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12 The PCB Magazine • July 2015 by Steve Williams The righT aPProach coNsulTiNg llc Introduction The shift away from vertical integration has pushed the topic of supply chain management to the forefront of strategic planning for many manufacturers. Having a supply chain that pro- vides a competitive advantage will be the differ- entiator in today's business environment. What is a Supply Chain? Defining terms is always a good point to start, and I have chosen to use the definitions supplied by James B. Ayers in his paper, "A Primer on Supply Chain Management": Supply chain: Life cycle processes supporting physical, information, financial, and knowl- edge flows for moving products and services from suppliers to end-users. Supply chain man- agement: Design, maintenance, and operation of supply chain processes for satisfaction of end user needs. Printed circuit board manufacturers have al- ways expected their OEM and EMS customers supply Chain in the 21 st Century to actively manage them; however, many still have not filtered that expectation down to their sub-suppliers. Customer audits are a way of life for printed circuit fabricators, but it is surpris- ing to see how many of them have never vis- ited, much less audited, their own key strategic suppliers. I think it is reasonable to expect that a supplier actually visit, audit and collaborate with their key sub-suppliers on a regular basis. When asked to discuss supply chain strat- egy, we are often greeted with the response "Yes of course, we have a purchasing department." Supply chain management has progressed far beyond the old-school purchasing mentality to become a key component of the modern busi- ness organization. We are all just pieces in the supply chain puzzle, and it is the supply chain that is responsible for getting the final product to market. The fundamental concept of supply chain management is based on two core principles. The first principle is that virtually every product delivered to an end customer has gone through a number of touches in a number of manufac- turing and/or service organizations. These or- ganizations are referred to collectively as that product's supply chain. The second principle is Feature

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