Connecting the Dots: A Mid-Year Review of 2016 Trends

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

Back at the beginning of the year, we discussed the most likely trends for 2016 in the automotive supply chain industry and how these developments would shape the landscape of production and supply for the next 12 months and beyond. Now, as we’ve passed the halfway point of 2016, we thought it would be interesting to revisit our predictions and review which ones have come to fruition and how these trends have impacted day-to-day operations in the manufacturing and supply stream.

Like we discussed in that initial blog entry, each new year brings fresh opportunities and obstacles for supply chain planners and managers in maximizing efficiency, containing costs, and maintaining steady growth. But as we’ve seen in the first half of 2016 alone with the passage of the TPP, the Brexit movement, increased manufacturing presences in Mexico, and other geopolitical and economic developments, the production and supply playing field can vary from month to month or even week to week.

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Topics: End-to-End (E2E) Visibility, Supply Chain Trends, Demand Capacity Planning

3 Myths About Every Part Every Interval

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Jun 21, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Last week I took my daughter to the community pool for a swim and got a first-hand lesson in the importance of one of the most complex processes in today’s automotive production and supply chain. Yes, I know this seems odd, but stay with me.

We were in line for the pool’s tallest water slide watching the lifeguard at the entrance motion kids into position, check to see the previous rider had made it down the slide and was safely out of the way of the slide’s exit, and then give the next rider the green light to head down the chute. It was a delicate process of allocating when each rider is allowed to go so as to keep kids safe from harm but also to avoid a huge back-up of eager riders that very well could result in dissatisfied patrons because of the extended wait time.

My daughter picked up on this right away, especially when I was becoming impatient with how slow the line was moving. She said the lifeguard couldn’t make the line move any faster because otherwise somebody could get hurt - if one rider goes while the previous rider is still in the slide, a collision could occur, which could result in serious injury and an even bigger breakdown in the flow of the line.

Still with me? Good, because the principles in this anecdote are essentially the same principles in play with Every Part Every Interval (EPEI), which is perhaps one of the most underutilized schools of thought in today’s global supply chain management.

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Topics: Planned Production Programs, Supply Chain Trends, Lean Manufacturing

On the Move: Why Mexico Is The Hot Spot in Supply Logistics

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Apr 26, 2016 9:00:00 AM

It wasn’t too long ago when the epicenter of growth and excitement in the automotive production and supply chain sphere was Asia. China, Korea, and other neighboring countries were at the forefront of innovation and expansion for OEMs and suppliers looking to stake their claim in the increasing global supply network. And while this conception of Asia as the next frontier in manufacturing and supply logistics still persists, industry insiders are quickly coming to realize Mexico is in fact the next hot spot in the automotive supply landscape.

If you’re still shaking your head at the prospect of Mexico as the place to be in the automotive manufacturing and demand world, consider these startling statistics. As of the end of 2015, Mexico was the world’s 8th largest automaker and the 4th largest exporter of parts and components for the global automotive industry. Light vehicle production hit 3.4 million units in 2015 and analysts predict that number will increase to roughly 5 million units by 2020. 

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Topics: Supply Chain Trends, Supply Chain Management

Cloud Computing in Global Supply Chain Management

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Apr 7, 2016 9:00:00 AM

In a recent entry about the hurdles supply chain planners and mangers may face in 2016, we discussed the implementation of new technologies and how companies that embrace these advancements in supply chain logistics automation will see greater levels of connectivity and collaboration across all points of the supply network. Key technology drivers industry-wide such as The Internet of Things, Industry 4.0, Big Data, and In-Memory Data are forcing companies to rethink end-to-end supply practices to achieve greater responsiveness and agility.

Cloud computing, though sadly still something of a novelty to many within the supply landscape, not only encourages increased connectivity through the accessibly of information and data, but it can also be an important tool in leveraging a more efficient global supply chain management strategy, especially when it comes to supply logistics in booming industries such as the automotive sector, which is currently seeing massive expansion into new and emerging markets due to the low costs of fuel and transportation.


