Formlabs Leverages Vecco to Manage Global Demand, Supply, and Inventory Operations

Leading 3D printer manufacturing company deploys next generation supply chain management system to orchestrate supply and demand across their rapidly expanding global supply chain. MALVERN, PA.   Vecco International, provider of an advanced end-to-end cloud-based supply chain management solution, enables Formlabs, the industry leader in 3D printing technology, to manage the company’s global supply chain in support of their rapid international growth. “We are honored that Formlabs has selected Vecco as the foundation of their Digitization Initiative supporting its rapidly expanding complex global supply chain” said Jonathan Kall, Vecco’s CEO. Formlabs pioneered the new category of professional desktop 3D printing in 2012 when it launched the world’s first affordable, powerful desktop stereolithography 3D printer. Today the company is bringing powerful and accessible fabrication tools into the creative hands of professionals around the world. Formlabs will deploy Vecco’s Value Chain Resource & Response Planning (VCRPTM) platform across its multi-tier supply chain enabling them to better plan and manage worldwide inventory and gain complete visibility and control over the company’s product supply and demand. According to Henk Van Wuijckhuijse, Global Head of Planning & Logistics, “Formlabs selected the Vecco platform because of its comprehensive yet incrementally deployable supply chain capabilities which will enable us to extend our NetSuite ERP and better plan and execute on constant changes in demand, supply and inventory. With Vecco on board, we now have the ability to scale the business by overseeing and proactively managing what is quickly becoming a very complex worldwide supply chain.” Vecco’s patented, cloud-based multi-tier VCRP solution can extend and complement all major ERP and S&OPs to provide visibility and control across... read more

Is Lack of Real-Time Global Data Threatening Your Ability to Service Your Customers?

So you’ve just learned that there’s good news… and there’s bad news. First, the good news: your sales for a specialty item manufactured in-house are through the roof. In fact, they’re way over forecast. Now, the bad news. You’re short on production orders. And raw materials. And coordinating your global supply chain in a timely manner to meet your customers’ needs feels like an even taller order. This scenario is just one of many that’s all too familiar for manufacturers. So what is the real problem here? And how can you handle the constant change in your supply chains more effectively? In this blog, we’ll discuss how the lack of real-time, end-to-end data can disrupt business operations and what can be done to prevent  the “bad news” scenarios. Too Many Systems, One Major Disconnect First, consider the sheer number of systems that today’s global manufacturers rely upon to run their businesses. Often a result of internal growth or acquisitions, such systems might include everything from multiple ERPs, to CRMs, to S&OPs, to spreadsheets, and so on. The problem, however, is not simply a result of running multiple systems—it’s due to those systems not being interconnected. To make matters worse, those systems are typically not able to “talk” with external systems in their supply chain. This limited visibility, both internally and among partners’ systems, prohibits decision makers from being able to correct problems before they become serious—or conversely, respond to opportunities in the consumer and business-to-business marketplace.  The Missing Pieces Again, what’s missing from the scenario above is real-time, end-to-end visibility of actionable information that allows manufacturers to proactively respond... read more

Supply Chain 4.0 enabling the Digital Enterprise and Industry 4.0

The real value of the “Digital Enterprise” movement & Industry 4.0 can only be realized unless it is encompassed and orchestrated by parallel automation/Digitization of the ‘Supply Chain’ delivery mechanism. “Global supply chain flows must become increasingly digital and integrated, and end-to-end data will be driven in real-time, exponentially increasing upstream information flows and driving integration across the extended value chain”… thus the recent emergence of the “Supply Chain Management 4.0” movement. Read more in this recent research by... read more

The World is Flattening – Let’s Get Moving!

