At this year’s Supply Chain and Logistics Expo, held in Atlanta, logistics professionals and technology vendors traded ideas with attendees. Discussions focused on exchanging information across supply chains to better manage resources. Here’s a sampling of wisdom exchanged during and between conference sessions.
Rules & regs
“The global supply chain is becoming more complex than ever. Automakers are breaking down traditional barriers in the way they’re doing business. An OEM could get a customer order in Ohio for a car; its plant in Brazil will assemble the car; the engine is manufactured in Germany; the Germans will assign subassemblies to a contract manufacturer in India, and the Indian manufacturer gets raw castings from Australia.
“The rules and regulations of global trade are also getting more complex. One company may make a valve that you would typically find in plumbing systems. But what if this valve is made of material that would be suitable for use in a nuclear reactor? Even though a manufacturer is selling a valve that would typically be used in industrial applications, because this valve can be used in the production and development of military systems, it can be restricted by license. Companies are finding they need licenses on products they had no idea they needed them for.”
Steve Stallings, senior director of sales consulting, Xporta
“A good hierarchical system gives you feedback. At the strategic level you’re planning infrastructure, at the tactical level you’re planning how to use your existing infrastructure. At the operational levels you are executing.
“This provides a unified framework for aggregating performance measures such as supply chain flexibility. If your capacity requirements change by 20 percent, how quickly can you change your supply chain to adjust? Supply chain planning has to incorporate a hierarchy of time horizons and decisions. There’s not always this recognition of these levels of planning and they tend to blend together. That can lead to confusion and less than optimal decisions, so there is merit in laying out your framework and how various collaborators work together. In that sense you have to focus on integrated systems both within and across hierarchies. If you have one planning department doing annual planning and another that does strategic planning, and someone else doing daily planning, if they don’t interact a lot, chances are there will be many differences.
“Invest in decision support capability across the organization. You need that in business planning, not just IT.”
Tan Miller, director of distribution planning, Pfizer Pharmaceuticals
Integrated process flow
“You may have one of every application but still not have a unifying process. You might have real money tied up in inventory somewhere on the network, but can’t see it in motion. You may barely see it at rest. An integrated process flow to address that deals with global logistics, inventory management and ERP systems. You may have processes that involve manufacturing decisions, converting a product from one state to another state. There are pure inventory visibility applications, but I can’t do anything with visibility unless I bring it back into a process model and prompt people to engage that visibility so they can do something with it. This is a network business process. It’s not my version of the process talking to your version; we’re working together in a common process on a network that we participate in together.”
Paul Strzelec, vice president, marketing, NewView Technologies Inc.
“Now is a good time to get the basics of the supply chain changed over to new and improved. Change internal business processes by eliminating parallel options and replace outdated practices. Also demand functional leadership for all Information Technology rollouts. Ownership and participation across the company are essential for success. Technology initiatives must be aligned with corporate business strategies.”
Keynote speaker, James Macioce, COO, GE Global eXchange Services
“Collaboration planning and forecasting must be part of planning the business. It can’t be done separately of ERP and other business systems. This often means, though, that a business’ organizational structure must change to become more customer focused.”
Raz Caciula, Unilever Household and Personal Care
The new OPS Outbound Productivity Suite software interfaces with current ERP, homegrown or WMS software. It takes over from business software’s putaway and location tracking features to provide distribution fulfillment to the shipping dock. It ensures that various automated picking methods that can use pick-to-light, carousels, RF-carts or terminal-directed picking all work together to deliver the various parts of an order at about the same time to the shipping dock — even when using all those technologies simultaneously.
Tom Legaly, vice president, sales and marketing for FKI Logistex
The new iristaWare Version 8.3 software suite has new integration software to support JAVA Message Service between the suite’s WMS, TMS and visibility software modules and the buyer’s ERP or other order management software. Changes include:
• Improved expiration date and incubation processing.
• Automated cycle couting and replenishment using new filters and scheduling functions.
• An iristaTransport module that embeds FedEx’s 6.11 Powership function, eliminating the need for a separate Powership server. Included are updated compliance labels and manifests to support FedEx US Origin to US.
• A UPS Host Access Version 7.0 that allows high-volume shippers with multiple locations to centralize UPS rating, routing guidelines and electronic manifesting while distributing the printing of shipping documents and compliance labels.
• Improved LTL and truckload planning features.
Doug Erikson, vice president sales for irista
— Reported by Tom Andel, Leslie Langnau and Christopher Trunk
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