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Service bottlenecks, material availability, engineering, tooling and skilled labor are a few of the many factors that can put a supply chain at risk. Even the most valuable and successful supply streams can experience issues that threaten the build effort at a manufacturing company. Typically, this occurs because a decision is made to change something: Alter the engineering, increase the demand, cut cost or introduce a new system. With hopes of something great, there can be negative results. In extreme situations, change can put such a strain on a supply management organization and its partners that an organization must get involved to maintain the product schedule and support its core business. The Boeing Company has a program called "supplier assist."
As decisions are made to improve the product, reduce the cost or develop a supplier, situations can occur that put the entire operation at risk. In extreme cases, where there is risk to the critical-path schedule, Boeing executives may choose to sponsor a supplier-assist venture.
Such projects involve the presence of Boeing resources on-site at a supplier facility for a specified period of time to oversee and support the supplier in business and operations. The teams deployed to the supplier can include members from engineering functions, project management, supply chain scheduling, ordering functions and the like.
The objective of the supplier-assist function is to reduce risk to the critical-path schedule by identifying the root cause of supply interruption, participating in resolution planning and supporting execution with skilled resources to the supplier. Industries besides manufacturing can find value in supplier assist, as well. It is a tool used to resolve supply chain bottlenecks, whether it be a piece of a jet or software for a financial institution.
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