How Procurement Professionals Can Prevent Fulfillment Pitfalls

By Scott Anderson on 19 June, 2019

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With the news of backlogs at record highs this year, industry OEMs and suppliers are looking for ways to ramp up production to meet demand. Meeting these needs can become challenging when fulfillment issues arise. According to forecast experts like Deloitte, manufacturers in 2019 should be focused on strengthening their supply chains, more effectively managing projects, and leveraging advanced technology to increase efficiency. As OEMs and suppliers both contemplate ways to meet demand, here are a few things all procurement professionals should look for in suppliers to prevent fulfillment pitfalls.

Agile and lean manufacturing

Agile manufacturing is all about setting yourself up for speed, efficiency, and convenience. Customer demands can fluctuate, and when manufacturers are agile they can quickly and nimbly pivot with these adjustments. Lean manufacturing is the sturdy and strong foundation required in order for agility to be possible. Small batches, continuous flow production, and quick changeovers are all key components of lean manufacturing. Agile manufacturing builds on top of lean processes and implements four key elements: modular product design, information technology, corporate partners, and knowledge culture.

Safety Stock

When demand rises but the supply isn’t available to fulfill that demand, the entire manufacturing process comes to a halt. Inventory management is one of the key components of fulfillment success, and one of the ways to stay at the top of your inventory game is to maintain safety (or buffer) stock. Maintaining safety stock of key items can reduce the likelihood of out of stock supplies, but space and budget can both be an issue. The good news is, many reliable suppliers will keep safety stock. Whether they decide to order larger amounts for an OEM in case the order increases or the cost is less to order in bulk, suppliers often strategically maintain safety stock to be prepared for these pitfalls and have the controlled areas to store it.

The right ERP

Reliability, customization, and accuracy are nonnegotiables for OEMs and suppliers when it comes to streamlining fulfillment. Comprehensive Enterprise Resource Planning software can foster clear, concise information across a business as well as manage expectations for a variety of departments. The right ERP can integrate every facet of a project; from product planning and design to manufacturing and marketing. Designated individuals have access to relevant information through each phase of the lifecycle. The ability to cost-effectively customize the software is critical to the support of customer-specific requirements as well as evolving standards and regulations.

Reexamined BOM’s

Demand-driven material requirements planning (DDMRP) is causing many OEMs and suppliers to take another look at the way they approach and use their Bills of Material (BOM’s). DDMRP relies on examining inventory levels through the lens of existing supply and pending orders, adds buffer stock strategically into the equation, and determines the level of demand and appropriate response. Strategic buffer stock is considered within the BOM based on the frequency with which a particular part is usually used, ever-changing lead times, and the phase at which certain supply could potentially run out of stock. When supplier procurement professionals examine their needed and existing materials through this more expansive lens based on demand, they’re less likely to face unexpected depletion.

Fewer sourcing partners

This might sound counterintuitive, but OEMs wanting to lower the risk of fulfillment pitfalls might want to consider the benefits of partnering with a few key partners or even a single source supplier for manufacturing needs. When you select a long-term partner, a relationship can be built and strengthened from an earned trust. You can also take the time to create the rapport that allows more integrated systems and streamlined communication. Not to mention, trends and habits learned over time spent together can become the foundation for intuitively predicting and anticipating inventory needs.

To learn more about avoiding fulfillment pitfalls, or to speak with an expert about partnering with a trusted supplier, contact Liberty Electronics today.

Topics: Process Improvement, Fulfillment

Author: Scott Anderson

Mr. Anderson joined Liberty Electronics as Manager of Engineering in July of 1999. In 2010 he was appointed Director of Business Development. He previously worked as a project engineer at Pratt and Whitney Aircraft and at Joy Mining Machinery. At Joy, Scott went on to manage international projects including quality improvement initiatives, computer system implementations, and new product development programs.
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