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Welch's supply chain "is performing well," declares Sean O'Sullivan, director of supply chain planning at the world's leading marketer of Concord and Niagara-based grape products. He backs up his claim with numbers: Comparing this year to last, he says, inventories are down 20 percent, all waste metrics are down and customer service, measured by case fill rate, is at 99.7 percent.
These numbers are the product of continuing supply chain transformation projects that O'Sullivan initiated after joining the company three years ago. "I was brought on to form a demand planning organization and to head up sales and operations (S&OP) planning," says O'Sullivan. A critical missing link for Welch's was the overall coordination of sales, marketing and the supply chain, he says. "So my role was to work collaboratively with sales, marketing and finance and to pull together a comprehensive S&OP process. Now we have a disciplined process to gather and assemble data, with regular meetings to work through these numbers and reach a consensus. Overall, this has helped us deliver terrific supply chain results. Our costs are dramatically down and service continues to be exceedingly strong, so we are delivering strong financial benefits to the organization."
Since its inception, this project has been expanded to include supply chain planning, which includes all production scheduling, O'Sullivan says. "One of the core elements of our success is our production process and the planning and scheduling related to that. We are making sure that we don't over-produce and, therefore, that we don't have inventories that go over age. To the extent that we are more disciplined in our production process, we have less waste and provide better products to our consumers."
Technology has recently given Welch's efforts a significant boost. O'Sullivan notes that the early part of this transformation was accomplished with minimal system support, but in the past six months the company implemented Oracle's demand management tool, Demantra. "This technology is helping us move forward dramatically and is enabling us to delivery really tremendous results," he says.
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