I’ve spent the last 25 years addressing supply-chains issues, with a focus on aftermarket service in general and the planning and execution of service parts in particular. I’ve had the fortunate experience of working across various industries: aerospace, high tech, medical device, industrial equipment, construction equipment, agriculture, heavy trucking, and automotive, to name a few.
Service Supply Chain’s Top Concerns
While each industry has its unique challenges when it comes to planning service parts, there are a common set of questions that always seem to pop up during discovery sessions, solution demonstrations, and solution overviews. They typically center around suppliers, distribution or warehouse operations, and logistics:
How do I track performance?
- Suppliers (lead times, fill, etc.)
- Transportation providers
- Repair vendors
How do I know if parts are available in the distribution center?
Fill rate alone is not an acceptable metric for our customers; we are measured by On Time/In Full rates.
How do we ensure defective and unused new parts return from the field?
How do I prioritize allocations? Fair-share rules do not address my most critical service contracts or customers.
Some of these questions pertain to certain industries more than others, but responses are usually similar: “That data should be in your ERP, WMS, TMS, (fill in the acronym).”
I typically would position this lack of clarity as a fine line between planning and execution, but to the service parts planner-it’s a canyon. Some companies divide the responsibilities between buyers and planners, but the trend I’ve seen over my career is that Service Parts Planning departments are shrinking, and planners are being asked to do more with less. Now they spend more of their time chasing parts and less time strategically planning. Both functions are absolutely critical to supporting the highest levels of customer service. The best plan in the world is only as good as the ability to execute it. If you do not know where your execution is failing, you cannot fix it.
Bridging Service Parts Planning and Execution
Baxter Planning has built the bridge between planning and execution. Our team has worked hard to create a full, predictive platform to solve the most complex issues within the Service Supply Chain. Within this platform, we offer a solution called LynX, which enables service organizations to create truly connected supply chains across every workflow, transaction, and trading partner. It’s a real-time workflow management command center that provides every player in the network with the visibility, automation, insights, and control needed to drive dynamic and proactive service operations.
This is one of the reasons I recently joined the team at Baxter Planning: I finally have an answer for frustrated parts planners!