Supply chain initiatives have introduced the gradual change from “pushing” the manufacture of products into inventory well ahead of demand, and holding stock until customer orders arrive, to a more customer-driven model where customers “pull” demand directly against manufacturing capacity, as needed. Companies are trying to more accurately forecast demand, shorten manufacturing lead times, reduce inventory at all supply chain levels, and generally move towards a “make-to-order” business model. But this is only the tip of the iceberg for food and beverage manufactures who want to be “fit for supply chain business” in a demand-driven world. Part of focusing on being demand driven includes balancing and smoothing both demand and supply levels. Emphasis on sales and operations planning is gaining momentum as a formal process to help manufacturers optimize and find this balance. As technology and business tools are being put in place to support real-time visibility and smarter decision making, this is also resulting in higher levels of perfect order attainment – by providing continuous access to information via collaboration, bar coding and RFID.
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