Six key supply chain links
Outstanding customer service sets the standard for companies to differentiate their value proposition around the world. As oil prices remain low, a chain reaction has opened up opportunities to improve margins and strengthen market position. Managing the unknown more effectively and being more flexible across an organisation will reap greater rewards.
With increasing pressure to respond to demand and provide quality products on time, smart businesses are optimising six key supply chain areas and embracing cutting-edge software to achieve competitive advantage.
By being more demand-driven, business can maximise market potential while mitigating risk. To do this effectively, organisations must address six key links in the supply chain to achieve best practices:
1. Improve customer service
Customer service levels are measured by on-time shipments of the right quality product in the appropriate quantity.
2. Decrease inventory
Demand-driven companies are able to optimise their inventory and reduce inventory buffers, which are typically kept at higher levels than necessary in order to maintain good customer service levels.
3. Optimise production
Production lines need to perform smoothly to ensure batch product quality is maintained within specifications. Having an effective supply chain management system that can optimise batch sequencing means production is more likely to run efficiently, less time is spent in setups and clean-outs, and delays or disruptions can be addressed proactively, before they can impact customer orders or incur unnecessary expedited transportation costs.
4. Be agile
The ability to respond quickly to planned and unplanned supply chain shocks (i.e. equipment failures, raw material availability, labour shortage, stock-outs, unexpected demands, new orders, etc.) is essential to remaining profitable. By being equipped to analyse different responses to the unexpected, companies can choose the most appropriate response to issues and take corrective action that secures plant profits and meets customer contracts.
5. Reduce costs
Procurement, working capital, inventory storage, distribution and labour are key areas to potentially reduce supply chain costs.
6. Manage materials
Managing fluctuating raw material costs is important in order to set the right price expectations to customers. Robust planning and effective communications will protect customer relationships, which can have a significant impact on margins.
Completing the chain
Cutting-edge, end-to-end supply chain software improves forecasting, enables greater collaboration and assists with customer prioritisation. Empowering operations with easy to use planning and scheduling tools facilitates better decision-making to respond quickly to disruptions in plant operations.
Many companies have adopted AspenTech’s supply chain software solutions as the link to optimise end-to-end supply chain capabilities. Aspen Supply Chain Planner can navigate supply chain complexity and identify problems in the plan that needs urgent attention. The intuitive interface enables planning to be performed easily so that planners can determine the optimal production plan and maximise the potential of assets across the network. Using powerful analysis capabilities, planners can develop and evaluate an unlimited number of ‘what-if’ scenarios to quickly optimise inventory management, minimise transportation costs and balance supply with demand. This can be done knowing that the software tools accurately model production activities with sufficient fidelity to allow the Planner to accurately and realistically evaluate alternatives.
Aspen Plant Scheduler is a dynamic tool that enables schedulers to react to operational changes within minutes. Crucially, schedulers can personalise their workspace, simultaneously view inventory levels and immediately see the impact of changes for a common group of production activities or facilities. This greater visibility means they have access to information they need to gain detailed insights into production scheduling, such as raw material availability, equipment constraints, batch dependencies and, ultimately, make better decisions to manage the plant schedule more effectively.
In addition, the Campaign Manager feature in Aspen Plant Scheduler can be used to easily define preferred sequences for each production facility, enabling the entire sequence to be scheduled all at once when appropriate for a particular asset.
Profitable value chain
Many companies survive based upon their ability to react quickly to market forces and offer added value, such as impeccable service, quality products and on-time deliveries. Therefore, they require knowledge of best practices and on-going innovation to help differentiate their business and stand out from the competition.
Having a holistic view of the supply chain network means it is possible to build an optimal procurement, production, distribution and inventory plan, which will profitably meet customer demands. With integrated planning and scheduling software, plant complexity is mitigated and key decision-makers can easily analyse all costs and constraints to ensure a globally optimal plan.
To meet financial targets, integrated supply chain software helps companies cut costs and produce products faster and more efficiently to meet demand. By focusing on asset optimisation and tackling the six key areas of best practice, companies can gain the upper hand and significantly improve customer service across the entire value chain.
Laura Rokohl is Supply Chain Manager at AspenTech
People Moves: Kuehne+Nagel, Asuccini, Algo
Was: Managing Director, Kuehne+Nagel India
Now: Managing Director, Kuehne+Nagel Singapore and Malaysia
Skilled in freight forwarding, logistics management, and international logistics, Peer Gjeow Rasmussen has worked for almost two decades to make Kuehne+Nagel a global leader in supply chain. With experience in Thailand, China, Denmark, the USA, and India, Rasmussen is poised to excel in the company’s diverse Singapore and Malaysia divisions. Said Jens Drewes, President of Kuehne+Nagel Asia-Pacific: "Peer’s proven leadership will ensure continued strategic growth and success."
Was: SVP Supply Chain, NBC Universal
Now: Chief Customer Success Officer, Algo
Heidi Turk has been named Chief Customer Success Officer at Algo, a leading supply chain intelligence SaaS solutions provider. Prior to joining Algo, Turk spent the 23 years with NBC Universal, most recently as SVP Supply Chain.
Amjad Hussain, Chairman, founder and CEO, said: “Heidi’s deep knowledge of hard-goods manufacturing, distribution and retail channel operations will take Algo's white-glove, customer-centric service and support to the next level."
Now: Vice Chairman, Board of Directors, Asuccini
Jim Vrtis has been elected to the board of directors at Asuccini LLC, the leading international logistics transportation management software company. Vrtis will join as the Vice Chairman, and continue his role as CEO at Artemis ABA Inc.
Vrtis has more than 20 years of industry experience working in transportation and logistics. Ashkan Shamili, Founder & CEO, said: “With the addition of Jim to our Board, we are committed to providing our customers with an innovative customised transportation management system built in the Salesforce cloud and tailored to the way our customers run their business.”