“Complex” is the common word we hear from many of our Fabless Semiconductor customers in describing their supply chains. We talked a bit about that in our last blog posting entitled: Fabless Semiconductor Planning: Between a-rock-and a-Hard-place! In this article, I want to touch on another culprit in complexity of a Fabless enterprises (or Semiconductors in general), proliferation of products.
It’s no secrete that Fabless supply chain are faced with ever increasing number of products, and with that comes a lot more part#’s. It’s one thing to deal with 3 products, and another thing to deal with 30. The part#’s involved increases exponentially with every end-product. Imagine this, in most cases our fabless customers are dealing with 100’s of end-products. This makes crunching through the numbers for a supply chain “plan” very difficult and slow. Remember, in planning the entire supply chain, these part#’s have to be used for demand planning (when the customers order it), operations planning (how to build it), inventory planning (what to keep on hand), and Supply planning (which suppliers to use and when). The level of complexity is mind-boggling.
One of the new trends in dealing with this level of complexity is through Attribute Based Planning. We have written a lot about this in the past but it seems like our readers can’t get enough of it, and for good reason--it works. Attributes really simplify modeling the entire supply chain by utilizing the “characteristics” of products to describe them, rather than using unique part#. For example, you may have a grade A, B, and C chips, at speeds of 1.66Ghz, 2.66Ghz, and 3.0Ghz. You can give all 9 potential combinations a unique product name, or you can have only 3 product names by referring to the attributes of (Grade + Speed). This is a very simple example, but you can learn a lot more about this by either reading the Attribute Based Planning ePaper or watching the “What is Attribute Based Planning” video on the Supply Chain Planning Channel.
You can apply attributes to all levels of planning but there is a catch--your planning system has to be able to handle attributes for the process its intended for. For example, for Demand Planning, the customer orders have to be described by their attributes within the system. For Production planning, the product routes have to defined by attributes within the same system, and so on. Basically, the entire logic and algorithms of your planning system has to be attribute-based, or you are stock with the unique part#’s.
For fabless companies, who deal with massive product proliferations, attributes will make life a lot easier on your many planners. They get to collaborate together much faster, and avoid a lot of clutter. Below, see how Silicon Laboratories is using attributes in their planning environment. Also, For more information on this topic download: Overcoming The Shortcomings Of Fabless Planning Systems ePaper.
About the Author: Kameron Hadavi is the Vice President of Marketing & Alliances at Adexa, for more information about him please click here.