Una breve introducción a la temática de la materia Gestión de la Producción - Decisiones Tácticas
To stay competitive, a global business must meet demand through the integrative management of its supply chain. Mastering supply chain management can enable companies to increase market share, reduce costs, improve customer service, and increase market value through improvements in return on assets. In today’s business environment, quality and efficiency are no longer a source of competitiveness but rather expected and required. Thus, opportunities for growth and higher profitability often reside outside the company and within its supply chain. The field of competition has now shifted to the management of the global supply chain. The success of companies such as Procter & Gamble (P&G), Seven-Eleven Japan (SEJ), Dell Computers (Dell), Zara, and Wal-Mart is testimony that a well-orchestrated supply chain is crucial to the competitiveness of an enterprise.
Dell is one of the largest PC manufacturers in the world, and one of the main reasons for Dell’s success is the way it manages its supply chain. Dell’s supply chain model is based on direct sales to customers. This model enables Dell to exert much more control over its supply chain than many other companies, and in addition, get direct information about its customers. Based on this information, Dell can make educated decisions that will affect the entire supply chain. Dell also provides its suppliers real-time information to ensure that they keep the right levels of inventory of the right components. Dell’s close contact with customers as well as its understanding of customers’ needs allows it to develop better forecasts and thus keep lower inventories. This gives Dell several advantages over the competition, including lower cost of capital invested in inventories, the ability to go faster to market with new components (such as Intel chips), and ensuring that defects are not introduced into a large quantity of products.
Zara, the fastest-growing fashion company in the world—located in La Coruna, Spain—has achieved more than 20% annual growth in the years 2001 to 2006.1 The key to Zara’s success is its supply chain management approach. Zara designed a fast-response supply chain for its products that incorporates all the different stages in its supply chain, from design and manufacturing to distribution and retailing. Due to high demand uncertainty in the fashion industry and the high cost of mistakes, Zara’s supply chain approach enables it to make its design and production decisions within a fashion season instead of well in advance of a season, resulting in better response to demand.
SEJ posted record profits during the Asian economic crisis, and it did this by being one of the most innovative companies in the world in the management of its supply chain. SEJ focused on the demand side of the business and the smart use of information to achieve efficient use of scarce shelf space. This was strategically important because of the high cost of real estate in Japan. The company introduced systems to analyze hourly sales trends each day and make the results available to all stores and suppliers by early the following day. This supported efficient product replenishment: giving stores a high level of stock availability by determining the right quantity of the right products.
By recognizing data as the key to success, and developing elaborate information systems in tandem with agile logistics, SEJ achieved significantly higher sales per store than its competitors. Its systems delivered dividends: low operational costs, low inventories, short cycle times, and high customer service, which resulted in increased sales, better market penetration, higher profits, and superior shareholder returns.
SEJ demonstrates the importance of sharing information, but in this case, information sharing is not that difficult to achieve because the information remains within the boundaries of one organization. More difficult problems arise when it is necessary to share information among different organizations.
Some companies have taken information sharing to sophisticated levels of information coordination and knowledge exchange among supply chain partners. Such knowledge sharing can include capacity plans, production schedules, promotion plans, demand forecasts, and shipment schedules. But seeking a deeper level of information or knowledge exchange demands a greater degree of trust. So the business conditions and supply chain partners will need to support that approach.
A good example of how this can work is the introduction of a program called Collaborative Planning, Forecasting, and Replenishment (CPFR) by US pharmaceutical and health-care products manufacturer Warner-Lambert (now Pfizer) in the mid-1990s. The program’s goal was to streamline product flow by sharing its strategic plans, performance data, and market insights with key retailer Wal-Mart. The program also recognized that the manufacturer could benefit from the retailer’s market knowledge, which was incorporated into the CPFR model. As a result of this demand forecast collaboration, Warner-Lambert increased its products’ shelf-fill rate from 87% to 98%, earning the company about $8 million a year in additional sales.2
These examples of large companies such as SEJ, Dell, Zara, and Wal-Mart illustrate two of the key issues for supply chain success: first, coordination and collaboration, and second, the value of information sharing. Coordination and collaboration mean that the whole supply chain operates as one entity. Instead of each party trying to operate in its own interest, the parties will work together in the interests of the whole supply chain. The crucial requirements are the ability to share information among supply chain partners and the alignment of the parties’ incentives.
Next, we provide some definitions for supply chain management. We discuss the issue of supply and demand uncertainty and how to align the supply chain strategy with the product demand and supply characteristics.