If crystal balls worked, there would be no parts shortages -- except, maybe, for crystal balls.
Unfortunately, some methods to predict shortages are just as unpredictable.
"Today, parts forecasting is done in the absence of configuration-level product forecasting," according to Roy Marsten, founder and chief scientist of Emcien Inc., an Atlanta-based product variant optimization provider. "Since products are not modular in terms of the option choices, it is not possible to do accurate parts forecasting. The result is too much parts inventory and shortages of the right parts."
Emcien, which was awarded an Emerging Opportunities Program grant by the National Science Foundation, offers a solution that allows manufacturers to cope with configuration volatility via its eProduct solution, which enables users to measure product complexity, demand shaping capabilities and configuration optimization.
Other purchasing solutions include:
- Bellwether Software's Purchasing Management eXtra
- Purchase Manager, Verian Technologies
- Palmas Development Corp.'s Purchasing plus+