The pandemic dealt an unprecedented blow to global supply chains, with virtually all business leaders reporting disruptions to their strategic sourcing and supplier management processes.
Yet some companies found ways to mitigate the impact to their operations. In Demand Driven Technology’s Pandemic Planning series, we take a look at their stories—and how they leveraged DDMRP to adjust to a changing landscape.
When stocking up isn’t an option
The recommendation to “diversify supplier networks” is a classic component of the supply chain risk management playbook. It isn’t bad advice—but it doesn’t work for all businesses, especially those, like Eminess Technologies, in high-precision specialty industries.
Eminess manufactures surface finishing solutions for the tools used by companies in electronics, optics, aerospace, and medicine. Stocking up on inventory or sourcing from alternative suppliers aren’t realistic risk management options.
“Many of our raw materials have a short shelf life, and they’re highly specialized,” explained Mark Evans, Supply Chain Manager at Eminess. Lead times for some items are as long as 150 days. Other items can only ship six months out of the year due to temperature sensitivities.
How, then, did the company maintain service levels of 95% throughout the pandemic?
According to Evans, the trick was to use a Replenishment+ function called the Demand Order Window to plan farther ahead without compromising the demand-driven planning methodologies Eminess had relied on since 2019.
The Demand Order Window enables planners to extend production into the future by adding additional time to the demand-driven reorder points that have already been established. Raw materials can thus be purchased well in advance of when they’ll be needed, yet orders are still triggered by actual demand rather than by hunches or forecasts.
“As we saw demand in our system, we were creating the work orders for it, even if it was four or five months in the future. This allowed us to plan and buy farther ahead, while maintaining the demand driven methodology,” Evans said.
To learn more about how Replenishment+ helped Eminess extend production planning and right-size inventory, read the case study.