Shortage Mitigation Revisited

How Lytica became a unique analytics company: Part 22

I have been thinking about shortages again and how one might improve their supply situation in these difficult times. In July, I posted a blog to scmroundtable.com titled “Shortages: Three Extreme Mitigation Approaches” where I suggested things that are somewhat “outside-the-box” for normal sourcing but not so when viewed in an environment of extreme scarcity of material. Today, I have another thought that may help some of you and have created a game to help you experience how your company may be hindered in finding parts. I call the game “Spot the MPN”.

Before I get to the game, I want to share feedback from a customer who used one of the “Extreme” techniques. Brian Robertson, Sr. Director, Global Supply Management at Infinera, used Lytica’s ESM report to solve his shortage problem. Brian was kind enough to give us this feedback. His feedback also outlines the process he used and note that he engaged his team and contract manufacturers with our report to get results.

“The file Lytica provided helped greatly in identifying potential alternative sources for multiple Infinera part numbers.  I forwarded the file to my team member responsible for our Contract Manufacturers, then in turn, forwarded the file to the CMs. Both my colleague and the CMs were appreciative of such a tool that could possibly help alleviate this critical shortage issue by identifying possible alternatives we/they hadn’t thought of before. 

 The tool exposed replacement opportunities for all the parts.  The CM’s scoured the world to find what stock was available, then brought that status back to Infinera.  Our Component Engineers then decided which parts could be used (paper qual) and thankfully only one needed Engineering qualification due to a capacitance change recommended on an MLCC that we had hundreds of placements on a single board.  For about 25% of these placements – we could use the different capacitance devices. Using this alternative capacitance value led to finding availability to cover supply over the extended lead times. We are in the process of substituting these in – which of course – frees up supply of the higher capacitance device to use on other boards. 

 Overall, this report quickly drove conversations and collaboration.  Ultimately, helping solve some very time critical shortage issues.  Everyone involved was grateful of the information contained in the report.”  – Brian Robertson, Sr. Director, Global Supply Management at Infinera

Thank you Brian. This is a great testimonial for a product that we conceived of and brought to market in less than one month. Our Advanced Technology Center can take the credit for this one. Brian, I am sure, enjoyed his Labor Day break with these particular shortage problems behind him.

Now for “Spot the MPN”.

Almost all of the companies we work with have dirty data. While many have mostly usable data, there are some where the quality of their information is so bad that it makes straightforward analysis with tools, even one as simple as Excel, near impossible. If your data is in bad shape, how can you effectively or efficiently search for components or cross-reference parts to solve shortage problems? Are you wasting time trying to figure out what to search for rather than using that time to find parts?

In my game Spot the MPN, you are assigned two roles. In one, you are an English-speaking human and in the other you’re a machine.

Download “Spot the MPN” in Excel format here.

The objective is to spot the MPN in the text strings submitted to Lytica as MPNs listed below; first as humans and then pretend you’re a machine and figure how you as a machine would spot the MPN.  In the column boxes under human, you write in the spotted MPN.  For each spotted MPN you get 1 point. The column boxes under ‘Algorithm or Method‘, you write how you detected the MPN as if you were a machine.  Write the MPN in the column ‘Machine‘. You get 1 point for each algorithm containing fewer than 10 words that enabled you to put an MPN in the machine column and zero for MPNs using algorithms of 10 words or more. Note that algorithms must be general purpose and apply to any MPN submitted to Lytica. Sum your points to get your score.

If your score is higher than 30 you are doing well, and at 40 you’re a genius.  Feel free to share your results with us for verification. If any of these part numbers are yours, you have my sympathy and need Lytica’s help.

I have another game called “Spot the Manufacturer’s Name” but I think this is enough gaming for today. I believe I have illustrated my point.

Contact us if you would like an ESM report to assist in identifying alternatives or help with cleaning up your data.

Ken Bradley is the Chairman/CTO & founder of Lytica Inc., a provider of supply chain analytics tools and Silecta Inc., a SCM Operations consultancy.

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