Manufacturing Intelligence and Supply Chain

Manufacturing Intelligence and Supply Chain

Grace Neeley, Supply Chain Director, North America, Maxcess International

Grace Neeley, Supply Chain Director, North America, Maxcess International

Manufacturing Intelligence is gathering information to make your manufacturing process and your business better. After being in the Supply Chain realm in manufacturing companies for over ten years, I have seen improvements in how we acquire information to make our jobs easier, leading to positive change. With continuous updates to ERP systems, we gain the ability to make better decisions about our company’s future that lead to an enhanced ability to gather data.

I have always worked with ERP systems that held information we need, but, in recent years, the advancement of Data Analytics programs that tie directly into ERP systems has improved the collection of data. Currently, Data Analytics are replacing Excel SQL queries in some areas within my organization. Of course, the quote “garbage in, garbage out” still holds true. If we do not ensure that we have correct information input into our ERP system, then our output is tainted. For instance, in the shop, if the jobs are not tracked properly (an operator working multiple jobs at the same time but only clocking into one), then the hours calculated will be skewed. On the Purchasing side, it is as imperative to ensure correct data. If we do not ensure that our Purchase Orders’ values (spend and expected delivery date) are updated and correct, the information housed in our Data Analytics software will become questionable.

“With continuous updates to ERP systems, we gain the ability to make better decisions about our company’s future that lead to an enhanced ability to gather data”

My favorite feature of our Data Analytics software is the ability to see how many PO’s we have created, what the value is, and how many lines created. This information helps to determine if I have enough resources and shows a trend in the activity. Before our Data Analytics software, this material was not readily available; coming from Excel queries, or by directly digging into our ERP software to try to pull this data. Our Data Analytics software also provides information on on-time delivery and quality discrepancies upon receipt. We use this information in conversations with our suppliers, letting them know where they stand based on the goals we have in place. If we begin to see a supplier falter during our frequent monitoring, then we can begin conversations on how to correct the issue(s).

One of my company’s challenges is the use of three ERP systems in North America alone. Two of our ERP systems allow for easy pull of data. Multiple sites use the Data Analytics system mentioned above; a few sites from a recent merger utilize a software that allows users to pull reports effectively, and another site’s data is more difficult to acquire because it must be pulled directly from the system. How do we work around this challenge? Using Excel, we can pull data from multiple systems, compile it into one spreadsheet, and use pivot tables and Vlookup to compare information, while eliminating duplications of data per supplier. This allows us to have a complete conversation with our suppliers based on total business volume. Eventually, all sites will be on the same ERP system, but ERP implementations can take years. Until we are all in the same system, we will continue to work around this.

I see Manufacturing Intelligence in my company constantly evolving. The same system used to provide manufacturing information to improve standards and contribute to process improvements is also used to make better supply (and supplier) decisions.

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