Supply Chain Blog

Break Down Departmental Silos Through Functional Integration for Route to Market Success

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Feb 15, 2019

The FMCG business is like a team sport. There are sales people sent into the field, to sell more products and beat their targets. There are players put on the sports field, charged with scoring points and winning the game. In both scenarios, if the people behind the scenes don’t do their job, those on the front line can’t deliver. It’s that simple.

functional-integration-rtm

Route to Market (RtM) professionals need inventory to fulfill orders, budgets to execute Key Account agreements, Point of Sale (POS) material to help increase sales, devices to record information, take orders and communicate, vehicles to visit customers, etc. The RtM/Sales or TM&D (Trade Marketing & Distribution) function must have clear and open two-way communication with all the other business functions. Functional Integration is a cornerstone to any successful RtM strategy.

My first lesson in the need for Functional Integration came when I was a Sales Rep for an FMCG multinational in the late 1990’s. The Marketing Department was doing a big push for one specific brand. They sent every rep a large package of POS material with clear instructions to place it in retail. The main POS material was a cash mat. Cash mats are designed to be placed next to the till, on the counter between the retailer and the consumer, and are where the retailer can place notes and coins as part of the consumers change from their order. They protect the retailers counter, make it easier for the consumer to pick up their change and they can provide a great opportunity to communicate with the consumer at the actual point of purchase.

These particular cash mats were beautiful pieces of POS material. They were very high quality, the message they communicated was very clear and they were also very durable. But there was one big problem. They didn’t fit into the available space in the retail stores. There had been no interaction, consultation, or communication between the RtM function and the marketing function during their development. A lot of money could have been saved if there had been proper Functional Integration.

Welcome to my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. Over the past number of months, we have gone through the first 18 steps of my model. The focus of this post is Step 19 – ‘Functional Integration’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 19 – Functional Integration:

  1. Based on the RtM Review in Step 1, what are the other business functions that your RtM, Sales or TM&D department currently interacts with? Have you explicitly identified them?
  2. Are there currently ‘rules of engagement’ for the different interactions with the other functions, or has it just evolved?
  3. For each business function or department, to what extent have we identified the nature of the integration required? For example, what key processes are involved? What are the related process inputs and outputs? Have levels of inter-departmental performance been defined? Are these levels of performance explicit? If so, how has performance been defined? Do internal Service Level Agreements (SLAs) exist, for example?
  4. Based on the new RtM Strategy in Step 5, how will the functional interaction with the RtM department and other functions change? What new rules of engagement need to be established? How will this be measured?
  5. What is the nature of the integration with Supply Chain? How do we feed information into the Supply Chain Department? For example, who decides what the demand will be over the next few months? What are the implications for the Logistics Department? Has the RtM Department fed into these processes?
  6. Do we have an S&OP (Sales & Operational Planning) Process? Has the RtM Department fully bought into this process? Are we represented in it? Is it clear what information we should feed into this process? For example, what is the role of the RtM Department in the Demand Review Process?
  7. Who receives our information on Out of Stocks in the field? What actions are taken based on this? How do we prevent them? What help do we need to do this?
  8. Do we accept product returns from customers? If so, who manages this process and what departments interact with this?
  9. How does the RtM department interact with the Brand Marketing department? Has this process been formalised? How often do representatives from the marketing department attend trade field visits?
  10. Does the RtM Department feed into Point of Sale (POS) material development? If not, why not?
  11. Do we place any promotional trade assents in the field? Who manages this process? Who provides feedback on their applicability and usefulness? Who tracks and manages them as assets of the business? What is our process for this and which function is responsible?
  12. How does the RtM Department interact with the Finance Department? Who sets prices, margins, budgets and discounts within the RtM department? How does Finance fit in with this? How do we currently feed trade information into Finance? How will this change under any new RtM Strategy?
  13. How do we open new accounts with customers? Are any other departments involved? Who sets payments terms? Do we offer credit? Who then sets individual customer credit limits? How does the RtM department feed information into this?
  14. How do we collect payment from our customers? Is it all electronic? Do we accept any other forms of payment? Do we accept cash? What are the processes and procedures for this? Which departments are involved? Do we have a Security or Health & Safety Department or Function? Is this part of HR? How do we interact with them?
  15. How do we interact with the IT department? Do we have a CRM solution or hand-held device that is used to take orders and record market data? Who maintains this? Who feeds them information about its real-world application and actual issues?
  16. How does the RtM Department interact with the HR Department? For example, do we have a system for performance appraisals? Who is responsible for RtM Training & Development? Who manages performance appraisals? How do receive the company policies & procedures? How can or do we feedback on them?
  17. Who manages our company equipment, like cars, phones, tablets, laptops, uniforms, etc? How do we provide feedback on these? To whom?
  18. How does the RtM Department interact with the corporate/public affairs or PR department? For example, how often do they make trade visits? How do we feed information to them? How can they speak publicly or address key issues about our products or communications, without speaking to the department who deals with our customers?
  19. How open are we as a department? Do we have regular conferences and regular meetings? Do we invite other departments? Do we actively manage our relationship with other departments? Do we try to attend other departments key meetings?
  20. What is our plan to on board the other company functions to our new approach to RtM? Have we consulted them throughout the process to accelerate buy in? Have we looked at which specific areas within the 20 Steps to RtM Excellence will impact on which specific functions?
  21. What is the overall strategy to ensure the RtM Function is integrated with all necessary departments and functions across the organisation?

