System Integration & Control Systems Design


Global supply chain management - it is all coming together

December 2000 System Integration & Control Systems Design

While most manufacturers are focusing on improving the efficiency of their supply chains on a local level, there are many who have to do so on the international playing field while coping with the additional complexities in logistics management that this entails.

"One of the most vital and determining factors in coping with complex supply chain logistics is asset tagging and tracking," says Mike le Plastrier, MD of Futuristix-Wonderware. "Today, we have tools that help manufacturers cope with this and other issues in a more integrated way than ever before while focusing on the company's real business issues. The InTrack implementation at Toyota's warehouse at Prospecton, for example, tracks every single accessory, part and component from the moment of loading in Japan until the item is unpacked at its final destination in Durban. This level of control provides Toyota with unprecedented levels of control of all stock items as well as dramatic cost and time savings." The totally automated Manufacturing Logistics Centre (MLC) was designed, installed and fine-tuned for Toyota South Africa by Streamworks Group, a South African leader in the field of supply chain management and industrial information technology. The system has enabled Toyota to manage their cargo flow from the time of shipping until it is physically dispatched to the various production plants in such a way as to complete scheduled assemblies on time despite problems with harbour backlogs.

In fact, Toyota is now leaving all its stock in the harbour and only drawing what is needed for that day's production requirements. The system also provides rapid turnaround from the time of placing a phone call. Once at the factory, it takes just 22 minutes to de-van the container and the stock is then available - a total of harbour-to-production time of just one and a half hours.

"Such flexibility and control was unheard of just a few years ago but it is rapidly becoming part of everyday reality and will soon be as commonplace as standard stock control. When such a tracking system is integrated with production planning and Customer Order Management (COM) systems, manufacturers have an unprecedented level of flexibility to compete profitably while focusing on their business objectives. This bottoms-up approach to manufacturing is getting the attention of an increasing number of local and global players alike. These players are starting to operate ERP and financial systems in their right context while allocating more resources to solutions that will directly contribute to the success of their operational and production processes - those that create the wealth.

"So supply chain management is taking on yet another dimension. From a supplier half a world away to a customer who will probably soon be able to see his or her car graphically assembled in realtime over the Internet. A pipe dream? Probably not. Because reality IS starting to become stranger than fiction - and far more productive."



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