Electronics Production | September 10, 2007

Why Can't We All Just Collaborate?

Chris Cookson made an article on Solectron's blog regarding the “The Next Big Challenge, The Lean Supply Chain." Now Andrzej Teplicki, Director, Supply Chain Solutions at Solectron has Picked up Chris' post.
Read the previous Blog Post “The Next Big Challenge, The Lean Supply Chain," here.

Andrzej Teplicki said he recently read a very informative white paper on Lean and Collaboration in the EMS supply chain, authored by Oracle, Economist Intelligence Unit, Arizona State University and PRTM. Read his comment here.

One of the authors, Dr. Dan Shunk from Arizona State states that: “Collaboration is mandatory for EMS success, yet companies report mediocre collaboration today." I think there's an element of truth to Dr. Shunk's point. While I personally have witnessed (and been involved in) some highly effective supply chain implementations together with forward-thinking companies who understand the importance of collaborating to realize true supply chain orchestration, the reality is collaboration is less frequent than it should be.

Why? It's hard to place the blame in any one location. But as with any coin, there are two sides. On the one side, as an industry, EMS companies have not been as effective as they could at communicating the importance of true collaboration to achieving shared supply chain goals with customers. Without a compelling business case, suppliers will not be willing to join collaborative supply chain efforts which frequently require VMI arrangements. OEMs also have to understand how their IP will not be compromised through data sharing required by a collaborative supply chain.

On the other side of the coin, and a continuation of my first point, customers have not been convinced that realizing the benefits of an orchestrated supply chain means collaborating with all partners up and down the chain — from end customers to EMS to suppliers and all points in between. What I find is that there is a tendency by OEMs to view participants in their supply chain as merely suppliers and not as partners. Fortunately, where we're seeing the greatest degree of supply chain success is when all the participants in the supply chain collaborate to solve what are often very challenging situations, which could not be achieved by any single participant alone in the supply chai

The tools that enable supply chain collaboration exist today. Unfortunately, the appetite for an end-to-end supply chain partnership is limited.

Posted by Andrzej Teplicki, Director, Supplu Chain Solutions, Solectron at


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