I hope you find this useful, and any views and comments are most welcome.

Next, I will cover the final step, Step 20 ‘Culture & Leadership’. Please subscribe to the blog on this page, to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps click here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, Promotions, RTM, Retail, Information, Inventory Management & Stock Control, RTM Assessment Tool, Sales, Distribution, Cost Reduction, S&OP, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, SKU, Customer service

Beat the FMCG Competition with an Outstanding Distributor Partnership Programme

Posted by Ross Marie on Fri, Jan 18, 2019

A Distributor Partnership Programme, if designed and implemented correctly, can be one of the most powerful tools in the Route to Market (RtM) armory for delivering sales growth.

distributor-partnership-programme-webA Distributor Partnership Programme sets out which individual distributors or distribution network(s) you will work with. It details, ideally within individual simple Distributor Development Plans, how you will work with them, what specific areas they need to improve on, exactly what they need to deliver and what is in it for them. All of this will be done with the back drop of the specific market you operate in, set against agreed timelines, and the programme must map out a win/win for all sides.

The Distributor Partnership Programme works best as part of an overall RtM improvement plan, but at the very least needs to be coupled with Distributor Assessments, which I covered in an earlier post. Once we have assessed what we already have/what is out there, we can then decide who, and on what basis, we want to partner.

Welcome to my blog series on the 20 Steps to Route to Market Excellence model. Over the past number of months, we have gone through the first 14 steps of my model. The focus of this post is Step 15 ‘Distributor Partnership Programme’.

Here are some examples of questions you can ask under Step 15 ‘Distributor Partnership Programme’:

