Introduction and challenges

The cost pressure associated with the rise of the supply chain function has led to a tacit sharing of responsibilities in many companies: the factory  works to reduce its costs and improve production quality, and the supply chain team works to improve service and reduce inventory.

This sharing has been, and continues to be, beneficial in environments that are not fully mature, where fundamentals have yet to be established and where there are still margins for productivity and product quality. Lean approaches aimed at making processes always efficient while improving product quality therefore remain relevant and must in all cases be part of continuous improvement.

Faced with a growing need for agility, however, this philosophy shows its limits. The new industrial excellence must now translate into a “more customer-oriented” plant, i.e. one that better balances cost and agility and is not content to be an effective link in a global supply chain.

Manufacturing must therefore be responsible, beyond its cost, for the quality of its response to demand as well as for the inventory that its inflexibility or non-reactivity can generate. This represents a significant cultural change and the acquisition, in addition to Lean methods, of advanced industrial supply chain methods.

How we can help 

Argon & Co has led numerous transformation projects with clients designed to improve industrial agility. These include:

  • The reduction of cycles
  • The reduction of industrial inventory (raw materials, work in progress, campaign or anticipation stocks, etc.)
  • The improvement of the “factory” service rate 

These are all steps aimed at making manufacturing more agile. After having carried out a qualitative and quantitative diagnosis of the existing level of agility, we identify and help to set up performance drivers in different areas: 

  • Service offer
  • Evolution of the organisation: roles and responsibilities between the different participants (manufacturing management, factory, supply chain, purchasing), work rhythm, definition of rituals, definition of new KPIs, and managerial incentives
  • Review the flow diagram and flow organisation: online, decoupling points, and multi-site collaboration
  • Capacity reservation and flexibility sizing
  • Implementation of advanced industrial flow management tools (such as Argon & Co’s Supply Control Tower) allowing a complete and integrated visibility of supply, inventory and finished product flows and customer demand
  • Implementation of DDMRP if this method is adapted
  • Reduction of changeover times (SMED actions)
  • Optimisation of batch sizes through innovative methods designed by Argon & Co