Knowing how to effectively manage fuel costs is an important skill for 3PL providers, particularly in the current environment of volatile and spiking oil prices, says Skip Wendel, global vice president for consumer and retail at UTi Worldwide.
With all of the advances in forecasting technology and software, it's tempting to conclude that people don't need to play a direct role in the process anymore. But the opposite is true, says Jonathon Karelse, vice president of corporate development and strategic planning with Wholesale Tire Distributors.
Once a new technology tool becomes embedded in the business world, one tends to forget the doubt and confusion that marked its debut. As anyone over the age of 30 will recall, companies once debated the value of having websites. Early users of the internet were actively hostile to the notion of a network that was created for the defense and academic communities being co-opted by the commercial sector. Now, of course, any business that isn't on the internet is either utterly clueless or not serious about being a success. Yet we seem to be having the same debate all over again, this time centering on the proper role of social media.
There are two major challenges that companies face today in forecasting, says Bob Leonard, vice president of sales with Forecast Pro. One is the push to drive down to more detail, including smaller time buckets. The other is the need to treat forecasting as an analytical task, instead of just clerical work.
Valogix LLC, a vendor of inventory planning and optimization software for small and mid-sized businesses, has created the Valogix Inventory Planning SuiteApp, built on the NetSuite Suite Cloud Computing Platform.
Avnet provides leading-edge supply chain visibility solutions to OEM customers that have extended global supply chains and significant contract manufacturing operations. These supply chains often are highly complex and very geographically dispersed.
Software AG has introduced iKnow, a visibility product for managing the order-to-cash process. According to the vendor, the new tool provides users with the knowledge and context needed to detect and diagnose supply-chain anomalies in real time.
Downstream demand signals have been available in the retail world for some time now, but it has taken a while for suppliers to take full advantage of them. Mark Kremblewski, global business expert in demand planning with Procter & Gamble, likens the situation to the mining industry, which trades in deposits of both high- and low-grade ore. The latter type is more plentiful, but it's the first that offers the biggest payback from a better use of demand data in unpredictable situations.