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How Agilent Technologies Measures Up

Ethan Hunt, supply chain consultant with Agilent Technologies, talks about the challenges his company faces in gaining full visibility of supply and demand, and in dealing with increasing supply-chain volatility.

How Agilent Technologies Measures Up

Agilent is a leading test and measurement equipment company for high-tech, life sciences and chemical analysis. On the supply-chain side, the company's primary goals are on-time customer delivery and product quality, the latter of which is "a huge differentiator for us," says Hunt. "Inside our supply chain, we're looking for efficiency [and] continual improvement."

Agilent runs an unconstrained supply plan, meaning that customers can unexpectedly order product at just about any time. "It's a challenge that we're willing to take in," says Hunt.

Bills of material can be complex, based on a configure-to-order process. Validating them requires something more sophisticated than traditional spreadsheets. In addition, the company needs to be able to forecast demand for parts well into the future - in some cases as long as 10 years.

Data-warehousing software helps Agilent to efficiently manage the supply-and-demand balance, despite running two separate instances of enterprise resource planning systems, Hunt says. The company's level of responsiveness to customer orders "is essential to remaining competitive."

Formerly a part of Hewlett-Packard Co., the now-independent Agilent has had to cope with a number of homegrown legacy systems. Over the last five years, it has refined the IT infrastructure to streamline the movement of key data from contract manufacturers to other parts of the supply chain. It is working with Kinaxis and can now run simulations before choosing the optimal scenario for satisfying demand.

The company's biggest challenge lies in the handling of new-product introductions. "We are having to bring our products to market faster than ever before," says Hunt.

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Keywords: supply chain, supply chain management, high-tech supply chain, inventory management, inventory control, supply chain planning, sourcing solutions

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