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SCM Poultry - Which comes first? The chicken or the egg? (New Village Crier)

One of the biggest disconnects I have observed is in how parts are added to our system.  In an ideal world, engineers would pull from existing inventory or reuse parts we have previously sourced and like would be grand.  Supply chain would ensure that parts arrived when needed and they negotiated the best price for them. Even better, that there were multiple sources of supply giving them the flexibility to choose different distributors without having to alter engineering BOMs.

 

In practice, it rarely works like this. Maybe its because life is different in A&D, project based work (as opposed to consumer products). The most likely scenario is that engineering comes up with a design for something. The assembly includes models downloaded from websites or quickly mocked up from 2D sketches in a parts catalog.  Either way, sourcing is locked in at that point.  Reuse checks occur, if they've numbered it right, when they try to check it in and see that the model already exists in the system. The BOM will be generated from these models, released and passed down to supply chain. Please go buy this and we need it yesterday.

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Every engineer has their own go to catalogs and way of modeling. What you end up with is incorrect part numbers, non-standard names, half done models (good enough for one use but not precise enough for general use), duplicates, you name it.

 

On the opposite extreme would be the request process. Engineering would request some component be added to the system. Supply chain would be involved to respond to the request. They would source the part, handling naming and numbering, classify the part for search and later reuse. Finally, engineering would be delivered a Part or model that they can use in their design.

 

The first process is quick, allows data to flow downhill (however, lots of things flow downhill) and handles the majority of simple cases. Its not possible to create all parts in our systems nor is it possible to predict what will be needed in the future. The latter process is controlled and free of error but too slow. Engineering will be unwilling to wait for a part that they can see in a catalog or website that meets their needs on a hot job.  They will just make it.

 

So which is it? Does this vary by industry? Do parts originate in ERP? PDMLink? Wildfire Creo? I will be grappling this issue in 2011. I suspect is both, a hybrid solution. Step one would be to get my house in order. Standard naming and classification.  Step two would be to give engineering the tools to reuse what we have and supply chain visibilty to see what coming down from engineering.  Step three? Don't know yet. It might be larger issues like spec based parts or internally assigned numbering to supplier parts. All I know is that it will be a busy year.