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  • 17 June 2004 14:42

Automotive supply chain tool pushes lean manufacturing processes beyond the plant

Note – to learn more about the below announcement visit Viewlocity on stand #8 at Auto Logistics and SCM World, 21-23 June 2004, Grand Hyatt Hotel, Melbourne, Australia.

Ford utilises Viewlocity Inbound Planning Engine to synchronise inbound logistics with lean manufacturing

Australia, 17 June 2004 – Supply chain solutions provider Viewlocity is launching the Inbound Planning Engine (IPE) product in the Asia Pacific region.

IPE was developed by Viewlocity in conjunction with Ford Motor Company in the United States and is now being rolled out to improve automotive operations worldwide. Once enabled by an automotive manufacturer, it becomes a key tactical planning tool for designing logistics networks, delivering accurate logistics cost estimates for new products and driving operational activity.

IPE optimises the complete inbound to manufacturing automotive supply chain process. It does this by simultaneously considering the impacts from transportation, inventory, plant and distribution centres capacities, returnable containers, delivery frequency and dock availability.

Most automotive supply chain optimisation tools on the market evaluate related processes in the supply chain sequentially. This results in sub-standard supply chain plans with conflicting goals across different functional areas. Viewlocity’s IPE overcomes this by evaluating many factors across the inbound supply chain simultaneously. As a result support is created for a lean and agile operation with drastically reduced inventory requirements, synchronised material flows and significant operational cost savings throughout the inbound network. “Automotive manufacturing plants have complex supply chains with many components coming into a plant from multiple origins at all times of the day,” said Fadi Geha, Managing Director, Viewlocity Asia Pacific. “This creates a train station effect, with freight vehicles often arriving with material excess to assembly point requirements. Time and money is then wasted shuffling goods around to manage limited dock and storage capacity.

“With IPE the size of deliveries can be reduced and the frequency of trips increased to synchronise supply to production. The end result is an optimised manufacturing supply chain process within and beyond the plant.”

Geha describes this end goal as “true optimisation of inbound material flow,” a state of lean yet agile inbound planning which IPE creates. Automotive manufacturers can now extend their lean manufacturing practices from within the four walls of a plant across the full inbound supply network.

IPE – the nuts and bolts

IPE consists of three major components:

Logistics Configuration Module (LCM) – LCM determines optimal shipment frequencies, routes and transportation schedules that will be used by truck, air, rail and ocean mode suppliers. LCM considers the variations between transportation schemes, consisting of transportation and inventory costs, and produces a plan that minimises total costs.

LCM outputs the optimum scheme for each part-supplier-plant line item shipped, and the optimum frequency for each truck on both inbound and return routes. Also, the optimal frequencies and shipment schedules of returnable containers can be determined and adjusted (for truck mode only) to minimise container return costs.

Rotation and Routing Module (RRM) – RRM incorporates the optimised plans from LCM to produce detailed (truck-mode-only) shipment schedules. While LCM optimisation determines the best routes for part shipments, RRM schedules the individual trips for both inbound and return routes, assigning dock visits to trips, taking into consideration time window restrictions, and dock operational hours.

Returnable Containers – Returnable Containers (RCM) models the reverse flow of empty containers from plants to suppliers. When modeling returnable container solutions, IPE strives for the lowest possible return cost (transportation, container inventory, and handling costs) and the best closed-loop cycle time for containers. Return trips are based on the inbound transportation scheme, the return policy, the return ratio, the collapse ratio, and the combination of inbound routes into return route groups.


About Viewlocity Viewlocity provides supply chain management software that helps enterprises execute operations more effectively. Our software suite is comprised of visibility, event management, and optimisation components that enable companies to optimise their use of assets and monitor supply chain processes for exceptions. When exceptions occur the optimal response can be determined, minimising disruption to the business. As a result, Viewlocity's customers can run their businesses with significantly smaller reserves of inventory, capacity and people, while improving service levels. To find out how companies use Viewlocity's products to improve their operations, visit

For further information:

Chris Buckthorp Gerard Mansour Viewlocity Red Agency +61 02 9965 0708 +61 02 9955 7877

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