The Importance of Supply Chain Management

Supply and Value Chains

In manufacturing, the term “supply chain” describes how products or services move from supplier to customer. This is often a complex process that includes a wide range of organizations, people, technology, activities, information, and resources .

Of particular interest to our project is the NIST Supply Chain Integration Program and NIST's interest in enhancing the ability of Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM's) to quickly find new suppliers whose goods can be integrated into an already-running production system. Our Request for Discovery process supports rapid identification of suppliers based on non-proprietary information linked to manufacturing processes.

The "value chain" describes how each of the contributing entities, and associated components, enhances the value of the product. Supply chains can be “shaped” by adjusting the individual components and enhancing the value chain. One way to improve the value chain in prototyping is to engage suppliers earlier in the design process, decreasing design time and prototyping costs. Another way is to build a larger supplier base at lower cost, allowing manufacturers to shape supply chains for mass customization of products.

It is very clear that supply chains are no longer locally or regionally based, rather they often function at international and global levels. This has created new opportunities, and challenges, to rapidly and cost effectively identify and find suppliers outside of normal supply chains. The Request for Discovery technology provides a way to cost-effectively find and engage these suppliers.

Supply Networks

As we begin to view supply and value "chains" as more integrated "networks" of participating organizations and resources, a number of new concepts and approaches have begun to guide our thinking about manufacturing.

  • Intercompany collaboration on this global scale is driving the need for a whole new set of strategic alliances and partnerships that result in flexible networks of manufacturers and suppliers (Art and Monroy, 2010). A question then is how can we create and evolve these flexible networks?

  • Ivezic (2011) in Manufacturing Services Network Models also indicates that a supply network's agility is driven by the ability to rapidly identify manufacturers with the skills, equipment, and capacities needed to perform the required manufacturing services. He also states that "These processes often represent an impediment to agility because of the time it takes to identify the manufacturers..." A question then is how can we more effectively and efficiently identify the critical manufacturers needed to "shape" a supply network?

  • NIST Supply Chain Integration Program states that "Rigid supply chain structures are giving way to virtual supply networks of collaborative partnerships. These partnerships will develop rapidly in response to market opportunities; and, they will disband just as quickly when those opportunities disappear." A question then is how are these virtual supply networks supported in a secure, yet inexpensive, environment?

We have designed Supplier Discovery and the Request for Discovery technology as a means to address these questions. By focusing first on the unique base of Nevada suppliers, we are building a highly capable supplier cohort for prototyping and launch manufacturing who can easily interface with a wide range of manufacturers locally, nationally, and internationally.

SupplierDiscovery/SupplyValueChains (last edited 2012-08-09 16:06:36 by steve)