  1. Based on the RtM Strategy & the 4D Approach chosen in Step 5, what is our DIME approach for our Route to Market?
  2. What is a reasonable expectation of our distributors? Have we defined exactly what this is in terms of process and performance? Have we included sales processes, logistics performance and back office performance? How do we measure this?
  3. Based on the Distributor Assessment in Step 3, how many of our current distributors do we want to continue to work with? What is the minimal size of a viable distributor, including the ability to fund any required investment? What is the optimum number of distributors? What is the current contractual arrangement with our current distributors?
  4. How many of our current distributors are we looking to end our relationship with? Upon what basis can we make such a judgement? What is the current contractual arrangement with them? What is our approach and plan for ending this relationship? Will there be financial or other implications to ending any relationships?
  5. Have we conducted a risk and continuity of supply assessment? Have we included factors such as resource (specifically cost), product supply, politics, competition, timing, future relationship, perception, etc.?
  6. Will we look to engage with any new distributors? What criteria will we use to make these decisions? Who are these new distributors? What is our engagement plan with them?
  7. Are we currently operating on an exclusive distribution system? If not, is that something we have identified as a priority going forward? If not, how will we manage potential conflicts that could arise?
  8. Have we considered the output of our Competitor Analysis in Step 4? What impact will this have on, for example, looking at distributor exclusivity, starting and ending relationships, distributor development plans, etc.?
  9. Based on the Distributor Assessment in Step 3, what does our ideal or model distributor look like? What criteria are we using to create this ideal distributor? Have we taken local geographic, technological, political and economic conditions and nuances into account? What does the Balance Sheet of a Model Distributor look like?
  10. Based our RtM targets identified in Step 5, and looking across all of our distributors, existing and new, what will the Distributor Development Plans of each distributor look like?
  11. Will the Distributor Development Plans include areas of, for example, geographic coverage, number of vehicles, availability of data, inventory levels, reporting, calls per day, steps of the call, route planning, flexibility (e.g. new brand launches), brand distribution criteria, point of sale material placement, planogramming, display, brand dialogue, promotions, pricing, product returns/complaints, retailer engagement, to name a few?
  12. Out of these Distributor Development Plans, do we have a simple specific strategy for each distributor – e.g. defend / increase market share, improve selling processes, develop or expand van selling etc.?
  13. What will our partnership programme look like? What criteria will we use and how will this be measured? Will we categorise distributors into different performance categories? If so, what will these categories look like, how many will we have and how will this be measured?
  14. What will the rewards in the partnership programme be? Will we use a discount system, a rebate system, a prize-based system, a combination of these, etc.?
  15. Have we considered budgetary factors? Will this be self-financing through volume gains? Have we mapped out the success of different scenarios to fully uncover maximum cost exposure?
  16. Will we differentiate distributors based on, for example, size, volume, market share, reach, coverage, reporting, data, access, etc.?
  17. Will this be a national programme? Will we need a pilot in one region for example? Will we allow geographic nuances and differences to be considered? Will here be any effect on headcount in the RtM team to support the programme? Will we need specific Distributor Development roles, or will these activities be accommodated in BAU?
  18. What will the training programme be for our key account and RtM team? What is our roll out plan for this?
  19. Have we developed new SLAs or key account agreements to take account of the above?
  20. All Distributor Programmes should increase sales and market sharer, so what expectations do we have for our programme?
  21. Based on all the above, what is the implementation & engagement plan for the Distributor Partnership Programme?

I hope you find this useful, as always views and comments are welcome. Next, I will cover Step 16 ‘Third Degree Partnerships (3DPs)’. Please subscribe to the blog on this page, to ensure you don’t miss the latest updates on RtM excellence in execution and the 20 Steps model. If you would like to know more about the 20 Steps click here.

Tags: 20 Steps to RtM Excellence, RtM Strategy, Ross Marie, Promotions, RTM, Retail, Inventory Management & Stock Control, RTM Assessment Tool, Distribution, Sales, Logistics Management, Traditional Trade, Route to Market, FMCG, Brewing & Beverages, SKU, Customer service

FMCG Forecasting: Ice Cream, chocolate & pregnancy

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 02, 2018

You will have to bear with me for a while on this one. Do you know that on average 85% of expectant women suffer food cravings during pregnancy? Apparently, the top 5 are:

Pickles   5%  - yuk, that surprised me too.
Cheese  11% - get those calories in.
Crisps/chips 15% - much needed salt.
Chocolate 17% - feel-good food.
Ice Cream 23% - junk food craving or just indulgence as you put on weight anyway?

Satisfying these cravings over the 9 months must lead to a significant extra expense (which might actually gently prepare prospective parents for the post-natal costs that will not go away for a very long time).  This leads me to consider that there are specific windows in the calendar when opportunities for cost effective pregnancy cravings exist.

If you crave chocolate, then the best time for a pregnancy should include Christmas when you can take advantage of everyone buying you chocolates anyway plus the post-holiday BOGOF and more promotions to get rid of all the excess stock in retail. If you need a chocolate fix it does not matter if it is in the form of a stack of standard bars or if it is a box of chocolate Wayne Rooney/Shrek figurines. As long as you satisfy the chocolate fix then all is very well with the world.

If you are really clever with your timing you might be able to stock up with discounted chocolate products in January that last you until Easter. Then, everyone aware of your craving can buy you chocolate again and then you can gorge on endless stocks of 2 for 1 bunnies.

ice-cream-demand-planningLike the majority of women in this survey my wife craved ice cream. This would have easily manageable had we been in UK but were located in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Even in the cooler months getting ice cream from a shop to the home freezer required an ice box. Without some sort of chilling system anything you bought would quickly revert to sugar, fat and water. To avoid emergencies, we had to overstock at home but ease of availability meant this rapidly diminished and led to numerous middle of the night dashes to find more ice cream.

