Supply Chain Blog

FMCG Demand Signal Generation; TISWAS, TV Cooking & Sushi

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Oct 23, 2013

When I was a Saturday morning TV addict in UK the must-watch show was ITV’s TISWAS which featured the thigh booted Sally James and I think there were some other presenters. The alternative offering was the much posher and less anarchic Swap Shop on old Auntie Beeb fronted by a man with a beard and a knitted tank top or was it a tank-top and a knitted beard? Saturday morning was never complete without a dose of TISWAS flan flinging fun.

So what are the 2013 viewing options for Saturday morning TV in UK? Cooking. Yes, cooking. Making quiche, cakes and dribbling jus – whatever that is – over pan-fried duck breasts is now the Saturday morning staple. I guess all the children are on IPhones or Facebook or some other high tech recreational toy leaving a free weekend slot for chef’s – usually male – to entertain by cooking. They even repeat the same stuff on Sunday morning just in case you missed the live transmission! “Ooh, I cannot wait to see Jamie slice that juicy chicken so precisely once again.”

Come on Dave, what does this week-end sauce, flan, bake and devour theme have to do with a Supply Chain? The answer to that takes us to a Sushi Restaurant that operates a conveyor belt system of small portion food delivery. I tried one last week in Birmingham and I think I am now hooked on the concept.

Sushi demand signal S&OP resized 600A continuous stream of Japanese delicacies is brought within inches of your chop-sticks for you to inspect and choose. No trying to catch the attention of a waiter or wishing you could have just a little more salmon here or more rice there. All the food options move slowly past your eyes and if you want it you take it. To me the experience is rather like shopping on an internet screen but the goods arrive without delay.

How do they manage to avoid under-stocking which affects customer service or over-stocking and ultimately waste? Dishes of raw fish cannot travel the conveyor ad infinitum or else the bathroom queue would be continuously lengthy. To avoid this, each clear, plastic dome covering the dishes has a small sticker which shows an expiry time when it must be taken off the conveyor.  I suspect some up market venues will have a bar code system so this stock withdrawal can take place automatically without human interference.

How do they forecast what delicacies to put on the conveyor and how many of each dish as getting this horribly wrong every day would be very expensive? Peak lunch and dinner times are probably safe enough but outside those hours how do you estimate demand?

pulse demand signal generationLike any FMCG/Brewing/Pharmaceutical business there has to be a period of trial and error in order to establish a decent demand signal based on historical data whilst also taking into account peak-generating marketing and sales activity. If you announce a BOGOF promotion on chirashi or makizushi - yes, they are correct - then the kitchen needs to know well in advance to order and prepare the correct ingredient and quantities.

You see such a growing number of thriving Sushi Restaurants to indicate that they have gone through the pain of establishing a demand baseline that allows them to operate profitably and with good customer service. How diligently has your business tackled this challenge within S&OP?

Sushi image courtesy of satit_srihin at freedigitalphotos.net

Demand baseline image courtesy of jscreationzs at freedigitalphotos.net

Tagss: FMCG, Dave Jordan, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Inventory Management & Stock Control