Reinventing Your Approach to Supply Chains Using Enterprise Quality Management Solutions

In the electronics and high-tech industries, the supply chain stretches globally. Most outsourced production, logistics, support and even design services take place around the world. Managing these various stakeholders effectively and efficiently requires central harmonized and standardized processes with adequate visibility and transparency to management.  It’s imperative that companies manage suppliers using an integrated enterprise quality management system that is repeatable, with processes that are understood by all the relevant players.  Dashboards should enable suppliers and the enterprise to act as a cohesive unit allowing visibility and access to a shared vision and values. It is essential to manage suppliers in various geographical regions based on their commercial risk, performance capabilities, strategic development and corporate vision. This is not a trivial task considering the complexity and the sheer volume of data one must manage for effective supplier qualification and quality management.  Suppliers gain visibility on their performance through their own performance dashboard, respond to events or Failure Reporting Analysis and Corrective Action Software (FRACAS) tasks directly online, respond to queries and audit findings, etc.  They are an integral part of the extended enterprise, thus offering the enterprise supply chain, procurement/sourcing and management use of a common data source.  The benefits include increased efficiencies, the ability to ramp up NPI quicker and avoid broken supply chain processes. 

An article highlighting 3M’s manufacturing supply chain distribution model was posted in the Wall Street Journal on May 17, 2012.  It detailed the challenges faced by the existing supply chain of their product, Command Strip. The article stated it took 3M 100 days of cycle time and travel of 1,350 miles between 4 states before the product was packaged for the local market. When command strips needed to be produced for the rest of the world, unfinished bulk product was shipped to local partners for further processing.  This required more work, more time and higher logistics costs based only on the traditional way they did business.  3M also maintained spare inventory at each of the intermediate production sites in case of delayed incoming material which added to inventory carrying costs. Now multiply this process paradigm to 65,000 products produced at 214 plants in 41 countries, not to mention the sheer volume of suppliers and additional costs.  As a result, the decision was made to drastically overhaul 3M’s supply chain process.  They will create global 'super hubs', 14 in all, which would be closely located and capable of producing a multitude of products for local markets.  This would cut the cycle times, remove excess inventory, produce what is needed and become more nimble with lower number of suppliers and dramatically improve efficiencies.

Many companies in this industry are turning to enterprise quality management systems that allow them to optimize quality, ensure compliance and reduce operational costs and risks.  Flexible and configurable EQMS software allows enterprises to adapt to company-specific business processes, enabling users to define, track, manage and report on the core activities and processes vital to their success.  The efficiency and effectiveness of these holistic quality systems are improved through interactive integration with other existing enterprise-level quality management software.

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