So, if your must-have food is ice cream when is the best time to be pregnant and not break the home budget? If you are in the northern hemisphere then September/October is the ideal time to have an uncontrollable ice cream craving. Take a look at your local supermarket and you will see that the most promoted/discounted products are ice creams. BOGOF is common and as the time passes you will eventually see buy 1 get 4 free or more until the stock is finally exhausted, the product expires or the store wants the retail space returned.

I know it is very difficult to forecast demand for ice cream. Global weather is becoming increasingly unpredictable and even a few short weeks of a gloomy summer can ruin producers’ sales campaigns. Producers do have very sophisticated tools that monitor the weather, providing indexes and algorithms to understand likely demand but nothing can be 100% perfect.

Weather sensitive businesses must be expending considerable resources on trying to get more reliable demand signals as the annual write-off costs continue to hit results. These financial loses will probably rise as our climate becomes even less predictable.

Good news for expectant mothers but bad news for shareholders, CEO’s and CFO’s everywhere.

Ice Cream Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: FMCG, Dave Jordan, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, Inventory Management & Stock Control

Supply Chain: A top 10 Supply Chain faux pas!

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jun 28, 2018

I have just had one of those mornings. I missed the alarm and the 10-minute snooze and from then on everything went downhill. Jumped in the shower for a brief cleanse but then I realised there was no soap, not even a sliver. So, soaking wet I get out, but can I find anything remotely soapy? There was no time to waste so the Charles and Di souvenir tablet had to be sacrificed.

Obviously, it was quite a few years old and completely lacking in perfume but if I could generate a foam that would do the trick. I actually found myself apologising to the princess as I showered! Finally clean, I quickly sprayed shaving foam under my arms, brusupply chain exec tipical problemsshed my teeth with some really vile tasting skin cream and I was set to face the world. Well, I would have been if I hadn’t managed to put my Polo shirt on inside out.

I know students turn their underwear inside out to get a few days extra wear but I’ve started to put shirts on inside out. I was in a Birmingham Vodafone shop with the heiress when she leaned closer and told me what I had done. I just took the shirt off and put it back on again proving that you’re never too old to embarrass your daughter!

Only shoes left before a rushed mobile breakfast before finally getting on my way. How knotted can a shoelace get. There are only 2 ends about 40cm apart, yet they get into knots a Rubik’s Cube genius could not release within 48 hours.

Does that sound rather like your Supply Chain?  The 2 ends may well be continents apart but some of the supply knots companies get themselves into are incredible. Here is a list of top 10 totally terrible Supply Chain knots we have seen in the last 12 months alone. As ever, no names, no pack drill!

  1. A snacks company tried to sort out their Supply Chain challenges using internal resources and ended up disbanding the SC structure.
  2. A well-known DIY retailer “found” over 1000 pallets of product that were on the books but had expired.
  3. A regional Brewer boasted of a cutting-edge S&OP implementation when in reality staff were just going through the motions as Sales colleagues had become disengaged.
  4. An African FMCG business had over-stocked the distributor network so much that they could stop manufacturing for 4 months without any impact on sell-out.
  5. A global agri-business outsourced their logistics operations to the cheapest tender quote and quickly paid for this with severe out of stocks.
  6. A new ERP will solve all of our problems said a Printing CEO. After paying a huge price for a vanilla deployment they are now shelling out again to actually have an ERP that fits their needs.
  7. An Eastern European tobacco company opened more warehouses than were actually required and as is the rule, they were quickly filled with unnecessary working capital.
  8. A direct supplier to the motor industry was carrying Eur 2.5M of spare parts for vehicles that are no longer in production.
  9. A Brewer invested heavily in their RTM network with proven success only to mimic a later competitive move and see sales collapse during the peak season.
  10. A garage forecourt operator allocated Supply Chain activities to the Sales Department and soon realised very different skills were required for success.

All relatively easily avoidable if only some expert advice had been sought. Some of these problems make my disastrous morning seem like a walk in the park.

