Supply chain transparency propels West Midlands manufacturer

Posted on 19 Sep 2018 by Maddy White

Maintaining strong relationships within the supply chain is essential for manufacturers; it can make, transform or break entire businesses.

Alongside this much shorter lead time, the complexity of control cabinets has also increased "massively". supply chain
Alongside this much shorter lead time, the complexity of control cabinets has also increased “massively”.

PP Control & Automation (PPC&A) has worked with leading global manufacturer of machine tools, Yamazaki Mazak for 25 years. This length of partnership is not unheard of, but it is certainly rare.

Perhaps even more impressively, the business –  who are one of the world’s largest suppliers of electrical control system solutions across many sectors – has reduced its lead times over a proportion of this period from six weeks to just six days, as part of a more agile business model.

From six weeks to six days

Ian Knight, chief information officer at PPC&A, said to The Manufacturer: “The original solution took six to eight weeks delivery. Since this, the company has managed to reduce the entire operation time, by streamlining the process and implementing a more lean solution.”

He explained that in their now six day lead time, orders and amendments are processed with full transparency in real-time, enabling flexibility to adapt or alter orders based on customer requirements.

Increased complexity

Alongside this much shorter lead time, the complexity of control cabinets has also increased “massively”.

Knight said:  “If we go back nearly two decades ago, we supplied Mazak with 15 different types of electric control cabinets, now there is almost 50 standard type cabinets. We are also doing an almost infinite amount of individual systems – the complexity has changed dramatically.”

A more connected operation

The strength of the relationship has been a key enabler for the company to be able to offer Mazak more complex systems and a faster entire process.

Knight said: “Now we are able to view the production state on the shop floor via an interactive portal, so we can see when customers start committing resources. We can see when plans change and align our systems accordingly.”

Case study: Connected system enables fashion industry flexibility

Jenny Holloway, CEO of Fashion Enter, spoke to The Manufacturer about their connected Galaxius system, which allows complete transparency of operations, and why a flexible strategy is so crucial.

Fashion Enter Director, Jenny Holloway. supply chain
Fashion Enter CEO, Jenny Holloway.

Holloway explained the company’s Galaxius digital system allows the business to see exactly what garment is being made and where, which enables absolute clarity between the business, retailers and consumers.

The connected smart system enables the company to collect data about operations, and carry out Just in Time and lean strategies.

She said: “By being flexible this means that we can literally swap and change the production lines (on sealed garments of course) so we can maximise sales for the retailer.”

The ability to offer the services Fashion Enter are able to, is partially due to their connected and forward thinking data system, but also Holloway’s extensive knowledge of industry and understanding of how to be flexible and nimble as a business, as she says.