Frans Bakker. In the past few years, this team has done a lot of research in companies in the food industry and is also involved in solving problems in the fields of supply chain integration and sustainable production. The Quick Scan helps the Center for Operational Excellence (COPE) to collect valuable data which constitute input for ongoing scientific research. Besides that, the anonymised data are added to the international database of companies which have undergone a Quick Scan and are used to extend and update the existing database. Therefore, thanks to Quick Scan, these companies not only gain insight into how the supply chain operates and what their role is, they will also be able to benchmark with the other companies in this database.
Substudy: how do you find the balance between flexibility and efficiency?
One company which underwent a Quick Scan struggled with the ‘flexibility/efficiency dilemma’, as it is referred to by Frans Bakker. 'This company operates on a project basis and is making products which are surrounded by long-term uncertainties during the project: uncertainties relating to exact customer requirements; the regulations to comply with; component specifications, etc. Dealing with these uncertainties requires a flexible organisation. Generally, though, a flexible organisation is not remarkable for efficiency, whereas cost saving was an absolute necessity for this particular company', Mr Bakker said. He was one of the five scientists who performed the Quick Scan.
To solve this problem, Mr Bakker and his colleagues suggested creating an additional decoupling point, cutting the process into two parts. In the first part, Sales and Product Development have to remove uncertainties by drawing up a complete list with product, component and document specifications. At the decoupling point, they hand the list over to their colleagues of the second part, who execute the project, which includes purchase and assembly, testing and shipment of the product. Mr Bakker said: 'Clever planning of the second part of the process can prevent large quantities of work-in-process and protracted lead times from developing. An additional advantage is that the company is encouraged to move forward the decoupling point, which helps to deliver the projects sooner.'