Creation Technologies: collaboration across the digital supply chain
Globalization and digitization are fully disrupting the supply chain industry, where connectivity and demands for rapid, efficient solutions are driving continuous change. From utilizing predictive analytics to unlock greater value from large volumes of data, to the implementation of automation, robotics, Internet of Things (IoT) and cloud computing, the industry is undergoing a seismic shift. In order to garner further insights in remaining agile and to guarantee customer trust, industry leaders have sought to reshape traditional supply chain models.
Providing exceptional end-to-end solutions for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) worldwide, Creation Technologies is no stranger in delivering bespoke solutions for those who in need of a responsive design and manufacturing partner. Amidst an evolving technology landscape, the company has partnered with more than 200 OEMs worldwide since its inception, accelerating time-to-market, reducing customer operating costs, while sharing innovative ideas which can ultimately lead to increased annual revenue.
Leading the company’s USD 500mn+ global supply chain function across Canada, Mexico, China and the United States, Executive Vice President of Supply Chain, Ana Cantu admits that she remains fiercely passionate about “not only adding value to the businesses, but to the individuals that are the heart of the partnerships between Creation Technologies and its customers.” Stepping into her first leadership role aged 25, Cantu has been a significant force in driving the digital transformation of Creation’s supply chain, where over the last few years, high growth market segments, such as automotive, medical and Internet-of-Things (IoT) products have caused a number of supply constraints across all markets. This, combined with supplier consolidation in several component markets such as ceramic capacitors, has created a complex dynamic, where such constrained supply has led to steady price increases previously unheard of.
With nine manufacturing facilities, two design centers, a rapid prototyping center and a global materials sourcing group at the business, Cantu has sought to overhaul its end-to-end product supply and demand planning capabilities, as well as its distribution and logistics divisions for all business units. Taking a deep dive into its business model and the number of suppliers at the business, Creation has retained the suppliers with which it can develop vital synergies and build an open dialogue and environment to bring forth an innovative business approach which is not only mutually supportive, but more effective in meeting customer needs.
“One of our biggest challenges is the complexity of our business. We serve higher mix, low to mid-volume markets, which drives very high mix in our supply chain,” she explains. We have nearly 100,000 active component part numbers and ship over 15,000 finished goods from all nine sites. Developing tools and processes that standardize practices and consolidate activities where synergies can be realized are a critical piece of our supply chain transformation journey.”
Building a deep understanding of its customers’ needs and providing highly responsive tailored solutions, Creation is the optimal partner for the high complexity, low to mid volume products of mid-sized and smaller OEMs with well-established market positions. B2B data interfaces with suppliers and customers are increasingly common for Creation, where it has looked to unlock the opportunities available across an increasingly agile supply chain.
“During 2018, Creation saw growth with customers across all market sectors. Technologies, such as IoT are driving growth, along with a strong economy. Creation is particularly strong in the medical and industrial market, which are both experiencing strong growth,” she adds. Nonetheless, as global competition continues to rise, it is clear that technology alone cannot be the sole area of investment to ensure success across the supply chain. Faced with opportunities to collaborate with other market leaders in order to build on its competitive edge, Creation has partnered with Kinaxis and deployed the company’s Rapid Response software to improve its responsiveness and ability to remain nimble as consumer demands evolve.
“Rapid Response is a best-in-class and well-established tool for this purpose. After reviewing several options, Rapid Response was the clear choice for Creation,” explains Cantu. “More than anything, Rapid Response allows us to be much more responsive. Analysis that used to take days now takes minutes. We can quickly evaluate changes in demand and associated constraints, allowing us to make decisions much faster.”
Presently in its implementation phase, three out of Creation’s nine business units have utilized the software and witnessed significant improvements in responding to customer demands, as well as identifying supplier constraints. This has also filtered into its ability to share essential findings with customers and propose new solutions which would best fit the specific business situation. Further, Creation’s supplier portal increasingly allows the firm to consolidate all its procurement activities across nine sites into a single location, leading to complete end-to-end visibility and strong operational efficiency.
“Communication with our suppliers is now automated, eliminating the need for our procurement team to manually generate material requirements planning (MRP) signals to our suppliers,” adds Cantu. “We are in the early stages of implementing the software, but the signs are good and we expect to achieve the savings outlined in our original business plan. The capabilities of B2B tools will also continue to expand, allowing supplier and customer ERP systems to interface directly, with fewer layers of human interpretation and action. Creation will continue to stay on the leading edge of these developments.”
Although supply chain management remains a vital component to any successful organisation, global supply chain labor shortages will continue to feed into increased demands for talent worldwide. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that jobs in logistics in particular are estimated to grow by 26% between 2010 and 2020. A report by DHL, ‘The Supply Chain Talent Shortage: From Gap to Crisis’ has also found that demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by a ratio of six to one. Not only are increased numbers retiring from the workforce, workers are now asked to have a varied skillset as a result of increased digitization and strategic thinking.
“The ideal employee has both tactical/operational expertise and professional competencies such as analytical skills, but 58% of companies say this combination is hard to find. Additionally, tomorrow’s talent must excel at leadership, strategic thinking, innovation and high-level analytic and technological capabilities,” the report explains.
Passionate about upskilling the workforce to counteract these challenges, Creation Technologies succeeds in attracting and developing its workforce, due to its vision of making its employees their customers trusted partner and investing in its team members, moulding them into professional supply chain leaders of the future. “We are a growing company with great opportunities for our people. We have a strong purpose, which is to enrich lives by sustaining strong profitable growth in an enjoyable and caring culture. I enjoy our fast-paced environment with its many challenges and the opportunity to constantly learning new things,” notes Cantu. “However, what I enjoy most is being able to spend time with my team to develop and coach them, as well as spending time with customers, consulting them on their needs. Ultimately, I suppose I enjoy helping those around me to succeed.”
Creation partners with OEMs to deliver and scale the results that matter most to them – across the entire product lifecycle. To achieve such impact, Creation promotes technology leadership, cross-functional collaboration, and a responsive supply chain network founded on a robust digital infrastructure. Working hand in hand with its customers Creation provides tailored supply chain solutions to bolster their market competitiveness. Creation will continue to invest in its workforce and deploy innovative digital tools; continue to grow, continue to lead, and deliver the high level of performance demanded by the evolving needs of its clients.