Global flattening and the exponential advances in technology are revolutionizing the way we live and do business! This is an era where mind boggling advances in a new digital infrastructure, changes in public policy and the effects of globalization are enabling unknown companies to emerge overnight and dominate industries using information and time as competitive weapons. Thomas Friedman wrote about this in his best-selling book “The World is Flat”, as well as countless others in leading publications such as the Harvard Business Review and the Economist. It’s an undeniable fact that the new economy works across borders, languages, currencies and cultures. It’s also an inescapable fact that the dynamics of legacy supply chain processes and incumbent business relationships make it difficult to adapt to these international realities and new competitive landscape. How do you respond to globalization? For too long we have focused on traditional performance improvement areas “within the four walls” and with continually diminishing returns. We need order of magnitude, game-changing improvements, not percentage point improvements. A company’s success in the new economy is increasingly less dependent on individual performance and more dependent on the overall success of the supply chains they participate in. The supply chain that can satisfy the needs of the customer better – wins. Companies need to look outside their four walls, embrace change, embrace new technologies and eliminate the barriers throughout their extended value chain that impede the flow of information and decisions. Time is a company’s most valuable asset and those with the greatest return on time can respond quicker, out-think and out-maneuver the competition. Speed is a devastating competitive advantage... read more

The Refrain is the Same: Can You See Me Now?

Every year there are several surveys asking supply chain executives to rank the challenges they face. And, for as long as I can remember, supply chain visibility ranks at or near the top. This year’s reincarnation of the control tower metaphor is being applied to supply chain visibility. Can you see me now? If it’s so critical, why haven’t we implemented it? —Rich Sherman, Supply Chain Discipline Expert at Trissential The supply chain landscape is composed of many different applications and systems often within an enterprise, let alone the inclusion of the customers and suppliers required to achieve end-to-end supply chain visibility. It’s a complex functional and technical network. There are many vendors addressing the issue; after all, in many ways it represents the Holy Grail. However, the problem is that for supply chain visibility to work, many systems from many vendors are going to have to interoperate. And, which company in the supply network is going to be the “mother ship”? Your customer and supplier base are composed of competitors to one another and you’re not their only trading partner. Like them, you have competitors that are their customers and suppliers. Aha! Perhaps this is the reason that for as long as we can remember, supply visibility is the most desired yet underserved solution in supply chain. That is not to take away from the number of vendors that are providing visibility to a limited subset of the supply chain. There are some solutions in transportation, electronic transaction exchange, procurement, intra-industry collaboration, and other functional capabilities that provide control-tower-like applications. Just no one seems to be addressing a company’s entire supply chain. Well, no one except Hewlett-Packard. In contract with Vecco International, H-P defined and developed a technology agnostic collaboration platform, primarily to incorporate their supplier base... read more

Responsibility Lies with Leaders

First published in the Lean Management Journal (LMJ) and republished here with permission. When it comes to sustainably and profitably growing an organisation in the face of changing market conditions, Roddy Martin identifies various ‘disconnects’ within these initiatives. To understand and manage these disconnects, a four-layer management system must be well understood by executive leadership teams: Systems of Control, Systems of Record, Systems of Process and Systems of Venture and Sufficiency. Another disconnect is IT’s role within these four layers in order to collaborate, not hinder the process. Roddy explains how executive leadership teams can overcome these hurdles. Roddy Martin proposes a four-layer management system model and explains why alignment between these four layers is so critical. As continuous improvement and supply chain performance improvement practitioners, we know that aligning business operating strategy and business performance improvements, and building end-to-end supply chain capabilities to achieve competitive advantage, are merging to achieve one goal: To grow sustainably and profitably while weathering the dynamics of market change. In reality, however, ‘disconnects’ and ‘project-based approaches’ in these initiatives highlight cross-functional gaps that stand in the way of collaboratively building an end-to-end business with demand-driven process capabilities. “Disconnects” are characterised in the following leadership questions: What is the challenge involved in translating and aligning the business operating strategy into end-to-end business processes and supply chain design, and in achieving sustainable performance improvement capabilities by aligning with continuous improvement? What factors are in the way of aligning and synchronising IT with business and supply chain transformation? How is leading and managing the transformational change embedded into every maturity stage of the transformation journey? Is... read more

