“In a global pandemic with unprecedented supply chain issues, we were very pleased”
Eminess manufactures, customizes, and distributes products for slicing, grinding, lapping, and polishing critical surfaces, primarily in the electronics and optics industries. Customer needs are highly precise, while supplier reliability is variable. Lead times on raw materials for Eminess’ line of around 4,500 finished items range from three to 150 days. Some items can only ship six months out of the year due to temperature sensitivities.
Historically, Eminess executives relied on a homegrown material planning process with manuallyset reorder points. Results were good, but the company’s move to NetSuite in late 2018 presented an opportunity to modernize and improve. NetSuite’s native planning software was insufficient for the company’s needs, so Supply Chain Manager Mark Evans began searching for alternatives.
Though he had no direct experience with DDMRP, Evans was intrigued by the similarities between the methodology and Eminess’ homegrown systems. Intuiflow, the leading DDMRP planning solution, impressed Evans and other stakeholders for its simplicity and ease of use. Soon, the convenience of a native-to-NetSuite solution—and the extensive support offered by the Demand Driven team—won them over
I was very impressed with the amount of support we received,” commented Evans. “Demand Driven Technologies sent a team of three specialists here for four days to lead in-depth training. New features were addressed for development before I could even ask the questions.
NetSuite and Intuiflow launched in tandem on January 2019. “We didn’t really miss a beat. There was no interruption to the business whatsoever,” said Evans. Purchasing and planning activities picked up without interruption or incident, and within a few months, the company began to see results.
Intuiflow helped Eminess reduce its inventory by 6% in the first year without adding overhead—and while service levels. The technology also enabled the company to centralize planning and purchasing in its Monroe, North Carolina manufacturing facility, while redeploying five of the seven employees in the global function to different roles. This, in turn, helped them build better relationships with suppliers by consolidating orders and streamlining shipping costs. “Nobody likes getting four different orders from four different people,” explained Evans. “We only appreciated these benefits once we got into the software and realized how much it had changed the way we worked.
When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Eminess executives—like others around the world— began to assess the magnitude of the threat to their supply chain. Long lead times, single-source suppliers, and precarious international trade relationships all made the situation concerning. Yet it was critical that they maintain service to customers in the communications and medical industries.
“Many of our raw materials have a short shelf life, and they’re highly specialized,” explained Evans. “Simply stocking up on inventory or sourcing from alternative suppliers weren’t realistic options.”
Instead, Eminess leveraged a Intuiflow feature called the Demand Order Window, which enables planners to extend production into the future by adding additional time to the demand-driven reorder points that are already 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.
Thanks to Intuiflow, Eminess was able to sustain on-time and in-full rates of more than 95% throughout pandemic. Heading into 2021, Evans noted, inventory levels were down 12% from two years prior, when they went live.