Interview: Automotive Distributors Ltd

Name: Mark Northeast

Job Title: Purchasing Director

Company: Automotive Distributors Ltd

 

How long have you worked for ADL?

9 years

How long have you worked as a PD?

3 years

During your time in this field, what changes have you seen?

Increased complexity within the supply chain. Or perhaps we have just made the various elements more visible!

Is it very different from when you first started out?

Yes- It cannot be compared although the company has grown significantly therefore the numbers and actions have bigger ramifications.

How has your job changed as a result?

Increase staff put pressure on your systems, training and processes. We now spend less time doing more time planning.

What is your opinion on the future of Supply Chain Planning?

There is a need to improve communication between the Manufacturing, Purchasing and Sales and Marketing function, too often this does not happen. Joined up thinking is the way forward but is often easy to say but difficult to put into practice.

What personal challenges do you face on a day to day basis in your job?

We work with long lead-times and this always challenges our planning and forecasting. The lack of accurate delivery dates from our suppliers causes us daily problems.

How do you overcome these?

The long lead times have forced us to have a wide understanding of what happens within our business and everything which can influence our demand. This means that we are constantly questioning the numbers which is vital. We try to overcome the lack of information from Suppliers by looking in more detail as to what has happened in the past.

What software packages do you use to assist you with your job?

Optimiza

What is your hot tip to others who do a similar job to you?

Inventory/software packages are just tools to assist you with the job; they cannot do your job.

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Name: Tracy Leggett

Job Title: Replenishment Supervisor

Company: Automotive Distribution Ltd

 

How long have you worked for Automotive Distributors Ltd?

I have been with ADL for 7 Months.

How long have you worked as a Replenishment Supervisor?

I have been a Replenishment Supervisor for 7 Months, although I have been in a number of roles within the supply chain arena for approximately 11 years.

During your time in this field, what changes have you seen?

System development and investment by the companies that I have worked for has increased year on year. Resources within logistics/replenishment departments has also grown significantly and this is on the back of companies recognising the importance of these departments. It is the driver of inventory and can make or break a business. This importance has grown over the years. When I first started in the arena, Sales and/or Buying were deemed the money makers and the important players within the business but I believe this has shifted over the years.

There are also more companies out there developing software or supplying consultancy support than there were at the start of my career, giving more choice to business while developing their supply chains.

Is it very different from when you first started out?

Yes. It was very manual and admin driven when I first joined but it is now system and process lead. The replenishment area also seemed to work in isolation from other departments but as time has gone on the whole supply chain concept has grown within the companies I have worked for and departments now work in collaboration with all areas of the business and I think perceptions have changed bringing the department to the forefront of all business.

How has your job changed as a result?

It is more encompassing than when I originally started. I now have to have an understanding of multiple systems and IT. There is more analysis of data and looking for trends and trying to predict the future and I therefore have to have an understanding of the market and what is going on with promotions and pricing. It's not 'sell one, get one'. It's sell one and predict the future.

What is your opinion on the future of Supply Chain Planning?

Many systems are used to manage different areas of the business and now there is need to find internet based software that links all of these areas together. Giving visibility where orders are, by being able to link with suppliers and software that gives the visibility of the total procurement cost and the option to open tender with suppliers.

What personal challenges do you face on a day to day basis in your job?

Trying to ensure the basics are achieved without being distracted by jobs that will not help us achieve the objectives. To ensure that the processes and objectives are all driven from the same overall plan and the teams objectives are not in conflict. It is also important to reflect and ensure that urgent issues are filtered and actioned in a measured way and that change and jobs are not created unnecessarily and again to not detract us from the basic functions of the day.

How do you overcome these?

By communicating with the team, management and other departments.

What software packages do you use to assist you with your job?

Optimiza, AS400, Microsoft, Vecta

What is your hot tip to others who do a similar job to you?

Managing replenishment and inventory can be a thankless task, too much stock or not enough.

Be focused and don't take it personally.

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