Collaborative Supplier Relationships – Best Practices

Collaboration with business partners can yield significant benefits including increased supply assurance, reduction in latency and lower inventory levels, faster product innovation cycles, increased flexibility to respond to change and increased revenue. While the results can be dramatic, not all attempts to foster collaborative relationships have been successful. The following is a brief checklist of practices that will help improve the success rate and maximize the value of investments in this area for all participants. Focus on people, process and technology – all three are required for success. Segment your suppliers based on measures important to your business and develop targeted strategy & approaches for each, e.g. one size does not fit all. Segment materials based on key attributes such as cost, MTS/MTO/ETO, volume, constrained vs. unconstrained, demand volatility, etc. and develop deployment strategies to accelerate/maximize value. Both parties must derive benefits from the relationship – establish scheme for sharing captured value. All key stakeholders should be involved in the design of the solution – incorporate supplier needs into the solution. Executive support and active participation is critical. Establish metrics & benchmarks for project – track regularly and make results highly visible. Involve actual users in creation of user documentation & on-line help. Relationships change over time as trust develops – start slow and evolve solutions to capture incremental value as relationships mature. Requirements will constantly change – find a solution that is flexible to accommodate change as fast as the business requires. Establish a continuous improvement program – reward significant/break-though contributions. Consider establishing a user group that meets at least annually – this will help keep a focus on... read more

Supplier Collaboration Requirements

Business Is Changing – FAST In today’s fast-moving and highly interdependent global marketplace, companies are increasingly reliant on complex networks of trading partners, suppliers and outsource service providers to succeed. How effective they are at getting their partners to work together as a seamless, high-performing value chain will ultimately determine customer satisfaction, business performance and value. Tomorrow’s leaders will transform their extended supply chain into a highly responsive business network of synchronized partners focused on a common objective of satisfying customers better than anyone else. They will be able to sense change faster, adapt faster, innovate faster and deliver what the market is demanding before their competition has time to react. To accomplish such transformation however, requires new software technology platforms and applications specifically designed to address multi-enterprise business collaboration. Yesterday’s Software Will Not Solve Today’s Problems Software designed to manage operations within an enterprise cannot be extended to solve the collaborative problems across a network of business partners. The truly integrated business network requires a completely different architecture and set of technologies to support real-time event driven visibility, collaboration and business process execution necessary to react quickly and solve multi-partner supply and fulfillment challenges. Today’s Collaboration Software Must support a new competitive paradigm. The future success of a company will be dictated less by individual effort and more by its ability to be a valued participant in a number of successful supply chains. Will have to support a virtual supply chain, with complex multi-partner business processes, that is continually evolving with market demands. Requires new technology with flexible architectures and federated data models to enable multi-tier collaborative business... read more

21st Century Health Care Value Chain Improvement Opportunities

Health Value Chain participants (Medical materials and device manufacturers, traditional and biologic drug producers, their distributors and the healthcare systems that use them), struggle with opaque and inefficient value chains. These can stretch across 5 or more tiers of sub-supplier to OEM thru distributors to the final point of use by a care provider. At the same time, governments (the ultimate payer in most countries) and insurance providers (primarily in the USA) create constant, irresistible downward price pressure on established products. Point of use/sale information is usually blocked (sometimes deliberately) or otherwise inaccessible. In bound supply information is commonly blocked beyond the immediate supplier or distributor’s inventory data because of heterogeneous IT systems. Even within an manufacturer or health care provider, a multiplicity of IT systems and instances inherited through acquisitions result in a ”tower of Babel” syndrome. Conflicting regulatory requirements in every jurisdiction are the norm. Manufacturing firms with US FDA “validated” legacy manufacturing and quality processes are particularly challenged. Changes to improve these inefficient legacy systems can cost tens of millions of dollars each. Finally, these value chains usually require lot, batch and or serial numbers on each unit produced or consumed, and in the US, this requirement will become a universal legal requirement shortly. This situation resembles that of traditional non-health related value chains of the 1980’s, and 90’s, except that enterprise wide IT solutions in health care now can cost over $200mm each, even for merely midsize Healthcare systems or pharma manufacturers. Small and start up medical firms face huge compliance, efficiency and cost hurdles if they try to develop their own customized value chain... read more