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at freedigtalphotos.net

Tags: Spare Parts, FMCG, Supply Chain, Logistics Service Provider, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Dave Jordan, Route to Market

FMCG Inventory Shrinkage & Control - It's a Dog's Life

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 18, 2018

Do you find yellow dog biscuits stuffed in your window frames? 

Well, I’d expect such occurrences to be as rare as a squirrel with a nut allergy but I find it all the time. Our house has mosquito nets on the windows as our summers are rather hot and the little blighters bite with pure human hatred.  The nets slide up and down between 2 small, vertical brushes on either side of the window to make them impregnable to blood seeking buzzers.

Within these brushes is where I find yellow dog biscuits. Not brown or red or any other colour, only yellow canine munchies. (And while we are on this important subject, if dogs are colour blind why do we give them different coloured biscuits?) You might presume that our half Jack Russell-half Mr. Bean dog Patch is responsible. Is he hiding them away for a sneaky midday or midnight snack? Does he know about some impending global dog chow shortage? I doubt Patch is the culprit as some of these windows are 7 metres off the ground and our dog is yet to work out how to find and climb a ladder and then put the ladder away without me knowing.

FMCG Stock inventory controlSo, how do the biscuits find their way into my window frames? Not surprisingly perhaps, the biscuit thieves are birds; magpies to be precise. I guess they are storing up for a rainy day or winter or some other event. They are known to be attracted by shiny objects but I cannot see the connection with a fairly bland crunchy snack. Also, as Patch eats inside the house they cannot be my/his biscuits so the magpies are stealing them from another poor dog in the area.

The house has many windows so the amount of stolen food is quite high and as I now regularly clear out the stash, the amount really starts to add up.  Some pooch somewhere is not getting his or her full share to eat. That poor dogs’ human probably thinks their poodle is really content and eating well when in fact a magpie is regularly taking the yellow biscuits away. Of course, maybe the poodle doesn’t like the yellow ones. 

Ok Dave, what do we have here and what is this to do with Supply Chain? Let us take a look at what is happening:

1. Supply Chain inventory is not secure as stock shrinkage is occurring on an almost daily basis and yet nobody appears to notice. When did you last see your stock count?

          2. Stock is in the wrong location to serve the needs of the intended customers and consumers. When you have stock in the wrong places you will inevitably develop an overstock in your Producer warehouse network.

          3. Consumer demand is artificially high resulting in over-stocking and unnecessary spend along the Supply Chain.

          4. Ultimately, the final consumer is receiving poor Customer Service.

About the only aspect impressive in this is the quality of the logistics in getting the stolen biscuits from a dog bowl into my window frames. I will keep a look out for any stolen jewellery but I fear I will only have biccies to clear away.

Put simply, if you do not take great care with your own inventory somebody else will!

Image courtesy of bplanet at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: FMCG, Logistica Management, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain, Inventory Management & Stock Control

Supply Chain Analytics smooths production planning AND reduces inventory?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jun 14, 2018

May Day falling on a Tuesday meant a rare 4 day “weekend” break was enjoyed and the sun shone, in Romania at least. Time to dust off the BBQ for the first time this year and chill in the late April heat. We had some Romanian bred ostrich meat to grill – yes, honestly and what’s more the Romanian word for Ostrich is the perfectly apt Strut!

Everything was rather last-minute, but the salad was done, bread buns cut and buttered, potatoes wrapped in foil were ready and the Prosecco had already popped. Man dons apron with a life size image of a girl in a bikini plus a Knorr chef hat and we are ready to roll.

Well, we would be ready to roll if we had any charcoal!

SUPPLY_CHAIN_ANALYTICS_INVENTORY_PRODUCTION_PLANNINGI guess I could have popped out to the garage to pick a bag up but it ruins the flow of things and anyway I was Prosecco’d up. To a background of female tutting we resorted to another process and turned the gas on in the kitchen.

I only had 6 items to plan but goofed with one of the most important but the absence of any would have scuppered the day. Our last-minute change of plan was not dramatic but we used expensive gas rather than charcoal. This minor domestic challenge shows how unexpected shortages can impact on otherwise smooth processes.

Putting the strut steaks aside let us look at a case study where materials more critical than charcoal were causing problems and how Supply Chain Analytics played their part.

