A pandemic, as we have discovered with COVID-19, brings with it widespread lockdowns and transport restrictions. This, in turn, places an inordinate amount of stress on supply chains. Among the most urgent questions that a planner and a warehouse manager have to answer is, “What is my inventory status and what can I produce based on the number of employees available and the workstations that can be used?” This is a complex exercise because of the dynamic and unpredictable nature of supplies and orders.
Similarly, in an organization, maintaining a warehouse for inventory items planned for shipment to meet end customer orders becomes critical. Planners are confronted with several challenges, including whether to stock more or to stop stocking of inventory items to meet customer orders for the next few days. Considering the unpredictability of transportation lead times, planners need visibility into the current inventory status, excess inventory as well as demands for certain products over the next few days.
Additionally, take the case of a manufacturing organization that, as it turns out, has one employee who has tested positive for COVID-19. All other employees in the same shift must be quarantined, thereby reducing the availability of hands on the production floor. Assume that the manufacturer is producing glass bottles and caps for a brand of sparkling spring water. Suddenly, with not enough manpower, the plant manager needs to decide what items to manufacture, tools to use, inventory on hand, pending orders, raw materials available for production of bottles and caps, and when the inventory will get consumed.
Based on business imperatives, the manager may change the manufacturing schedule – which means additional set up time, and then testing the new production line for quality. This could take over 48 hours before actual production begins—during which workstations will be idle. Moreover, the manager needs to set a target to avoid over-manufacturing. This is because products have a shelf life (in our example, the glass bottles may get contaminated in storage and plastic caps may deform over time).
What the planner needs is a tool that allows accurate inventory shelf life planning and effective inventory management. The tool needs to forecast inventory excess based on current on hand, future outbound shipment schedules and inbound supply or work order in progress. In addition, the tool needs to provide an early warning for excess inventory as well as real-time inputs on inventory at various global warehouse locations. Wipro has created a tool integrated with Oracle Supply Chain solution to obtain the inventory solution efficiently. It also generates a dashboard and reports to identify excess inventory scenarios that help drive informed decisions regarding production continuity of FGs.
Planners or Warehouse Managers would benefit from the solution, during the current COVID-19 lockdown as well as post. The system will help planners make an informed decision as far as effective inventory optimization and planning is concerned. The solution does not require major transformation and can be up and running in less than 5 days—which makes it a highly attractive solution for organizations impacted by COVID-19 related restrictions and challenges.