Dionne explains TriQuint's supply chain and its use of the RapidResponse solution this way: "We are an RF technology company," she says. "We manufacture semiconductor die, which we use to build modules that have a range of applications - anything sending or receiving a signal might use our products. We have the challenge of managing key materials for manufacturing and also the challenge of dealing with the demand variability of whoever we ship to, which might be a cell phone manufacturer or a networking station or a satellite company. And variability in these markets can be huge. With mobile phones, for example, there is a new product about every nine months and we may only have a couple of months' notice as to whether we are in or out of any one phone. We needed a tool that would give us the ability to look at multiple possible futures and understand what each would mean to the bottom line. That's why the RapidResponse scenario planning tools really got our attention."
Swanson says it's common knowledge that forecasting isn't very accurate in any industry, "especially one as volatile as ours." But, he says, "With RapidResponse, we can look at a lot of different "˜what if' scenarios -- what if we win this one, what if we don't, what if we charge this amount or something else. We can study these and come up with a capital resource plan on where we need to invest in more equipment or resources."
In addition, says Swanson, "RapidResponse also uses a calculation that looks at multiple levels of the bill of materials and makes sure that every component is available to finish the job as promised. Our current ERP system does not allow that - it looks at one level at a time and assumes that things will be done on the due date. RapidResponse tells us when it will really be done and if it is not by the due date, it tells us what is causing the delay, so it give us a true picture of when inventory will really be available. The benefits from that have been immeasurable - we can find out if an order is going to be late in time to do something about it."
Dionne says TriQuint did not have a good inventory analysis capability before. "When the business climate changed in the recent downturn, we suddenly started to see inventory growth where we were not expecting it. RapidResponse has a bunch of inventory analysis tools that allow us to manage that sort of satiation. We actually have built this into our sales and operations planning processes, so now we do do multiple scenarios for S&OP before we choose one that we think is appropriate for our business plan."
Swanson says the company is able to project inventory much better than before, which has helped eliminate quite a bit of excess. "It also is helping us in terms of customer response. We can take a customer forecast on any day and instead of it taking us several weeks to come back with the impact of that different forecast, we can have it in a matter of 20 minutes. We simply plug the new forecast into a specific work sheet and we can quickly see the impact throughout the entire supply chain, so we can react so much quicker to volatility than ever before."
To view Laura Dionne's video in its entirety, click here
To view J.P. Swanson's video in its entirety, click here
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