Tag Archive: inventory

Inventory or Capacity?

November 18th, 2019

Inventory has emerged as a hot topic lately. In today’s Amazon-impacted business environment, customers expect rapid, customized deliveries, the ability to change their mind anytime and easy interactions (placing orders, returns etc.). Since clients are growing, they are also concerned with keeping up with the increasing volume. Thus, they have responded  by stocking more inventory to support increased sales and to respond to these increasing expectations.

However, as clients are taking a step back, they see inventory tying up bunches of cash unnecessarily.  Just because they have more inventory doesn’t mean they have the ‘right’ inventory in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. Inventory not only ties up cash, but it also increases costs. We are hearing about concerns regarding space, efficiencies, transportation cost impacts and more. In essence, there is a double hit to cash and profit yet the appropriate level of inventory (varies by network and strategy) is required to meet customer expectations.

In addition to pursuing inventory improvement programs to maximize your service, cash and margins such as SIOP (sales, inventory and operations planning) and proactive vendor managed inventory/ collaborative inventory programs, you might want to consider your capacity.

We had a client a few years ago who called because service issues had started to arise and customers were angry. Leadership thought the the operations team was under-performing because there must be something wrong with them since sales revenues were not increasing over 5% a year.

As we dug into the issue, we found that the product mix changed significantly which drove a greater level of operations requirements for the same dollar volume. When this occurred in the past, it didn’t create a problem (lending support to the perception that the operations team was at fault).  Yet, it turns out that as people left, they stopped replacing them because they wanted to bring down costs.

In the past, since they had excess capacity (machinery) and a small excess level of trained, highly skilled direct labor resources, they could produce what was needed as conditions changed without a problem. They no longer could use this magic bullet!

Would it make sense to maintain excess capacity/skills in a key bottleneck area of your operation (whether manufacturing, technical or office)?

If you’d like to talk about your inventory and/or capacity situation further, please contact us.



Should I Upgrade Now or Later?

October 10th, 2019

A Client Question
Since we have a simple reorder point system largely in place and we plan to focus on an ERP upgrade in the coming year, should we continue to roll out MRP (material requirements planning) and DRP (distribution requirements planning) or should we just put our efforts into the new ERP system?

In this case, there is still much of the planning process that is done manually. However, a manual process could be good or bad. Employees forced to perform manual processes learn the process in detail yet they might not understand why they are doing what they are doing. Would there be a larger benefit in learning the process in the current system and then re-learning in the new one or vice-versa? After all, resources are limited and the people performing these roles understand key customer requirements in detail. How should we best utilize their time for maximum benefit?

The Answer
In this case, resources are limited. So, the key question becomes how to best leverage the planners to meet customer expectations while getting ready to support the future. Since the simple reorder point works but only to a degree (since they cannot see their bill of materials explosion) in this case, the rest has to be manually calculated. When looking at a configure-to-order situation across multiple sites not connected by DRP, inventory disappears and the complexity of planning materials increases. Also, unfortunately, the only resource that gains an understanding of MRP / DRP concepts is the material planner. The production planners remain unclear as to how these concepts apply. So, it makes sense to roll out the concepts in the current system so that the team gains exposure to how it works. This understanding will prove valuable in implementing the new system, and most importantly, if the material planners do not have to spend countless hours manually calculating numbers, they can provide better service to customers, as well as contribute valuable input in setting up the new system for success.

Food For Thought
Although the MPS/ MRP module of ERP systems can be valuable in improving service and reducing inventory, they do not always make sense. Take a step back to look at the complexities in your planning process. Have you overbuilt the process? We also find that simplifying creates substantial improvement for almost every client. Perhaps you should simplify rather than add complexity, even if you already own the system or your key resources think complexity is needed. At least 80% of the time, we simplify to some degree.  We might take what seems like a step back to simplify in order to take a giant leap forward.

If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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Which Inventory Planning Method is Best?
Systems Pragmatist



Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Sees Impacts of Artificial Intelligence on Manufacturing Profit, Inventory Levels and Cash

September 20th, 2019

Manufacturing Expert, Lisa Anderson, Sees Impacts of
Artificial Intelligence on Manufacturing Profit, Inventory Levels and Cash

CLAREMONT, CALIFORNIA – September 19, 2019 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert,  Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc., predicts that artificial intelligence (AI) and human learning will impact most aspects of manufacturing resulting in improved profits, inventory levels and cash.

“Our manufacturing clients have really embraced the power of AI since the first of the year.  From improved forecast accuracy impacting inventory levels to more openly working with changing customer needs and the overall customer experience, manufacturers are seeing the effects of using this data,” Ms. Anderson commented. LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth.

“Despite the fact that manufacturing, especially in Inland Southern California continues to be strong, manufacturers need to be smart. By integrating AI with tried and true techniques such as SIOP (Sales, Inventory and Operations Planning) and taking advantage of predictive analytics and other human learning technologies in conjunction with ERP systems, manufacturers can become better at forecasting and exceeding customer expectations.  In fact, for every one percent improvement in forecast accuracy, there can be a seven percent improvement in inventory levels and therefore cashflow,” she said.

In an effort to support clients, Ms. Anderson is active with the Board of Directors of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, where she represents the Logistics Council whose initiative is developing a consortium for logistics, supply chain and advanced manufacturing success. “AI and other forms of technology are transforming manufacturing as we know it. From reevaluating sourcing and enabling robots to predictive maintenance and shortened design times, AI offers up vast potential. Successful manufacturers are strengthening their hold. Supply chain and other manufacturing professionals are sharpening their skills to take advantage of these resources. It takes work, smart management and a strong team to be successful. A perfect storm for manufacturing success. The evidence is in the growth we see in Inland Southern California (also known as the Inland Empire),” she concluded.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson is a recognized Supply Chain thought leader by SelectHub, named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, a top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.
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Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com   
                                                        



Is there an ROI on a Forecasting System?

