Searching for enhanced supply chain efficiency?

According to FPX’s managing director, Stephen Hardy, a single source of data coupled with integrated design, build and supplier processes epitomises the SC21 programme – and a Configure Price Quote solution will allow manufacturers to respond to business changes and maximise new opportunities.

The SC21 programme supports UK companies in the aerospace sector so they can make the most of global growth opportunities. It is encouraging organisations to adopt change in the performance of their supply chains, and recognises that to do this means facing a number of challenges.

In the UK, the aerospace sector is performing well. The most recent ADS Outlook Report indicates that aerospace output has grown by 39% since 2011, and has an annual turnover of almost £32 billion. However, whilst acknowledging that production rates are rising and exports increasing, the report urges the industry not to be complacent, citing overseas competition, the UK’s exit from the EU and increased customer demands amongst the reasons why the entire supply chain needs to make rapid improvements.

Aerospace and defence manufacturers who become part of the SC21 programme are looking to reduce overheads and improve operations without incurring unnecessary costs. This seems like a tall hurdle to jump, but there are some obvious areas that could be targeted. Take legacy technology, for example. Many aerospace companies are using Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and other company-wide solutions, but unless they are connected to one another, they are unlikely to work efficiently.

Another pain point is the difficulty of scaling and managing the massive amounts of data that they are generating. Most aerospace manufacturers are using multi-tiered supply chains and producing complex products with different models, options and configurations, so when it comes to customising engineer-to-order products for a single customer’s needs they can struggle to meet the demand.

The other issue in the supply chain is that its complexity can result in limited visibility. This makes it hard to see the extended value network, particularly in relation to capacity planning, material availability and support for schedule shifts.

Refinement of alignment

These areas can all be managed more effectively. Configure Price Quote (CPQ) solutions are designed to allow the sharing of data in real-time and to connect the end-to-end supply chain so that the data is in a single source. This removes complexity and means that the entire organisation benefits from improved visibility, and gains insight into pricing, inventory, capacity and product development.

For those manufacturers who provide a high degree of custom configuration, CPQ can help streamline the process across the supply chain so that delivery and revenue attainment are fully aligned.

With this level of visibility and control, aerospace manufacturers can also take advantage of another opportunity, which is to support and enhance the sales function. Buyer behaviour is evolving at a rapid pace, with today’s customers looking for seamless, technology-driven experiences. CPQ can help sales teams to develop solutions with rules-based guided selling to eliminate the risk of errors during the order and manufacturing process; pricing is more straightforward because it is based on the data held across the organisation, and quotes are visible to all teams.

Buyers now want to be able to research and purchase even the most complex products online, replicating the experiences they are used to as consumers. This puts pressure on manufacturers to deliver an omnichannel sales environment, where purchases can be made through direct, indirect and online channels with data sourced, rationalised and distributed from a single source of truth.

This can be difficult to manage, but it’s the direction in which even large-scale manufacturing is heading. It can also deliver considerable cost-savings. There are many Lean manufacturing operations already reducing the size of their sales teams because they are benefiting from direct online sales.

The holy grail for the aerospace industry is to have a single source of data coupled with integrated design, build and supplier processes. The efficiencies that these two tools will produce will help to raise the performance of supply chains across the industry, which is what the SC21 programme is driving towards. A CPQ type of solution ticks these boxes, allowing aerospace manufacturers to respond to changes in the business and maximise new opportunities.

Mike Richardson :