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Topics: Supply Chain Trends, Supply Chain Management

Moving Beyond the Bill: Rethinking BOM

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Apr 5, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Go into any chef’s kitchen and you’ll find books of them. They’re scribbled on note cards, torn from magazine articles, printed off from the internet. They’re perhaps just as important as a properly sharpened knife or well cared for sauce pan. We’re talking about recipes - the list and proper amount of ingredients, instructions for preparation, and notes on special techniques. Without recipes, chefs would be lost when creating meals for customers.

Just as recipes are an important tool for chefs in running a successful lunch or dinner service, so is the Bill of Materials (BOM) for manufacturers and supply chain planners. Without a BOM, companies would be lost when it comes to the overall lifecycle of a product - everything from conception, production, distribution, shipping, and delivery.

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Topics: Supply Chain Trends, Supply Chain Management

TPP and Supply Chain Agility: What You Need to Know

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 29, 2016 9:00:00 AM

One of the biggest and still most mysterious headlines of 2015 was the approval of the Trans Pacific Partnership this last October. The 12-country agreement was finally reached after more than seven years of negotiations, creating a more open trade network for goods services and to promote worldwide growth in manufacturing and labor.

The agreement will lift restrictions on trade between the member countries – including Peru, Vietnam, Mexico, Japan, and others – and will allow for easier trade, simplified taxation and tariffs, and greater transparency of the transfer of goods and services between countries.

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Topics: Supply Chain Trends

5 Steps for Creating a More Sustainable Supply Chain

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 24, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Several of our more recent articles have examined the newest trends innovating today’s global supply chain industry. From the Internet of Things to Industry 4.0, much of the latest thinking about supply chain efficiency and visibility has involved a significant scale up in terms of the technology supply chain planners and managers use on a daily basis. Yet one of the most forward-thinking trends finding traction in the supply landscape actually involves something of a scale down in terms of the supply chain’s environmental impact.

The idea of sustainability – a holistic view of supply logistics and technology that focusses on environmentally and socially responsible practices beyond accuracy of inventory, delivery, and data reporting and analysis – has in recent years become more crucial to end-to-end supply stream visibility, transparency, and agility.

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Topics: Supply Chain Trends

How In-Memory Databases Can Solve Supply Chain Problems

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 3, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Ask any supply chain planner (SCP) or manager about their most pressing needs and you’ll hear the same thing again and again: “I need the ability to view up-to-the minute information at all points along the supply chain using integrated data from different sources to forecast and prevent any potential bottlenecks or slow-downs.”

And the savviest SCP might also toss in: “Oh, I’d like to be able to share this information in real-time with others in the supply chain process, or perhaps even with my sales reps.”

Sounds like this SCP is asking a lot, right?

As companies expand globally, supply hubs are established in new and more remote parts of the world, and the need for more advanced supply chain logistics and reporting becomes more and more important, this SCP may discover new or different needs in order to maintain a sustainable return on investment (ROI), reduce costs, and promote growth across the company.

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Topics: Intelligent Planning, Supply Chain Trends

Supply Chains and Industry 4.0: The Perfect Match?

Posted by Nick Ostdick on Mar 1, 2016 9:00:00 AM

Industry 4.0.

Sure, it sounds like something straight out of a science-fiction movie, but major technological advancements in manufacturing and industrial fabrication – especially throughout Europe, and particularly in Germany – have made the Industry 4.0 concept less fictive and more scientific in revolutionizing the automotive manufacturing industry.

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Topics: Industry 4.0, Supply Chain Trends

Recurrent vs. Disruptive Supply Chain Risks

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

It’s easy for supply chain planners and managers to get swept up in the daily operations of keeping products moving, monitoring inventory, and tracking shipments to ensure on-time delivery in the proper quantity. And while these tasks are all essential in the functionality and performance of a profitable supply network, planners and managers also need to focus on the risk of supply chain breakdowns, be it recurrent or disruptive, and the potential consequences of not being prepared to handle them.

A study conducted this past summer by the University of Tennessee indicated that only about 50 percent of companies have a backup plan in place should a major supply disruption occur, with roughly 47 percent admitting they have no contingency plans as part of their supply chain logistics practice.

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Topics: Supply Chain Trends