Supply Chain Management (SCM): Improvement of supply chain is one of the last frontiers for improving productivity and supply chain visibility is the most important challenge faced by supply chain professionals. This is more relevant in the context of retail, consumer electrical and electronics industries where organizations are challenged by an environment of distributed operations, high demand volatility and rapid product evaluation. A properly implemented supply chain solution enables an organization to quickly respond to supply chain aberrations, and provides following benefits:
Accurately anticipate customer demand and respond quickly and efficiently. Quickly sense and respond to any changes in the marketplace.
Improving extended supply chain visibility and better collaboration encompassing vendors, customers, distributors, transporters and even competitors. Better order promising through increased Work in progress (WIP) and end item inventory visibility
Closed loop planning and execution, resulting increased factory throughput.
Co-ordinate marketing of end products through active collaboration with business partners.
SCM tools: Considering the importance of SCM, the reputed ERP vendors such as SAP, Oracle, and Infor started to add SCM solutions to their ERP offerings. Also best of breed offering from niche vendors e.g. Manugistic also started to appear in the marketplace. The product suite offered by theses solution providers broadly comprise of following components:
Demand Planner: Provides tools to integrate demand and supply plan. Demand planner comes with collaborative tools where everyone with a stake (including business partners) on demand plan, are brought together. It provides various forecasting algorithm with lifecycle modeling ability which gives an accurate understanding of rising/ dying (obsolescence) cycles of an item.
Advanced Planner: Provides strong scenario based tools for Sales and Operational Planning(S& OP), where any change in supply chain, such as breakdown of a manufacturing capacity, is accounted for in real time.
Advanced scheduler: Provides, in harmony with supply chain demand projections, multi site production schedules in most efficient manner so as to minimize set up time, reduce cycle time and maximize throughput.
Event management: Provides response to unusual event which may have an impact on supply chain such as new product launch, unusual weather, natural disaster etc.
Supplier Relationship Management (SRM): In the context of restructuring of extended supply chain, more and more organizations are asking their suppliers to integrate their business system for real time collaboration. Sharing information with suppliers now goes beyond the realm of EDI. SRM facilitates information integration and tracking in real time in respect of several aspects such as delivery schedules, delivery information, inventory, capacity planning, quotation, RFP, quality and credit. However, the extent of integration depends upon the criticality of supplier in the business context of the organizational need. SRM provides maximum value for integrating suppliers that have strategic stake such as an automobile ancillary, contract manufacturer for a retail chain.
SRM tools are mostly used to complement existing functionality of ERP system. Some of the specific functionalities of SRM are as follows:
Collaborative planning and scheduling.
Web based private trade exchange.
Monitoring of incoming goods through GPS tracking.
Dashboard providing real time suppliersâ€™ performance.
Warehouse Management System (WMS): Like warehousing module of an ERP system, the primary purpose of WMS is to control, storage and movement of goods. However, in the context of recent setting up of huge automated warehouse and advent of tracking technologies such as RFID (Radio Frequency ID), the limited warehousing functionality of an ERP system is not often adequate. WMS helps to organize work including allocation of resources and optimize storage and distribution network.
Very briefly, WMS comprises of following functionalities:
Marinating multiple Stock Keeping Units (SKU) for thousands o items.
Supports high volume wave picking/ zone picking.
Supports assigning, scheduling and monitoring of labor performance.
Increase inventory speed through cross docking (unloading incoming goods and immediately loading in an outbound vehicle).
Automated data collection through RFID and bar code technology.
Integration with materials handling equipments deployed in the warehouse, such as conveyors, fork lift truck, within the automated warehouse,
Generation of electronic advanced shipping notification (ASN).