It’s a challenging time for manufacturers and yet an exciting one too. Rarely have there been greater opportunities for global trading than there are today, and there is huge potential for growth. In developing markets especially, however, unless these opportunities are managed efficiently, increasing costs – of inventory in particular – make it ever more difficult to protect gross margins.
The never-ending quest for progress demands continuous innovation, yet many of the systems that are in place to support manufacturing operations today are deeply embedded, legacy applications that are difficult either to replace, or to improve in any way that adds real value.
So how do manufacturers gain a competitive advantage under these conditions?
One proven method is to take control of manufacturing by means of improved supply chain visibility, so that human ingenuity and common sense can regain control.
There is a clear and direct link between improving the flow of information and improving the flow of materials. In other words, by keeping your finger on the pulse of change, manufacturers remain agile and in control, and able to manage ever-increasing levels of complexity and variety.
So how do you find a solution provider that will be flexible enough for your manufacturing business’ needs, and what are your constraints?
Cost is often the first consideration and there are many all-singing, all-dancing solutions that would be ideal but unfortunately cost a small fortune.
On the other end of the scale, many of the lower cost options are pretty inflexible and while they may help solve some issues, there’s more often than not, a compromise in terms of functionality.
WAERlinx is a purpose-built suite of applications (Kitting, Kanban, RFID, WMS, VMI, Capacity Management) with a background in the demanding field of Aerospace supply chain management that is flexible by design. Customers can choose the applications that meet their requirements, with no need to change their existing ERP and MES systems in order to get there. WAERlinx simply bolts on, to enhance and improve what already exists.
WAERlinx’ purpose-built console of operational and management information, presented using information gathered from multiple systems and facilities within the organisation, helps to:
- Eliminate spreadsheet dependency
- Provide clear insight into manufacturing capacity (demonstrated vs. available), sales orders and a consensus forecast, for planning purposes
- Make use of event-based alerts – for example, production order completions, backflush events, demand shortages, changes to order dates, high-cost transactions etc. – to trigger immediate response actions
- Highlight material consumption patterns, exposing problems that may have remained hidden. For example, highlight the use of material that may not be on the manufacturing BOM, or which has a lower-cost alternative
- Keep track of high-value reusable containers, either using RFID or barcode scanning
- Keep track of quality-related information, for example by integration with an SPC tool
- Integrate new manufacturing operations and supporting facilities quickly and without risk – In an M&A scenario this is, of course, vital
- Provide visibility of material in transit using dedicated functions within the application, or by seamless integration with an external transport management system
- Provide accurate costing of material usage, with a fully-auditable transaction history.
… and reduce costs
- Take control of complex and dynamic shop floor inventory by means of barcode scanning to track actual consumption, eliminating waste of over- or under-utilised material
- Kanban replenishment of manufacturing work centres, even in complex multi-site scenarios; the application helps to eliminate the barriers (including inventory ‘buffers’) that can sometimes be caused by physical distance between a point of need and its source of supply
- Control the flow of inbound material by using proven warehouse management functions, fully integrated with existing ERP or MES systems
- Make the most of opportunities to utilise existing owned inventory, instead of buying new
- Highlight the use of expensive, non-standard items when less expensive standard items may be used instead
- Manage spare parts or aftermarket inventory that may be stored in dedicated locations with different processing rules
- Provide suppliers with the means to deploy consigned material , and to manage the replenishment of it based on forecast, actual consumption, firm demands, or any combination thereof. Proven features help to ensure stronger long-term relationships with trading partners, by allowing them to act like extended factories within your own organisation
- Perform light assembly operations, either in the supplying warehouse or another location away from the main production line, and deliver these to their actual point of need on a just-in-time basis, thereby improving the utilisation of skilled assemblers as well as manufacturing cycle time
- Improve the efficiency of a single piece flow operation, by improving the availability of materials in terms of quality, quantity and time.