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Dyson Is Building A Supply Chain Control Tower


Dyson is the company, located in the UK, that creates those revolutionary products: fans, vacuum cleaners and other consumer things. Owner James Dyson is both an inventor and a sharp businessman.

They are building a Supply Chain Control Tower in order to give his company a competitive advantage. The company is trying to engineer a supply chain based on “build-to-order, rather than build-to-forecast” as a way of reducing its store keeping units (SKUs).

Working with them are their lead logistics provider, Flextronics; and supply chain software supplier Elementum.

Dyson chief operating officer Jim Rowan explained the system: “We know that the supply chain can drive financial performance and the bottom line. But if we can harness the complexity in the supply chain and turn it into an advantage, then we can use it to improve the top line as well,” he said.

The system comes as a cloud-based mobile app with three constituent parts: Transport, which manages freight routes and tracks shipments as they move across the world; Exposure, which allows shippers to highlight specific risk hotspots in the supply chain and monitors their situations; and Perspective, which monitors the “health” of a supply chain, defined by individual shippers’ KPIs.

While he extolled the ambition of a mobile application that allowed his supply chain team to work remotely, Mr Rowan said the physical location of staff also continued to matter.

We are building a control tower at Dyson which will show all the parts in our supply chain,” he said. “It will have 16 screens constantly monitoring transport routes, risks points and the quality of products – it will be a physical control tower.

If you have six people looking at these screens, providing constant analysis, then magical things start happening in terms of developing really creative solutions,” he said.

The control tower is due to be operational in July.

Dyson’s annual supply chain involves managing two billion parts from 300 suppliers, which are delivered to four factories that produce eight million appliances.

Not the most complicated supply chain in the world, but with  two billion parts a year, it is complicated,” Mr Rowan added.