A decade or so ago, manufacturing excellence was synonymous with long production runs, high capacity utilization within the boundaries of the plant. In today's world of growth, excellence is determined by a company's ability to rapidly and profitably respond to customer and market demand where dynamic schedules, multi-product lines and processes to tailor products are the norms.
While leading Consumer Goods companies have been pursuing the 'consumer-driven supply chain' vision for some years now, the reality is that these efforts have mostly been on the demand side of the supply chain. The supply or the factory side has been largely untouched and governed by traditional KPIs that measure plant based operational performance and has remained as silos within the plants.
Some of the leading Consumer Goods companies have taken a first stab at this through initiatives such as having a capability to be more flexible and agile in the factory network and deployment of modular changeover techniques. In other words, factory investments are driven by capabilities rather than capacities with a focus on moving to Global Multi-Enterprise Orchestration as a facilitator to a Fulfillment Execution Network.
My interactions with our customers having large global manufacturing operations point to:
- Introducing more flexible manufacturing capabilities and enabling a single plant to produce multiple products and variants
- Seeing their factories as part of a global network of flexible production capabilities aimed at fulfilling global customer demand, rather than single, isolated entities
- Viewing this network of factories as a virtual, global factory from which demand can be effectively fulfilled
Rather than focus all the energy on futile attempts to get to the perfect forecast, it makes far more sense, in my view, to develop greater responsiveness capability in the supply network. The global virtual factory is the way to begin to get there.
The above trends have led us to invest in a Perfect Factory solution, a KPI driven and real time system to address the requirements of plant agility and consumer driven manufacturing through a virtual factory network. Performance Management – real time visibility and health of operations from the factories across the supply chain is the initial focus. In today's world this is a challenge in itself as companies are inundated with a multitude of plant floor systems across their network. The integration approach today offers lot of flexibility in exchanging information across the systems, and in providing valuable analyses in the form of dashboards and pre-processed analyses that make decision making much faster.
Once we do have the virtual factory network in place, the foundation is laid for an analytics layer and Real time Response management systems. Our strong capabilities in Big Data will take our solution a quantum leap ahead towards informed decision making that is close to real time.
The solution will extend itself to true Value Chain Optimization when manufacturing and supply chain systems talk to each other seamlessly, there by achieving? an optimized forecast with ideal capacity utilization., The organization becomes simultaneously nimble and cost sensitive while being dynamic enough to address varying consumer needs.