“There’s so much more to gain from Slim4”
Slimstock ask Nick Brouwer, team leader Supply Chain and user of Slim4 at the Nedac Sorbo Group, five questions: What's his role? What does he do on a normal day and what impact has Slim4 had on the business? What's his biggest challenge at the moment? And what are his ambitions for the future?
What is your role?
I supervise six inventory planners across various business units. On a corporate level, I manage the inventory and service levels. However, I also intervene in the case of emergencies or when things are escalated from a lower level. For example, a supplier recently increased the minimum order quantity to double that of our annual requirement. In such cases, together with my colleagues from purchasing, I get involved and we set up a discussion with the supplier.
My main goal within the Nedac Sorbo Group is to take planning to the next level. I want to ensure that the planners are making the absolute most out of Slim4. I also want to ensure that they only make fact based decisions instead of acting on gut feeling. I want to teach them to plan as efficiently as possible in order to focus more time on improving processes.
What does your working day look like?
Although I'm not a planner, I spend approximately three hours a day using Slim4. In the morning, I start my working day with a good look at the Slim4 dashboard. This provides me with detailed insights into how inventory levels develop on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. If I see any strange or unexpected peaks, I investigate the causes and try to solve them together with the planners.
I don't have a fixed daily routine. I have all kinds of appointments during the day and I'm involved in several improvement projects. I have meetings with suppliers on a regular basis. During these meetings we discuss ongoing issues and use Slim4 to help improve their delivery performance.
What's the impact of Slim4?
Our whole planning process relies on Slim4: we even generate our purchase orders within the system. These orders are transferred to our SAP ERP system from which we actually do the purchasing. What would happen if we didn't have Slim4? Well, we would have to look for another system as soon as possible. We might even have to resort to Excel as an alternative. Our company cannot function without a planning system.
Without Slim4 the planning processes would take an enormous amount of time. One of the biggest benefits is that Slim4 prioritises work for our planners and provides insight into exceptions and indicates how urgently an action needs to be taken.
What's your main challenge?
At the moment our main project is focused on integrating processes with our sister company, George East Housewares in the UK. We will try to bring both businesses together in order to manage stock in the same Slim4 environment. This improvement project is all about harmonising assortments between both companies. For instance, if a product is moving faster in the Netherlands than in the UK, it could be better to purchase stock from the Netherlands and vice versa.
In addition, we will conduct an in depth analysis of the entire product range in order to gain a clearer picture of our long tail. We will also dive into the processes and, where necessary, make organisational changes in order to help keep this long tail under control.
What's your ambition?
The role of supply chain team leader is still fairly new for me so for the next few years I want to develop myself further in this field. There's so much more to gain from Slim4 and I want our team to focus more time on core planning activities instead of dealing with side issues.
What I would like to be doing in five years' time? For me that's difficult to say. This year I will take the Slimstock HBO Minor course. For now, I think that's enough. I'm kind of a control freak: I like to address problems and I really enjoy it when we get things to improve. For this reason, this is exactly the job which suits me best.