The Challenge

Despite having relatively predictable demand and high stock levels, an FMCG manufacturer still suffered stock-outs of different RM/PM and had to change production plans and schedules constantly to try and maintain service levels. As a result, operating costs were unnecessarily high, and the day-to-day running of the supply chain was absorbing a disproportionate amount of management time due to fire-fighting. Staff morale was dipping – much like mine on Sunday afternoon!

The Solution

SupplyVue took a detailed analytical look at the production sequence using the line changeover matrix and demand plan. This work sought to create the lowest cost manufacturing sequence and a set of “Golden Rules” to maximise efficiency. Using this optimum sequence, SupplyVue used production wheel methodology to create a rolling 16-week production plan. Scenarios were generated showing the trade-offs between manufacturing cost, manning and inventory levels, and between levelling capacity and inventory. In doing this, the management team was able to decide on the production policies that most aligned to their business objectives and specifically, Customer Service.

The Impact

1. A 15% reduction in changeover time through an optimised production wheel approach.

2. Levelled demand to prevent overtime and disrupting shift patterns.

3. Inventory levels plummeted through reduced cycle times and increased conformance to plan.

Supply Chain Analytics would not have saved my BBQ or my ear from a bashing, but you need something with high powered deep data diving capability to understand what is really going on in your supply chain.

Image courtesy of Peter Orseved at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Supply Chain Analytics, Supply Chain, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Production Planning

7 Deadly Sins: Why FMCG Distributors are Overstocked in CEE

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jun 13, 2018

How I guffaw when I hear producers complain about traditional trade distributor overstock.Make no mistake Mr. Producer, YOU put the stock there, oh yes you did! Distributors don't buy stock for something to do or a laugh and a giggle. Excess stock blocks up their warehouses and locks up their cash.

Why does this happen in even the largest companies?

1. Month, quarter and year-end push. "Targets have to be met so push as much stock as possible into the Distributors." This is simply loading and is not real sales.

2. Failed launches. Unrealistic Producer sales objectives leading to slow moving goods which sit in warehouses.

3. Old label stock. Perfectly good stock but the pack with the new artwork is being sold already and nobody wants this "old stuff".

4. Old and expired promotions. Funding support has ended so what do we do with all these left over promo packs? Don't expect sales and marketing colleagues to help.

5. Returns from customers. Still arguing about who is to pay for these returns? You should have had clear SLAs and contract in place.

6. Producer forecasting errors. Nobody wants to lose face at Producer HQ so the stock sits and gathers dust until it expires or is stolen.

7. Damaged and expired. Damages happen, get them written off AND destroyed and get over it. You can avoid expired goods - see above!

Overstocked Distributors

You might think your Distributors have a healthy 21 days of cover but in reality they are operating with a much lower level of saleable stock, ie what consumers actually want to buy.The rest sits in their books and in your stock cover numbers but it contributes nothing to sales. In fact, it negatively affects sales as stock that is in demand is available at too low levels or not at all to meet customer requirements.

"Those distributors have so much stock but my Customer Service level is rubbish".  IT IS NOT A SUPPLY CHAIN PROBLEM!

 

Tags: Dave Jordan, CEE, Traditional Trade, Distribution, Inventory Management & Stock Control

Supply Chain Analytics helps international retailer in business turn-around

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Jun 07, 2018

Many will recall that famous Four Yorkshiremen sketch first seen the At Last the 1948 Show and later Monty Python. Four dour characters recall how tough it was when they were younger with each trying to out do the others in a downwards spiral of harshness. While the claims were outrageous and equally ridiculous it had me thinking about how things have changed. If you beamed an 18-year-old back to 1970 what would they see?

  • An analogue telephone attached to a wall with a wire and to call anyone you had to literally dial the numbers with 1 finger using the rotating plastic ring.

  • If you didn’t have a telephone wired into the house you had to put your coat on and walk to a red K6 telephone box, usually in the rain and there’d be a queue. You would need to carry 2p and 10p coins to keep the call active.

  • A television which was probably a black and white model operated by valves housed in a huge rear section. To change channel (there were only 3!) you had to get off your backside, walk across the room and turn a dial, or push a button if you were posh.

  • Need to send someone a message? You did that by writing (possibly typing) on a piece of paper, putting it in an envelope, buying a stamp and popping it in 1 of the red post boxes dotted around.

