The Australian manufacturing industry is looking ahead to restock for a new year, and part of this process is considering current and future challenges of warehousing and distribution, particularly when sourcing offshore product.
Mark Watson, group forecasting and planning manager for Motion Australia, weighs in on how to approach planning stock when the only thing certain is that nothing is for certain. He likens the forecasting and planning process to a Mike Tyson quote: “Everyone has a plan until they get smacked in the face.”
Watson furthers that forecasting and planning for procurement is more than managing demand and supply, more importantly, it is working with the variability of both.
“As many of our customers are small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs), who are unlikely to be looking many months ahead for their requirements, the Motion planning group takes on that responsibility to create sourcing plans that often result in POs being placed more than 1yr in advance of when we think it will be selling.”
“We don’t expect our customers to approach us with a concrete plan in place, but any guidance from them is welcome as that helps us protect their own operations,” he continued.
“When I am assisting customers that operate day-to-day without a formal logistics plan or a broader awareness of what their maintenance cycles look like, first and foremost it helps to approach things as though we have a common supply chain, and we are working together to create the best solution.”
Watson reiterates that he is always happy to work with suppliers and SMEs on developing procurement plans that suit their business needs and considers their assets.
“Managing uncertainty means constant firefighting to aim for perfect stock availability,” he said.
“Which means developing very close relationships with our key premium suppliers to put ourselves in a good position for supporting our customers future needs.”
“As far as stock planning is concerned, our team at Motion Australia has quite a sophisticated method and system that works specifically on trying to manage the uncertainty of supply and demand,” he explained.
“Our capabilities have been especially valuable in the last, say 10-12 months, where lead times and logistics have been incredibly variable.”
“In fact, some of our key suppliers now use the forecast and the flow that we provided them to try to get a better product allocation from their overseas plants,” he continued.
“And that really demonstrates the credibility we have in the planning space.”
From a distribution perspective, Motion Australia has four major distribution centres across four states — Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, and Western Australia – with over 100 branches across the country.
The benefit of this to customers is that they always have access to stock from those centres due to the continuous flow of stock that moves through the distribution centres to continuously replenish the branch locations.
Mark Dixon, executive general manager for supply chain and logistics at Motion Australia has spent the last 25 years working in various roles across the supply chain, manufacturing, and business improvement.
Currently, Dixon heads up Motion Australia’s distribution channels, ensuring products are in the right place at the right time —preferably a customer’s doorstep.
He notes the importance of optimising distribution networks, framed by the challenges of being an industrial solutions provider.
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