Taking a Cue from Aerospace & Defense

By Doug Russell, Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions,

We all like to think our industries present unique challenges to overcome. While that may be the case, it’s also true that in the world of high-tech manufacturing, we have far more in common than it seems. Whether you’re producing a drug, pacemaker, or an airplane, you’re probably facing many of these requirements:

  • Outsourcing/offshoring significant portions of the manufacturing process to reduce cost;
  • Accounting for regulatory mandates to promote security and quality standards across the supply chain;
  • Obtaining visibility across a broad and deep supply chain to track and manage inventory;
  • Integrating with suppliers with vastly different operating environments to enhance communication;
  • Gaining overall logistics control, from in-transit visibility to load consolidation and 3PL integration, to speed deliveries;
  • Conducting demand and supply planning that incorporates manufacturing floor-based pull systems to coordinate current and future needs; and
  • • Dashboarding large-scale transaction volume by commodity, buyer, or other aggregation criteria to deliver the intelligence necessary for all constituencies to assess performance.

The aerospace and defense (A&D) industry is no stranger to these circumstances. In fact, firms throughout A&D are addressing them head-on, including Exostar’s founding partners: BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and Rolls-Royce. The Life Sciences industry can benefit from the lessons we’ve learned in A&D as you look to tackle many of these same problems.

Here are my top five suggestions:

  1. Don’t fight outsourcing, embrace it. Yes, there are times when you’ll want and need full control of the manufacturing process, but not always. For example, combining outsourced IT services along with mainstream manufacturing can drive down cost and increase competitiveness.
  2. Look to the cloud. The scalability and flexibility of cloud-based solutions complements and accommodates dynamic outsourced demands.
  3. Automate wherever possible. E-enabling the supply chain procurement lifecycle creates efficiencies and opportunities for collaboration beyond limitations of manually-intensive execution. It also promotes standardization across organizations with disparate on-premise systems and processes, while mitigating the risk of human error.
  4. Expand B2B integration. Automation paves the way for integration. An “any-to-any” integration model empowers buyers and suppliers by facilitating procurement document exchanges and optimizing operating efficiencies without requiring substantial capital or workforce investment.
  5. Leverage identity federation. There’s no doubt that outsourcing, the cloud, automation, and integration can be scary propositions when you’re trying to protect intellectual property and other sensitive information. Eliminate the fear factor by implementing a strong identity management solution that controls access to systems, documents, and data regardless of the number of partners in your community.

Many of the largest players in A&D have realized that the legacy approach of going it alone and relying on manual intervention and on-premise systems simply won’t work in a 21st century economy. They are reaping the benefits from making the transition to a new way of thinking. For example, one firm increased on-time delivery of goods from its suppliers by more than 10 percent, while another slashed its purchase-to-pay cycle times and freed resources to focus on its highest priority tasks.

These companies are succeeding in providing mission critical products while complying with tight regulatory environments, similar to those you experience in the Life Sciences industry. Now, it’s time for you to take a cue from A&D and get started yourselves.

Doug Russell brings 30 years of experience, primarily in the Military and Defense industry, to his role as Vice President of Supply Chain Solutions at Exostar. He is responsible for all aspects of the organization, from product/service roadmap to solution implementation, deployment, and support. Prior to joining Exostar in 2006, he spent over 20 years in manufacturing, supporting major missile, space, and ground-based vehicle programs. As an executive-level operations professional, his background includes management, administration, contracts, finance, and general operations of Military and Aerospace manufacturing organizations.

Exostar supports the complex trading needs of many of the world’s largest companies in aerospace and defense, life sciences, and other industries. The company’s cloud-based service offerings power secure B2B information sharing, collaboration, and business process integration throughout the value chain – reducing risk, improving agility, and strengthening trading partner relationships and profitability for over 70,000 companies worldwide. Customers include BAE Systems, Bell Helicopter, The Boeing Company, Computer Sciences Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corp., Newport News Shipbuilding, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon Co. and Rolls-Royce.

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