Ferrari Group Backs Vecco

We’re happy to share a recent post on Supply Chain Matters, written by Bob Ferrari, Ferrari Consulting and Research Group: “When I was an industry analyst at AMR Research covering the supply chain planning area, I had the opportunity to evaluate and participate in the market introduction of many innovative technology companies. Some were borne out of R&D initiatives at major technology companies where the core innovators and software Ph.D.’s then left to launch a next generation technology. One of these companies, Sockeye Solutions, had understood that the impact of globalization coupled with exponential advances in technology would mean that a company’s competitive advantage would lie in their ability to unify their entire value chain. They developed a unique technology platform that enables multi-tier collaborative business process orchestration.”   Read... read more

Benefits of Vecco Control Tower in Life Sciences – Part 5

Supply Chain Event Management Scenario Name: Supply Chain Event Management Industry Segment: Drug, testing supply and medical device manufacturing companies with a strong need for: Dynamic detection, analysis and resolution of a broad range of business problems along their end-to-end, global supply chain. Awareness of the occurrence of critical supply chain events The capability of issuing problem tickets to trigger and execute collaborative workflows to resolve the supply chain issues Key performance indicators (KPI) and statistics built upon historical supply chain problems and events for continuing improvements of supply chain quality and efficiency Projected Key performance indicator predictions based upon business forecast and plan changes Rapid onboarding of acquired companies with differing installed ERP and supply chain software Company Size: Any Example Company in this segment: Phillips, Agilent, Bausch & Lomb, Boston Scientific, P&G, Bosch, Honeywell Telemedicine Division, etc. Department(s): Supply Chain Operations (or Purchasing) User: All supply chain planners and operators, company supply chain VP or director Economic Buyer: VP Supply Chain, VP Operations, VP Purchasing, VP (director) Services (or Technical Support) Technical Buyer: CIO, Senior Management IT A Day in the Life (Before) Scene or Situation: One of the most important aspects of a company’s supply chain business is real-time visibility into the problems and the occurrence of key supply chain events. Some companies may also want to the mechanism to use the event to automatically trigger workflows to execute a collaborative problem solving process. It is through seeing and resolving problems and reacting to key events responsively, that the company can operate a quality supply chain business with a low cost. As well, the higher management needs... read more

Benefits of Vecco Control Tower in Life Sciences – Part 4

Product Fulfillment Improvement in a Multi-tier Distribution Environment Scenario Name: Collaborative fulfillment improvement Industry Segment: Companies manufacturing make-to-stock products that are distributed though a multi-tier network. Capital intensive industries (with constrained manufacturing capacity) with volatile demand (multiple branding, multiple product sizes/s, seasonal, promoted, products etc.), e.g. Consumer medical devices, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, Consumer take home medical tests. Company Size: Any Example Company in this segment: Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, GNC, Bayer, Omron Medical Devices Department(s): Supply Chain Operations User: Operations Planner, VP – Fulfillment Economic Buyer: VP Supply Chain, VP Operations Technical Buyer: CIO, Senior Management IT A Day in the Life (Before) Scene or Situation: Finished goods are distributed through a network of distribution centers and warehouses. For example, a plant produces product which is then shipped to regional distribution centers and from there to certain local distribution centers owned by third parties. The plant supports local demand as well as downstream demand from the regional distribution centers. The regional distribution centers support local demand as well as demand from the independently owned local distribution centers. The local distribution centers supports purely local demand in certain defined territories. Inventory may have effectivity dates, as for promotionally branded or priced items, or for seasonal products. It may also have expiry dates, requiring disposal or return of expired product. It may have lot numbers and require traceability of ingredients, production facilities and handlers, or even require verification of environmental conditions through the production and distribution processes. The challenge for the operations planner is to place inventory in the network appropriately to deliver a high level of customer service, while at the same... read more

