Over on Supply and Demand Chain Executive, Exostar's Peter Scott has bylined an insightful column that examines ten of the common challenges manufacturers -- and A&D providers, in particular -- face when they operate in global, interconnected environments. The piece is a great primer for those operating worldwide today -- from supply, manufacturing and customer perspectives. Consider the now often cited case of the Boeing 787, which, according to Scott, is "delivered as 11 major subassemblies, which Boeing will assemble and test at its facility in Everett, Wash. Boeing ... [coordinating] the 135 structures and systems from partner locations spread around the globe from countries such as China, Japan and Poland ... [and synchronizing] demand/supply and logistics information across multiple supply chain tiers so key components arrive at Boeing's Washington facility at just the right time for final assembly over a three-to-four-day period."
The column also tackles the need to closely monitor and work with suppliers. Sometimes sourcing on behalf of lower tier suppliers does not go far enough. While we all know that Boeing -- and now Airbus -- have secured forward contracts for key raw material inputs for their suppliers, "the next question is how do large manufacturers ensure that they are benefiting from these preferred contracts, when the purchase and consumption is happening multiple tiers down the supply chain? For example, how can Boeing and Airbus be assured that a supplier's titanium purchase is for a Boeing or Airbus project, and not for another competitor, with the supplier profiting?" Now that's a great question. And it's one I'll bet that few companies operating on the global sourcing stage are equipped to answer today.