SupplyChainBrain attended our annual Kinexions user conference, and while there, they completed a number of video interviews with customers, analysts, and Kinaxis executives. And, we’d like to share them!
In this interview, hear Jennifer Bell, systems analyst with First Solar, talk about the challenges her company faces in gaining full visibility of supply and demand, and in dealing with increasing supply-chain volatility. Recently the company implemented capability for integrated project management, to bring itself closer to customers and their purchasing patterns. First Solar is now able to drive both planning and construction of its arrays deep into the supply chain. RapidResponse is helping to forecast better, and respond more quickly to plan variances. How First Solar Keeps Pace With Demand - Interview summary
Among its pain points is the need to balance supply and demand. Recently the company implemented capability for integrated project management, to bring itself closer to customers and their purchasing patterns. First Solar is now able to drive both planning and construction of its arrays deep into the supply chain. RapidResponse is helping it to forecast better, and respond more quickly to plan variances, Bell says. The effort to improve planning was triggered by a sharp downturn in the solar materials industry. Toward the middle of 2012, First Solar began experiencing increasing cost pressures, with prices being driven down by competitors. At the time, it was selling modules exclusively to distributors, mostly in Europe. But the pressure on margins drove it to expand into the engineering and construction sector. And that move, says Bell, led us to see that planning was an integral part of our business. It needed a better means of forecasting demand, so that it could create value for our customers. First Solar faces a significant amount of market volatility, both as a supplier and technology implementer. Construction projects can be affected by a wide variety of factors that are beyond the company's control, such as weather, soil variability and unforeseen environmental impacts. It means we have to be able to respond very quickly, says Bell. We need to be able to plan that in the project. Critical decisions must be made in far less time than before, as the company hits the various revenue milestones that are built into its projects. If we don't meet plan, Bell says, we have huge ramifications for our customers. Previously, we featured interviews with:
- Amanpreet Singh, senior director of strategy and operations, Motorola Mobility: "Relieving the Pain Points of Supply Chain Management"
- Jake Barr, chief executive officer of Blue World Supply Chain Consulting; Jim White, vice president of central operations with Applied Materials and CJ Wehlage, vice president of high tech solutions: "Is the forecast really dead?"
- Jim White, Vice President Central Operations at Applied Materials: "Applied Materials: Invisible, But Everywhere – Kinaxis & SupplyChainBrain Interview Series"
- Ethan Hunt, supply chain consultant at Agilent: "How Agilent Technologies Measures Up: Gaining full visibility of supply and demand"
- Mark Zeni, director of fulfillment at First Solar: "Balancing Cost and Customer Service"
- Arpad Hevizi, vice president of supply chain solutions with Celestica: "How Contract Manufacturers Are Expanding Their Service"
- Trevor Miles, vice president of thought leadership, Kinaxis: "How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?"