Benefits of Vecco Control Tower in Life Sciences – Part 3

New Customer Capture enabled by End to End Value Chain Collaboration Scenario Name: End to End Supply Chain Collaboration Department(s): Supply Chain, Procurement, Planning, IT, Account Managers User: Buyers, Supply Managers, Operations and Fulfillment Planners, Sales Managers, Marketing Managers Economic Buyer: VP of Fulfillment Technical Buyer: IT Manager for Operations Systems & Applications Industry Segment: Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, Medical Devices Company Size: $Any Example Company in this segment: Merck, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Phibro Animal Health, Medtronic A Day in the Life (Before) Scene or Situation #1: Today is Wednesday and the Yucatan Sales Manager was asked by a major Cancun Pharmacy he has been trying to convert into a house account, if he can deliver an extra 1000 cases of over the counter medicine in special sized containers (20% of his current quota) within 1 week for a special promotional opportunity. The target competitor has failed to deliver on their commitment, and the company can also obtain premier brand advertising in the Pharmacy’s advertising flyers for no extra cost if they can complete the delivery in time. Typical order lead time for that size special order is 1 month. If he can’t deliver, the business will go to another rival. He must provide an answer by tomorrow. Desired Outcome: Commit to the delivery, with confidence and supporting material, book the order and actually deliver on time. Convert a rival’s House account to the Company’s own brand of that medicine. Get great promotional positioning a major event with coverage in a target market. Attempted Approach: Southern Region sales manager sends an email and phones his sales support person in Mexico City.   He... read more

Benefits of Vecco Control Tower in Life Sciences – Part 2

International Licensee Royalty and Service Performance Compliance Scenario: A brand owner licenses production of certain of its major over the counter medicine brands to foreign manufacturers. It is to be paid royalties on the volume of medicine. However, the brand owner has some history of poor royalty reporting in past relationships with similar firms in this market segment, and poor customer service to major hospital chains and National Health Agencies with whom the brand owner has global distribution agreements. Industry Segment: Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, Medical Devices Company Size: $Any Example Company in this segment: Merck, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Phibro Animal Health, Medtronic Department(s): Supply Chain, Procurement, Planning, IT, Account Managers User: Buyers, Supply Managers, Operations and Fulfillment Planners, Sales Managers, Marketing Managers Economic Buyer: VP of Licensing Technical Buyer: IT Manager for Operations Systems & Applications A Day in the Life (Before) Scene or Situation #1: Today the brand owner receives royalties based on the Licensee’s declared volume. It is not possible for the brand owner to independently validate the volumes reported. As part of the contract the brand owner is given access to purchasing records and production records which must be reconciled. The licensee has ERP and related systems, but limited IT capabilities limited analytical reporting capabilities. Periodic licensing audits are costly for the brand owner and somewhat disruptive and annoying to the licensee. Desired Outcome: Build a positive relationship with the licensee, while still ensuring an easy to maintain and reliable audit trail for compliance with both license royalties and global retailer service level commitments. Attempted Approach: Today the brand owner receives email reports of royalties due based on... read more

Benefits of Vecco Control Tower in Life Sciences – Part 1

Product Traceability and Analysis In Case of Potential Defects Across Multiple Supply and Distribution Tiers Be capable of tracing materials and process events contained in drugs and or medical devices from root supplier through production and multiple tiers of distribution to final point of sale, and to be able to immediately recall only specific potentially defective lots. Scenario: A defect in packaging material manufacture is identified by a sub-supplier. The defect is such that, if packaged on the specified packing line in a certain manner that is within packaging quality protocols, the package is nonetheless likely to break around specific aperture and oxygen will leak into the package and cause loss of efficacy in the packaged medicine. This potentially presents a risk to the person consuming the medicine. The products are not serialized individually, but are marked with lot numbers. Once aware of the risk, the Brand owner decides that the product should be recalled and destroyed. Industry Segment: Pharmaceuticals, Life Sciences, Medical Devices Company Size: $Any Example Company in this segment: Merck, Novartis, Johnson & Johnson, Phibro Animal Health, Medtronic Department(s): Quality compliance, Supply Chain, Procurement, Planning, IT, Account Managers User: Brand Owner/product GM, Quality managers, FDA compliance managers, Supply Managers, Operations and Fulfillment Planners, Sales Managers, Marketing Managers Economic Buyers: VP of Fulfillment or VP of Operations Technical Buyer: IT Manager for Operations Systems & Applications and FDA Compliance Manager A Day in the Life (Before) Scene: A contract container supplier, Package Ltd, identifies a risk in the course of its product QC testing. An ingredient supplier is determined to have delivered a bad lot of a key... read more

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