Flexibility will differentiate supply chains in future

16 May 2013

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16 May 2013 | Adam Leach

Supply chains of the future will be distinguished by how quickly they can change to meet emerging demands and business needs, according to a director at Lego.

Speaking yesterday at SupplyFest in London, Calum Lewis, operations director at Lego explained the company has made a big effort to make its supply chain more agile. A key part of this involved streamlining manufacturing by reducing the number of different Lego components from 16,000 to 6,000. In addition, it moved manufacturing closer to its various markets, enabling it to respond more quickly to demand.

Addressing the audience, Lewis proposed the flexibility of a supply chain will be the factor used to differentiate the good from the bad. He said: “What will differentiate one supply chain from another is its ability to flex people, processes and systems.”

While nimbleness across the board will prove important, Lewis stressed that the people element is most important. He identified that organisational structures, job roles and individuals’ ability to adapt to the increasing need for operations to respond more quickly to consumer demand as key factors.

In addition to reducing the number of different Lego parts manufactured, the company also maximised flexibility by delaying the final packaging of the parts until absolutely required. This meant common elements could be assigned to products on the basis of proven demand, rather than predicted demand.

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