Supply Chain - The future is on time.
Supplier Schedule Reporting. A step-change in Supply Chain Management.
Late delivery of material leads to delayed production, missed ship dates and diminished customer confidence. The knock-on effects of an interrupted supply chain can be catastrophic. Often, businesses know there is a problem in their supply chain but can’t measure its effect and can’t begin to address a solution. With supply chains becoming ever more complex, crisis management has become the norm - we keep the plates spinning.
As Manufacturing Systems Engineer at FMC Technologies, late material deliveries were “not my responsibility”. Nonetheless, their effect on Manufacturing was profound so, to solve the problem for Manufacturing, I had to look upstream. In doing this, I found a collection of business process which were wasteful, costly and slow. To keep the supply chain moving, buyers used Excel and email to bridge the gaps between systems, spending a huge amount of time (approx. 60% of the working week) issuing open purchase order (PO) update requests, chasing suppliers for information, repeatedly answering the same query to different internal business customers and producing status reports. Each buyer would typically have hundreds of PO’s to track. This was a very demanding process which led, inevitably, to some critically late PO’s being overlooked.
I designed a prototype system to pull all open PO’s from SAP into a SQL Server database and present these in a .net web application. I insisted that any PO schedule changes should come directly from the supplier as soon as they know that a date had to change. This proactive approach brought 3 main advantages:
- PO schedule changes were visible in real time for all users, giving the business time to react, if required.
- Buyers no longer had to spend 60% of their week as administrators, producing reports, chasing suppliers and relaying updates to internal departments.
- All change events were captured in the database, providing an audit trail for supplier evaluation. This information was previously unavailable.
The prototype system won local business sponsorship and was quickly recognised for its regional and global potential. As technical lead on a global project team, I developed the prototype into a fully automated, SAP-integrated system. The application has been in global Production use for almost two years with new suppliers and internal users added regularly.