  • You want to listen to music? Take the black vinyl 7 or 12-inch disk out of the sleeve and place it on the Dansette record player the size of a small suitcase. Manually lift the stylus, place it on the disk and away you go.

I could go on and on and list many examples of life in the pre-digital age. Youngsters today don’t know they’re born!

SUPPLY_CHAIN_ANALYTICS_RETAIL_GLOBALAll of the examples above would also have been used in industry in some form and business has seen equally dramatic changes to how they operate. I will focus only on 1 area here and that is Supply Chain Analytics. No more guessing at how decisions may affect your performance, a good analytics package offers you a virtual crystal ball! Let me take you through a case study.

The Challenge

A well-known international retailer was suffering high levels of inventory in warehouses and in retail outlets plus this stock was the wrong mix for the sales pattern. The company was unable to accurately coordinate the flow of goods from long lead time suppliers to outlets. As a result, expensive emergency air-freighting was used to avoid out of stocks yet, despite this cash draining initiative, working capital was well above target.

The Solution

SupplyVue Analytics reviewed the demand profiles in outlets and at an aggregated level in central warehouses. At outlet-level granularity, the demand was far too sporadic to be forecast, however, at central warehouses, product flow was sufficient to determine a reliable forecast. Analytics demonstrated that a switch to a Kanban pull approach from the central warehouses to outlets would transform inventory levels and eliminate the need for air-freight. In addition, the company implemented a complementary demand-driven replenishment mechanism from central warehouse to multiple suppliers.

The Impact

1. A sustainable 25% reduction in overall inventory levels across a complicated Supply Chain.

2. A deeper understanding of demand profile enabled the company to provide a more predictable and stable signal to suppliers which in turn raised their reliability.

3. Completely eliminated air-freight costs caused by product shortages with an associated increase in Customer Service.

So, progress in this digital age is not all bad and once you have taken a Test Drive or Pilot in Supply Chain Analytics you will wonder how on earth you previously managed. If you need further information please get out your quill and ink write a letter to Enchange!

Image courtesy of photostock at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Supply Chain Analytics, Dave Jordan, CEO, Inventory Management & Stock Control

FMCG – Hunker down and find Supply Chain Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jun 06, 2018

Have you ever “hunkered down”? I remember being asked to hunker down during a business game training course many years ago and I had no idea what I was supposed to do. Eventually I had to ask as failing to follow the hunker downwards request appeared to be causing a bit of a problem for the American presenter.

This hunkering failure occurred during one of the many versions of the Beer Game in which I have taken part or delivered over the years. Anyone who has been involved with supply chain activities will probably have taken part in the Beer Game, or the Moussy Game as it is sometimes known in dry countries of the Middle East.

What does the beer game do? The rules are relatively simple and in summary, the overall objective is to meet consumer demand for cases of beer in a complex, extended supply chain while controlling unplanned expense on back orders and inventory. The game involves four overlapping and inter-dependent supply chains, i.e. source, make, distribution, and a retail outlet. There is a cost penalty for holding excess stock and any backlog unfulfilled orders.

Players rely on colleagues in the other departments to do the right things at the right time for the business but frustration soon surfaces. Usually, things do not go well and players feel frustrated because they are not getting the results they expect. Assumptions are made about consumer demand and erratic patterns emerge as backlogs mount and/or massive unnecessary inventory accumulates. It was at this stage in the game I was invited to “hunker down……….”.

Does that sound like your own supply chain – not the hunkering bit? Frustration is common between departments who all aim to do the right thing but only have the necessary data and information to do the right thing for their specific area of responsibility at that specific time. Even after careful consideration and informed debate, the real effect of an adjustment can only be seen in the future.

supply_chain_analytics_fmcg_inventory_performance.jpgIF - a big if -  nothing else changes and all assumptions are correct and accurate then there is a chance the desired effect will develop as predicted. However, life is not like that and certainly not supply chain life.

 

What can happen?

1. New launches kick-in and are successful, or perhaps not.

2. Competition by definition is designed to try and disrupt your plans.

3. The weather turns out rather different to the forecast and nobody wants beer.

4. The economy takes a turn up or down, again.

5. Factories, 3PLPs and distributors all suffer performance variability.

6. Customers and consumers change their needs and habits.

Etc., etc., etc., this list really is endless. Absolutely anything can happen to turn apparently sensible decisions into foolish, future forecast failure.

