About First Solar
First Solar, maker of solar panels, as well as builder and manager of solar power plants, has a complex product that’s part of an intricate supply chain. The Tempe-based business manages over 3500 suppliers and globally has over 33,000 people in their supply chain network.
The Challenge and Benefit
At one time, First Solar was capacity constrained, and as a result, the company did not emphasize demand planning in their operations. As their constraint moved from supply to demand, First Solar found it extremely difficult to slow down or speed up production. The team had implemented tools to support their supply chain, but they were unable to streamline the data to provide intelligent information to manage inventory levels. They could not answer simple questions with their ERP system, such as ‘what do we have to sell?’ and ‘when is it available?’ The team manually worked from spreadsheets to capture sales orders and to forecast demand, as well as to match it with projected supply from their three manufacturing locations. This tedious process could take upwards of a week to get the desired information.
First Solar made the decision to deploy Kinaxis® RapidResponse®, a cloud based supply chain management and sales and operations solution, and moved to a more demand-driven supply chain rather than their historical approach of building to capacity. Within eight weeks of signing the purchase order, First Solar was able to implement RapidResponse and the team immediately began seeing results.
The implementation of RapidResponse as our single demand planning tool has given us the crossfunctional visibility that we never had before and has opened up the opportunity for us to replace our siloed goals with common goals and objectives across planning functions.