September 12th, 2019

A Client Question
Since forecasting can deliver significant benefits with increased levels of service, inventory turnover and margin improvement, the question that inevitably arises is whether it makes sense to purchase a forecasting or demand planning system. Of course, the answer is: “It depends”.

In one client situation, goods were manufactured in Mexico and purchased from Asia. Key customers were large retail outlets. Demand seemed to change daily.  Yet, lead times were in the months if the ‘right’ stock wasn’t in the ‘right’ place at the ‘right’ time. Of course, they could cover some small changes by adding freight costs but that isn’t a recipe for profit. Improving the forecast would improve their success. So, the question turned to whether a system would have a ROI.

The Answer
In their case, they could achieve a rapid return on investment by using a forecasting system. However, let me say upfront that more often than not, I do not recommend a system. It completely depends on whether it will drive the appropriate level of improvement and associated results or not. In this case, we could easily drive dramatic forecast accuracy improvement since we started out at such a low level of accuracy due to the business environment, industry and key customers. The people understood the importance of the providing forecast feedback and although the key customers didn’t have “good” forecasts to provide, they could provide data we could analyze. In these types of situations, we are able to reduce inventory by a minimum of 20%.  It should be noted, though, that results can be far greater.

Food For Thought
Although forecasting systems can be a great idea to drive service, inventory and margin improvement, they do not always provide a return. Take a step back to understand your industry from a forecasting point-of-view:

  • Is demand constantly changing?
  • Are you supporting small numbers of customer/location points with less than 25 items or is it 100 fold?
  • Are you able to gain key customer input and/or point-of-sale data?
  • Do you have anyone familiar with demand planning and forecasting to be able to make sense of what a system is telling you?
  • And, last but definitely not least, have you found the appropriate scale for your forecasting system?

Trying to kill a fly with an assault rifle is overkill. If you are interested in running your situation by us, contact us.

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The Strategic Benefit of SIOP
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Systems Pragmatist



Manufacturing and Distribution Expert, Lisa Anderson, Confirms Inventory, Cost and Logistics Pressures in Supply Chain

July 12th, 2019

CLAREMONT, CA,  July 9, 2019 –  Manufacturing and Supply Chain Expert Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD, president of LMA Consulting Group Inc. confirms that supply chain resiliency requires acute attention to inventory and cost pressures for manufacturers and distributors.  As predicted in her 2019 forecast, “Manufacturing & Supply Chain in the New Normal”, ever-changing customer needs, increased expectations, tight labor and transportation challenges are the ‘new normal’ and key issues for manufacturing and the supply chain.

Economic volatility and what Ms. Anderson calls the Amazon Effect – high customer expectations requiring rapid deliveries, accessibility and flexible, customized service – is putting pressure on costs and inventory levels.

“It’s like the perfect storm, tariffs, last minute changes, rapid delivery requirements and increased customer demands are challenging the supply chain. In turn, inventory levels are increasing.  Add in elevated labor and logistics costs and it gets tougher and tougher to control costs,” Ms. Anderson explains.

The result is an increased focus on improving inventory turns to accelerate cash flow, as well as an emphasis on re-shoring and near-sourcing.

“Aligning sales forecasts with operational capabilities is critical for manufacturers to thrive. In our 14 years of consulting, sales, inventory and operations planning (SIOP) has consistently delivered the strongest increase in business value. Leveraging best practices in demand planning and better aligning sales forecasts with operational capabilities will drive significant improvements in customer performance and the bottom line,” she says.

LMA Consulting Group works with manufacturers and distributors on strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation to maximize the customer experience and enable profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. As a result of her work with manufacturers and distributors and financial knowledge of factors affecting the bottom line, Ms. Anderson has been appointed by the Logistics Council of the Inland Empire Economic Partnership (IEEP) to lead the effort to develop a consortium for logistics, supply chain and advanced manufacturing success.

“Inland Southern California leads California in job creation and manufacturing growth. We are in an ideal situation to become a global leader in logistics, advanced manufacturing and export excellence. I’m very excited to be spearheading the effort with the IEEP to create a Consortium of Excellence to support the future of the industry and accelerate regional growth,” she says.

About LMA Consulting Group – Lisa Anderson, MBA, CSCP, CLTD

Lisa Anderson is the founder and president of LMA Consulting Group, Inc., a consulting firm that specializes in manufacturing strategy and end-to-end supply chain transformation.  She focuses on maximizing the customer experience and enabling profitable, scalable, dramatic business growth. Ms. Anderson has been named a Top 40 B2B Tech Influencer by arketi group, a 50 ERP Influencer by Washington-Frank, ranked in the top 46 most influential in Supply Chain by SAP and named a top woman influencer by Solutions Review. She recently published, I’ve Been Thinking, an inspiring collection of 101 strategies for creating bold customer promises and profits. A regular content contributor on topics including providing a superior customer experience with SIOP, advancing innovation and making the supply chain resilient, Ms. Anderson is regularly interviewed and quoted by publications such as Industry Week, tED magazine and the Wall Street Journal.  For information, to sign up for her Profit Through PeopleTM Newsletter or for a copy of her book, visit LMA-ConsultingGroup.com.
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Media Contact
Kathleen McEntee | Kathleen McEntee & Associates, Ltd. | p. (760) 262 – 4080 | KMcEntee@KMcEnteeAssoc.com