Hey, what about all that expensive IT we have? Doesn’t that help us understand what is going on and what is going to happen? No, not necessarily. Common supply chain IT tells us what has happened, what is happening, where and when but not precisely why an event happened or what will happen.

Subtle differences perhaps but to up your game you need to hunker down with Supply Chain Analytics to gain a full unexpurgated understanding of how changes you make today will impact the future and more importantly, how you can change that future.

Yes, you can change the future with a classy analytics tool.

Image courtesy of Enchange at Enchange.com

Tags: IT, Supply Chain Analytics, FMCG, CEO, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Customer service

7 Top Tips for Spare Parts Management in Factories

Posted by Dave Jordan on Mon, Jun 04, 2018

Well, I find it strange anyway. Some very large companies spend countless hours and cash in finding and securing a third party logistic provider (3PLP) to take great care of their finished goods assets. The performance of the chosen 3PLP is then measured and monitored very closely using a suite of KPIs, e.g. damages and losses are recorded and usually debited to the 3PLP under the contract terms. A 3PLP is charged with “storing your stuff” as safely and cost effectively as possible and providing easy picking for dispatch.

I often wonder why some blue chip companies fail to adopt similar warehousing and logistics principles in the operation of in-house engineering stores. Depending on the industry, the value of the components can be several millions of Euros. If you do not pay attention to this area then the same things happen as they do with finished goods warehouses, including:

1. Shrinkage or more accurately, theft! Your spare parts stores will be helping to repair private cars, replenish home tool-boxes and raise personal funds through the sale of stolen goods. This might seem harsh but I have seen it first-hand and continue to in large organisations.

Bottling line resized 6002. Important parts are not in the right place. If you do not have clearly labelled storage bins you can stop production lines very quickly losing valuable operating time. At the end of the day an idle line can probably lead to more lost sales than a badly picked finished goods pallet.

3. Spare parts not replenished. If stock control is not rigorous then you will go out of stock on important items just when you need them. Sod’s Law dictates that they will also be the parts with lengthy lead times.

A few simple principles loaned from big scale warehousing will help:

  1. Operate some sort of stock management system. This can be done on Excel with some discipline but specifically designed software packages are available. You need to know where each spare part is located just like in a finished goods warehouse.
  2. Carry out cycle and annual stock counting. Keep a close eye on your high value and production-critical items by counting them on a rotating basis. Do not wait for a year-end count to reveal a gaping hole in your stock value.
  3. Carry out an ageing analysis. Many large stores are full of spares for machines that were last running when “Shep was a pup”. They are of no use to you yet they sit on a shelf and on your books as working capital. Any materials with specific shelf lives also need regular checking to ensure you are not holding something which is at best useless or at worst dangerous!
  4. Secondary store for critical items. Items of high value or those which will stop production can be held in a “store within a store”, e.g. a wire cage with 2 locks. Access to these items requires a more senior employee to be present at issuance, e.g. maintenance manager.
  5. Operate some relevant KPIs. These do not have to be wide ranging or difficult to calculate, e.g. ageing, stock rotation, shrinkage etc. An important KPI can be the value of your spares as a % of the operation asset value. Do you know yours?
  6. Order and stock only what you need. Avoid the temptation to buy in bulk as the price is keener. If you are able to calculate a forecast plus some safety stock then you can minimise your inventory and your working capital. Also, ensure that spares purchasing and receipt are spilt responsibilities or you may find you are buying items you do not actually use in the factory..………
  7. Restrict access to the spare parts stores. If you allow anyone to wander in and remove items then your stock control will be out of control, no doubt. If you require access to spares on a 24 hour basis then ensure the facility is staffed appropriately at all times. Leaving the stores unmanned and the door open should be a disciplinary offence.

When looking at factory operating efficiency people will often focus only on the production line and RM/PM supply. Take a look at how you manage spare parts and you may be able to influence your level of efficiency from an unexpected source close to home.

Image credit: Hi.WTC

Tags: Logistics Service Provider, Dave Jordan, KPI, Logistics Management, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Manufacturing Footprint, Spare Parts