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  Manufacturing Insights   |   April, 2008
Two Years Later: A Look at the Demand Driven Supply Chain Technology
by Thomas R. Cutler

Materials and Plant Managers improve productivity through automation of repetitive, time-consuming management functions as well as elimination of waste built into manual kanban card process. In a Demand Driven Supply Chain (DDSC) there is instant availability of real-time inventory data as well as an automatic calculation of proper replenishment levels.

Much has changed since first writing about Demand Driven Supply Chain issues and technology in the past two years since first authoring a feature for

1. Within the supply-chain: The lifecycle of a supply-chain has shortened and the need to economically and rapidly reconfigure a supply-chain has increased.

2. ERP developers continue to add marginal pull oriented supply-chain functionality but still do not understand they are a “node” in a network. Some call this the Microsoft syndrome, “the desktop is the center of the universe, not the net”.

3. Simplicity has more value today than at any point in history.

4. A half decade of people buying both at the business and personal level services such as broadband internet, IP phone service and web conferencing services has made SaaS an acceptable delivery vehicle for managing a demand driven supply-chain.

5. Off-shore out sourcing and rapid consolidation in manufacturing industry have made the ability to effective manage, or participate in a demand driven supply-chain the deference between survival or extinction.

There are dramatic difference about an on-demand digital kanban solution according to Stephen Parker, CEO of Datacraft Solutions who notes that Signum (their core DDSC Saas solution) is hosted on the company’s servers and backed by the company’s infrastructure, eliminate those cost to the enterprise as well as administrator to maintain the software and hardware. The SaaS (software as a solution) model establishes a DDSC with fixed monthly costs, paying only for what is needed and used. Cost of Ownership in a DDSC environment is easily calculated and contained.

Security issues are often expressed with the data is hosted outside the enterprise walls. Companies, like Datacraft Solutions have a server farm with 100% redundancy and three OC3 lines. Data is 99.999% secure, and users have never experienced down time, thanks to a Multiple UPS Power backup system and 900 kW Diesel Caterpillar generator. There are also Biometric scanners for Data Center Security for the physical access security to the server farm.

Additional savings are derived in a DDSC environment by freeing up man-hours typically wasted in communication follow-up and manually managing the kanban cards on the floor. There are other savings realized in reduced telephone calls and faxes, but more importantly, clients see improved supplier response time and delivery performance that translates into fewer stock-outs and lost production time in the plant.

Parker insists that a DDCS must become, “a lean manufacturer’s indispensable partner for building dependable and cost effective digital supply chain replenishment networks. Delivering a revolutionary process of automation solutions to lean manufacturers through a secure Internet gateway, while eliminating complicated, expensive, time-intensive software implementations, extensive training regiments, internal support nightmares.”

Some issues have not changed in two years....

Since writing about this subject two years ago some aspects of effective Supply Chain management have remained constant. Pressure to reduce lead times, expanding product lines, and global competition continues to drive the value of an effective DDSC solution, a lean manufacturing product that automates consumption driven replenishment across suppliers, customers, and the factory floor. The ability to provide an ASP model continues to allow for global visibility into the plant floor from anywhere in the world. An electronic pull-based supply chain solution which also provides real-time material flow status and intelligent demand load leveling is still vital and essential to lean automation processes.

Thomas R. Cutler is the President & CEO of Fort Lauderdale, Florida-based TR Cutler, Inc., the largest manufacturing marketing firm worldwide – Cutler is the founder of the Manufacturing Media Consortium of twenty seven hundred journalists and editors writing about trends in manufacturing. Cutler is also the author of the Manufacturers’ Public Relations and Media Guide. Cutler is a frequently published author within the manufacturing sector with more than 300 feature articles authored annually; he can be contacted at See More Details.

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