By Mark Symonds, President and CEO, Plex Systems

In one of the most difficult economic environments in decades, manufacturers around the world are pressured to meet customer mandates for excellent product quality.

But consider that product quality depends on effective supply chain management. How can a manufacturer free up resources to effectively manage their supply chain? Leading manufacturers more fully engage their suppliers in achieving continuous improvements and operational efficiencies with Plex Online integrated ERP system delivered as a Software as a Service (SaaS) solution. Many such solutions also apply to operations in the E&P world. Though the example here pertains to manufacturing, the way these capabilities can be applied elsewhere is evident. Engineering change requests As an example, anyone in a manufacturer’s supply chain has access to the Engineering Change Request system so they can submit change requests to help improve quality and reduce costs, and share the resulting savings, by changing specifications and processes. This lets manufacturers eliminate costly adjustments later in the product development cycle while informally extending its suggestion program, contributing to increased efficiencies and innovation. Supplier scorecards Plus, enhanced supplier scorecards offer improved drill-down capabilities; the ability to calculate scores for “parent” and “child” suppliers and for individual business units; and the ability to define multiple formulas per metric and target ranges for each metric group. These features make it easier for manufacturers to gather critical operational data from across the entire supplier network, contributing to a more streamlined, efficient supply chain management process. Integration Is key With increased pressures to save costs and perform at the highest levels, no manufacturer can operate as an island today. Full integration is a critical aspect of success.