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As important as ERP and MRP systems may be to a company, it is critical to have visibility into one's supply chain, both in real time and through what-if scenarios, says Mike Keltz, IT integrator at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics.
Visibility, of course, is not an issue solely for manufacturers of airplanes. But it is a major challenge for companies with worldwide reach, and that certainly describes Lockheed Martin Aeronautics, which is among the premier manufacturers of tactical and cargo aircraft for the military.
The pain can be felt when fluctuations occur in the supply chain, so it's crucial to have as complete a view into the operations of suppliers (and their suppliers as well) as one can, Keltz says. Otherwise, overall operations are jeopardized, not least of whose are the customers.
Greater visibility would also enable forecasters and planners to work more efficiently. That, coupled with top-notch supply chain management becomes the differentiating factor among competitors, Keltz says.
A world-class supply chain needs enterprise resource planning and manufacturing resource planning systems "to actually keep the business going," Keltz says. But they don't give you the view into fluctuations and challenges, nor do they allow yo to do what-if analysis. The latter is key; one must run such simulations before making any changes, such as altering scheduling agreements or adjusting lead times. Keltz says the what-if analysis enabled by the RapidResponse solution from Kinaxis has been invaluable to Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. "You can actually see what the effect will be of making changes before you invest some very expensive dollars."
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