Organizations are focusing on supply chain strategies that will directly impact the bottom line and customer satisfaction. Supply chain performance impacts over 85 percent of customer and supplier experiences, reflected in responsiveness, ease of doing business, reliability, satisfaction, and quality. Because of this, enhanced supply chain management applications allow an organization to
•Determine accurate promise dates real time, based on available inventory and capacity
•Select the best distribution point and method
•Reduce lead times and cycle times to create more re sponsive operations
•Determine relative probability of a customer order or supply alternative
•Support the virtual inventory concept.
Additional activities that enable more effective cus tomer-driven planning include (see Figure 4)
•Tours of customers' facilities
•Joint product design meetings
Recent trends that leverage technologies to support customer-driven strategies include
•Driving the supplier's MPS system directly from the customer's system via integration
•Demand-driven planning and supply, such as point
of sale reporting
•Reviewing and optimizing organizational infrastructure
•Dependency on extranets and e-business models
•Increasing dependence on data warehouses
•Accelerated information flow across geographical, technical, and organizational boundaries to drive business growth
•Manufacturers selling directly to consumers, taking on role of wholesalers and distributors
•Future marketing focused on shopping experience rather than product
•Bolt-on applications becoming routine additions to ERP suites
•Moving from mass marketing to micromarketing to
reaching segments of one
•Trading exchanges providing noncompetitive plat forms among industries.
BASIC SUPPLY CHAIN ACTIVITIES
For those organizations not ready for state-of-the-art integration techniques, there are several practical methods of integrating customer information into the master planning process that can be used effectively.
If we are going to produce what the market needs, we must know what the market needs. Understanding the needs and expectations of the customer requires getting to know them. Open communication about expectations, limitations, and abilities is a first step towards becoming customer-driven. The goal—knowing exactly what customers are producing, and what they need to produce it. The ability to forecast customer requirements has long been a thorn in the side of many organizations. Linking customer and supplier production schedules is an effective way of integrating demand management with customer satisfaction, as product is managed as one inventory. Schedule sharing provides a way to assist the customer in accurately forecasting future demands, while at the same time increasing the supplier's visibility and adaptability in the future.
The customer's schedule becomes the supplier's schedule, causing the supplier to simply be an extension of the customer's facility. Suppliers receive regular communications with customers' current inventory levels, desired minimum and maximum quantities, and production schedules. Communication channels can be EDI, fax, or simply sending copies of MRP outputs through the mail. Ultimately, integration would provide this information directly into the supplier's MPS calculations.
To Be Continued
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