Executive Briefings

Motorola's Supply Chain Transformation

New-product development and a complete makeover of its supply chain came simultaneously for Motorola. Ann Deardorff, senior director of quality and strategy, outlines some of the challenges the electronics giant has faced so far in this ongoing project.

It's been a fascinating year or so for Motorola because not only did it have to cope with the recession like everyone else, it had to completely change the landscape of its supply chain when its CEO mandated a new product portfolio.

Motorola was still marketing the Razr line of slim cell phones when management decided to move forward on smartphones with the Android operating system. "We had to look at three components of our supply chain-the physical flows, the informational flows and the financial footprint to see how they interacted."

It was determined that the physical had to step up its game in order to get product through various distribution nodes to customers. That, of course, required a corresponding acceleration in data flow. More build-to-order and customer-specific processes and production were needed.

People were a large part of the transformation effort as well. "We were an integrated supply chain in 2008," Deardorff says, "which meant our home and networks business, our enterprise mobility solutions business and our mobile devices business fought for the attention of the employees of the supply chain."

Clearly, labor had to be allocated where needed in order to achieve a successful just-in-time environment.

Systems were also problematic, with multiple ERP implementations required to communicate with each other across the globe. The technology end, so crucial to a business that needs greater agility and speed in handling a complex product mix, is still being worked on, Deardorff says.

While the transformation extends into the future, the company has achieved a tremendous amount, consolidating an estimated 70 percent of its footprint, according to Deardorff.

To view this video in its entirety, click here.

It's been a fascinating year or so for Motorola because not only did it have to cope with the recession like everyone else, it had to completely change the landscape of its supply chain when its CEO mandated a new product portfolio.

Motorola was still marketing the Razr line of slim cell phones when management decided to move forward on smartphones with the Android operating system. "We had to look at three components of our supply chain-the physical flows, the informational flows and the financial footprint to see how they interacted."

It was determined that the physical had to step up its game in order to get product through various distribution nodes to customers. That, of course, required a corresponding acceleration in data flow. More build-to-order and customer-specific processes and production were needed.

People were a large part of the transformation effort as well. "We were an integrated supply chain in 2008," Deardorff says, "which meant our home and networks business, our enterprise mobility solutions business and our mobile devices business fought for the attention of the employees of the supply chain."

Clearly, labor had to be allocated where needed in order to achieve a successful just-in-time environment.

Systems were also problematic, with multiple ERP implementations required to communicate with each other across the globe. The technology end, so crucial to a business that needs greater agility and speed in handling a complex product mix, is still being worked on, Deardorff says.

While the transformation extends into the future, the company has achieved a tremendous amount, consolidating an estimated 70 percent of its footprint, according to Deardorff.

To view this video in its entirety, click here.