planning based solely on descriptive analytic models - data that merely paints a portrait as to the current state and productivity of the supply chain - rather than predictive analytic models, which have in recent years been a value-added proposition for OEMs in fostering efficient demand planning for future production programs.

Predictive analytics, with its reliance primarily on Big Data, essentially provides OEMs with a windshield for enhanced end-to-end visibility in order to better see how agile, transparent, and responsive their value chain is, and what steps needs to be taken in order to modify or alter production and supply practices to create an optimized future supply stream.

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Topics: Supply Chain Planning, Logistics, Supply Chain Trends, Supply Chain Management, Demand Capacity Planning

Go for the Green: Sustainability in Transportation Management

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Aug 2, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Here’s a staggering statistic: A 2010 report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) found roughly three-quarters of greenhouse gas emissions in the manufacturing industry originate in the supply chain. That’s about 75 percent. In addition, the report also found an estimated 50 percent of total expenses and greenhouse gas emissions stemmed from the manufacturing supply chain industry, which makes for a great deal of both resource investment and harm to the global environment at the hand of manufacturing and supply companies.

What’s perhaps most startling about this stat is that it’s more than 5 years old and doesn’t take into account the rise in emerging markets and regions in today’s automotive supply stream. In an industry that is increasingly becoming more competitive and crowded, it’s not a far cry to imagine these numbers have, if not worsened, remained consistent during these last five years, and many industry analysts believe the supply chain’s negative impact on the environment will only worsen unless manufacturers and suppliers take significant steps to curb their carbon footprint.

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Topics: Transportation Management, Logistics, Lean Manufacturing

Playing in Perfect Harmony: The Importance of E2E Visibility

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Jun 23, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Ever listen to a great orchestra or symphony perform a classic piece of music? If so, then you’ll know how crucial the balance and delicate interplay between each instrument is in creating a harmonious sound that achieves a certain artistic goal or elicits a desired emotional response.

Each part must be played with precision and an uncanny sense of timing, and the musicians must know the piece of music like the back of their hand in order to add complexity and depth to the overall piece of music rather than subtract.

Just like a great symphony, much of the precision, accuracy, efficiency, and insight is true for the automotive manufacturing and supply landscape in an effort to create end-to-end (E2E) visibility across a company’s entire value chain. Such visibility is critical in cutting through the complexity of today’s global supply network and leveraging best practices to ensure the right products arrive at the right place at the right time in the right quantities. Obviously, this is not only crucial to keep up with demand and planned production schedules, but it’s also integral in reducing waste, increasing efficiency, and enhancing communication and collaboration at each touch point in the supply chain.

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Topics: Planned Production Programs, Logistics, End-to-End (E2E) Visibility

Insights from the Future - Maintenance Management

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Jun 16, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Periodically throughout the year, we invite flexis team members to write brief blog entries about some of the most pressing, complex, and interesting conversations currently taking place in today’s global production and supply chain industry. The goal of these entries is to provide insight into these discussions from an insider’s perspective and to get an idea about what’s on the mind of today’s supply chain professionals.

Our first entry comes to us from Hansjörg Tutsch, Vice President of Research for flexis AGwho discusses the importance, opportunity, and challenges of maintenance management for today's manufacturers. 

Maintenance management in many manufacturing companies still means the planning and execution of necessary or routine maintenance measures. But even so, these concerns are often placed behind the requirements of production. Depending on the industry, between 15 and 40 percent of all production costs can be allotted to production-related maintenance tasks, which significantly impacts the productivity and competitiveness of a company. With annual sales volumes upwards of $250 billion, the maintenance sector plays a much larger role in the macroeconomics of manufacturing compared to other industry sectors.

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Topics: Logistics, Lean Manufacturing