Flextronics International Ltd. gets it. Accurate and useful information is at the heart of everything enterprises do. Without it success may never arrive and if it does, it will be fleeting. That’s why the company has recently launched a software-based program to generate and share information about a variety of market issues with customers and its suppliers.
Dubbed Flex Pulse, the program monitors and makes available detailed information about operational conditions and market demand to the company, which in turn shares this with customers, according to company executives. The newly-launched program is based at Flextronics’ San Jose, Calif. office and housed at its Flex Pulse Center, described by the company as a “physical location for groups to collaboratively interact.” The program was launched earlier this week, Flextronics said in a statement.
"We live in a rapidly changing world, full of disruptive events, technologies and business models," said Mike McNamara, Flextronics’ CEO in the statement. "Today's executives and innovators need to run their businesses intelligently to win, and one of the biggest challenges they face is the management of highly complex, globally-distributed supply chains. Flex Pulse provides us with extraordinary real time insight into our supply chain, which allows us to reduce risk and improve the efficiency of any supply chain."
McNamara should know. He runs a $26 billion electronics manufacturing services (EMS) enterprise that is the second biggest globally. The company serves some of the top companies in the automotive, medical, electronics and industrial sectors and offers a mind-numbingly wide range of products. The four business groups include high reliability solutions; industrial and emerging industries; consumer technologies and; integrated network solutions.
In the consumer technologies group Flextronics serves as contractor for consumer electronics OEMs selling devices that include mobile phones, wearable electronics, game consoles, PCs, set-top boxes and automation equipment amongst others. The high-reliability solutions division caters to OEMs in areas as diverse as avionics, specialized communications, energy, automotive, lighting and medical equipment.
The integrated network solutions division supports OEMs that market optical equipment, data and networking devices, servers and storage, and the growing market for cloud computing hardware. The industrial and emerging industries business focuses on heavy capital equipment and home appliances, including smart meters.
How can a company keep these varied businesses and operations updated about demand and sales conditions? Flextronics says it monitors not only product demand but also other activities that can impact manufacturing. It sounds quite easy but this is far from the case. Electronics production activities have in the past been disrupted by geopolitical turmoil as well as natural disasters. They’ve also been hurt by financial and fiscal problems such as the ongoing challenges facing Greece and some other European countries.
Few players in the electronics industry understand the value of accurate data and market intelligence like contract manufacturers. Companies like Foxconn, Flextronics, Jabil, Plexus and even the smallest electronics manufacturing services (EMS) providers know that a great product can still bomb in the market if it is not supported by an excellent, reactive and agile supply chain.
That’s what Flex Pulse is supposed to address. Flextronics said it would stream information to its Flex Pulse Center on a real-time basis “from multiple sources,” using software supplied by Elementum, a provider of supply chain intelligence applications. Elementum will help Flextronics monitor “all aspects of the company’s global supply chain, while aggregating and parsing global events that might impact supply chain efficiency,” the company said.
Simply generating information about events that could impact supply chain operations isn’t enough, though. A manufacturer must act on this data, inform customers and suppliers and maintain its vigilance otherwise it may act on outdated information. That’s what makes Flex Pulse interesting. It will constantly monitor production, supply chain and market conditions, including operational areas that may impact product delivery such as logistics.
“The comprehensive customer supply chain view integrates demand, inventory monitoring, manufacturing, quality, outbound transportation and delivery,” Flextronics said. “Live video feeds of global production facilities and integrated videoconferencing capabilities establish direct links with Flextronics sites around the world, to address issues in real time.”
And, for those on the move – and who isn’t – Flex Pulse can be accessed via tablets or smartphones, Flextronics said.
I’ll be following up with the company to see Flex Pulse in action.
Bolaji Ojo is editor-in-chief and publisher of Electronics Purchasing Strategies. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone who promises to base his sometimes biased, possibly ignorant, occasionally irrelevant but absolutely stimulating thoughts on the subjective interpretation of verifiable facts alone. Any comments should be sent to the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.